Does Pope Benedict have arthrosis? (degenerative joint condition in his legs)

From Phil Lawler at CWN:

The Pope’s aching joints; the Vatican’s odd silence
By Phil Lawler | November 09, 2011

Today CWN passes along the report that Pope Benedict suffers from a degenerative joint condition in his legs. Although I am sorry for his suffering, I must say that I’m relieved. The news might have been much worse.

But if the report is accurate[That's an IF!] and the journalist who made the “scoop,” Andrea Tornielli, has rarely been wrong—I wonder why the Vatican did not make a full disclosure.

In October, the news that the Pope was towed into St. Peter’s basilica on a rolling platform was alarming. The memories of Blessed John Paul II riding the same platform were still too vivid. It was only natural to ask: Was Pope Benedict now entering his own final decline?

The official announcement from the Vatican press office, saying that the platform was introduce “to alleviate the efforts of the Holy Father,” was not at all reassuring. Such vague words do not quell suspicions. Why did the Pope suddenly need such assistance? We remember how the Vatican press office refused to confirm that John Paul II had Parkinson’s disease, even long after the symptoms became obvious to casual observers. So we worried: Were Vatican officials again covering up some serious papal illness?

A degenerative joint condition can be quite painful. But it is not a life-threatening condition. Nor is there any shame involved. We all know that age is taking its toll on the Pope’s physical condition, and aching joints are a common complaint among men of his years. So why not tell the truth?

If the Vatican announced tomorrow that Pope Benedict suffered from arthrosis, no one would be scandalized, no one would be frightened, no one would even be surprised. Many people, I feel certain, would be relieved. Many more—including the millions who have suffered with their own aching joints—would be prompted to offer another quick prayer for the Holy Father.

And the down side would be….The down side would be….Could someone help me out here? I can’t see the down side.

FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to Does Pope Benedict have arthrosis? (degenerative joint condition in his legs)

  1. teomatteo says:

    The down side?
    Its a HIPA violation.

  2. Mundabor says:

    I agree.
    It is clear the Holy Father is not as agile as he used to be, and some form of Arthrosis at 84 is certainly nothing exceptional.
    Such an announcement would cause rather relief than alarm.

    M

  3. Johnno says:

    It does make me worry… But the Vatican’s in a tough spot here. If they didn’t say anything, the media will speculate the worst. If they did admit something was mroe seriously wrong, the media would roll with it in the worst way possible, they’ll already be preparing his obituary and many will have a lot of bad things to sling at him.

    If it’s just the issue with his legs, it’s understandable and they ought to just say something. Unless the Pope himself is being stubborn insisting nobody know about it and that he can manage just fine. That’s also a charming symptom of old men. I’m just saying…

    I pray he sticks around for awhile though… we kinda need him…

  4. frjim4321 says:

    It would be so much better if they would be forthcoming about the pope’s health.

    That being said, it is a pity when any elderly woman or man suffers the discomfort of age.

    Living with constant pain is no joke. It’s sad when any elderly person is thus afflicted.

    With regard to the papacy, I think it would be best for the church if a pope would step down when his health no longer permits him to discharge the duties of the office. But more importantly, I would hope that a pope would receive the ultimate in excellent medical and particularly palliative care.

  5. Johnny Domer says:

    So the moral of the story, again, is that the Vatican has the lousiest PR team in the world.

  6. Jael says:

    I wonder if knee replacement surgery would help, or even be possible?

  7. RichardT says:

    We all know what His Holiness needs for getting around without aching legs:
    http://www.udenap.org/photos/p/paul_vi_sedia.jpg

  8. yatzer says:

    frjim, I see your point, but that final episode of JPII’s life was so inspiring to me that I wound up back in the Church. It wasn’t the only thing, but it was major. The fact that we could see him follow Jesus to the end was spellbinding, at least to me.

  9. hylander1986 says:

    The term “arthrosis” is fancy medical speak for “abnormality of a joint”. By definition, arthritis is worse than arthrosis, as it is an inflammation of the joint cartilage due to damage. However, arthrosis is the first step prior to arthritis. Anywho, the point is that there are people under 60 that have joint arthrosis… the Holy Father is in his early eighties… it’s not that big a deal folks. Let’s not put him in the grave yet. :-)

    M. Hyland,
    Student Physical Therapist

  10. Banjo pickin girl says:

    Father Jim, I too have John Paul II as my model of redemptive suffering. I wish I had known about that kind of stuff when I was younger but now that I am older and really in trouble it is very helpful to me. One can be inspired similarly by anybody who is suffering but for the Pope to be so disabled and yet doing his best to shepherd us through it all is amazing.

  11. Lori Pieper says:

    If I remember right, Paul VI had arthrosis too in the last years of his life. But in studying his biography, I don’t see that the Vatican had a lot of trouble talking about it. So much when he began suffering from the urinary tract infection that led to his heart attack and death, they said instead that it was a worsening of his arthrosis that led to him being unable to say the Angelus at Castel Gandolfo. The other disease was evidently the more embarrassing one to talk about. Of course, Paul had already been through a prostrate operation as well. No idea how they described that.

    I have great problems with my knees as well, and it is not fun. Poor Papa must be really frustrated. He will need our prayers more than ever. I really want him to stay around for a while.

  12. Cincinnati Priest says:

    I am going to be the contrarian here. Just because the Pope is a highly public figure doesn’t mean that he has to splash his medical sufferings all over the news. In a more civilized age than the one we live in now, it was considered a vieprtue to keep one’s medical problems to oneself. Frankly, I don’t think this ‘full disclisure’ mentality is an improvement on that.

    I remember the controversy when the press started reporting on President Reagan’s colon issues — in great detail, with full graphics. Frankly, it was less than edifying. Perhaps the Holy Father, in his humility — not ‘stubbornness’ — does not care to trouble others with his medical issues. More power to him.

  13. Cincinnati Priest says:

    Correction …Line 3 … A virtue …. Still can’t type well on these iPad touch keyboards!

  14. anna 6 says:

    I agree with Cincinnati Priest. It’s not like he has cancer or Alzheimer’s or something grave…
    They probably figure that leaking the info to calm fears and imaginations is better than making a big deal about it.

    Feel better Papa!

  15. Phil_NL says:

    I echo the sentiment that the Vatican’s PR department must be the worst ever to have existed.

    It would be a small miracle should the Holy Father have no aches and illnesses past 80, and he’ll be 85 in a few months. And of course there will be speculation regarding the pontiff’s health, for that very same reason. It’s a lot better to be forthcoming with at least the general diagnosis – whatever it may be – of any problems that have noticeable effects. For any symptom there may be dozens of possible diagnoses, and the media will not hesitate to speculate on the worst. And should – God forbid – the Holy Father have somethiing more serious, at least the faithful could double their prayers for his health. Oremus pro pontifice!

    @Jael : it’s my understanding that at such an age, general anaesthesia is not something to be risked lightly (in fact, getting an operation as an octogenerian in the Netherlands is getting hard, and that’s their excuse/reason).

  16. Banjo pickin girl says:

    Lori, no mention was made of his prostate (not prostrate) of course, it being an unmentionable organ in polite society. Knees are fair game.

  17. Kate says:

    I agree with Cincinnati Priest, too.

  18. Joan M says:

    I, too, agree with Cincinnati Priest. Arthrosis is not a disease, it is a condition. It is not life threatening. At 84, it is totally unsurprising. This is a fuss about nothing. It doesn’t need “PR”.

  19. Lori Pieper says:

    Banjo pickin girl,

    Well, yes, that was sort of my point. I can’t recall, but I don’t think they would have spoken openly about his prostate (thanks for the correction).

  20. As the old saw has it, “The pope is always in excellent health, unless he dies.”

  21. Phil_NL says:

    @Dr. Peters,

    I think that approach is not very useful anymore (see Blessed JPII, him carrying his crosses was a great witness to the faith, and has great postive impact), nor tenable. The age where the press would defer to the Holy Father’s wishes and not report on his health if it’s not in fact relevant for discharging his duties is gone. Even more so, since the Holy Father has plenty of enemies – inside the Church and outside – one can expect that any suggestion of an ailment will be dissected ruthlessly. Incessant speculation about the pontiff’s health while there’s not much going on in reality can be very damaging to a Pope’s influence – there are already too many people who’d disregard the HF’s sheparding simply because of his age. No need to add suspected ailments, which he may not even have to begin with, to that list.

    If you cannot count on the others being gentlemen, it’s better not to give them ammunition by hinding things.

  22. dans0622 says:

    “If the Vatican announced tomorrow…”? The Vatican? If the Pope wants people to know about his physical condition, he can “announce” whatever he wants. Is “the Vatican” silencing the Pope? I doubt it. What man among us likes to talk about or even admit physical problems? On the other hand, we can blame the faceless “Vatican” and its bad PR. That’s more cathartic, apparently.

  23. Supertradmum says:

    I do not understand why we need to know every detail of the Pope’s health, anyway. It seems an invasion of privacy to me and unnecessary. If the Pope can manage his daily duties, and he seems to be doing that very well indeed, what is the problem? I never read about people’s illnesses in the regular press, as it always strikes me as a type of voyeurism. If we care or are concerned that he is using the portable platform, just think what we shall be doing at 84 or 85!

  24. Centristian says:

    For most of the history of the Church, the preponderance of Christians in a largely illiterate world (without photography and reporters) would not even have been able to identify their pope. An awareness of his existence and his paternal role as chief shepherd of Christendom was all Christians had, for the most part. Many may not even have known every incumbent pontiff’s regnal name, much less what illnesses he may have suffered from. Only the clergy, royalty, nobility and the educated upper class would have had a more complete idea of any given bishop of Rome, and only a very, very small number of those would have been familiar with details of his daily life and fewer still his health.

    In this day and age, the most common man on the street all but deems it his right to know anything he wants to know about the personal life and health of any “celebrity”, including the pope, who has become a celebrity. Pope John Paul II made the pope a celebrity and brought the spotlight upon the man and his office, especially upon the man. I don’t personally like the fact that the pope has become a celebrity, but since the pope has so become, this is the sort of thing the Vatican must expect: media controversy over every infirmity (or perceived infirmity) of an octogenarian man.

    I don’t like sharing, and I do not share, details concerning my health with anyone. I have co-workers (mostly females of a certain age) who are never happier than when they are telling each other in great detail every single thing that is wrong with them. I have aunts like that, too. That’s common enough but has always baffled me. To me, one’s personal health issues are just that: personal.

    One of the consequences of modern papal celebrity, however, is that when the pope is one day wheeled into St. Peter’s whereas he had always walked in before, an honest explanation has to be given. If not, media are frenzied, worshippers are concerned, and speculation runs amok. And so the whole world has to be informed of a minor papal medical condition. It might, therefore, have been the better course of action for the PR team in the Vatican to announce, beforehand, that the pope was having such a problem and to prepare the faithful for the sight of him being wheeled into the basilica on a platform the way his predecessor was in his declining years. Yes, he will use the platform, but not by any means for a need as serious as the needs of John Paul II.

    One commenter mentioned the deficiences of the Vatican’s PR machine and I echo the sentiment. They aren’t always the best at what they do. On the one hand, they want to maintain the pope’s modern celebrity. On the other hand, they still attempt to handle matters with that secrecy and mystery that once characterized the papacy, before it was popularized. They try, awkwardly, to have their cake and eat it to, it seems.

    In my own opinion, the papacy would benefit from a retreat from celebrity and popularity. I wonder whether or not that’s even possible at this point. With all due respect and much love for this particular pontiff, Benedict XVI would have seemed just the sort of shy, bookish personality to accomplish such a thing, but the world has become used to a quarter of a century of high-profile papacy. Benedict, I think, has suffered from modern media expectations of the papacy.

    It may be that it’s time to return to the day when the pope doesn’t go out to touch everyone, but rather the world comes to the pope.

  25. irishgirl says:

    I agree with Cincinnati Priest and Supertradmum on this.
    Why should the details of the Holy Father’s health be constantly splashed over the front page and on the TV screen? I get so tired of the ‘vultures’ in the media circling around him.
    I’ve never heard of ‘arthrosis’. Arthritis, yes (I have it in my fingers, especially when the weather gets damp like today), but not arthrosis.
    Continued prayers for our Papa and our Shepherd.

  26. Ellen says:

    I wouldn’t want the Pope to have a knee replacement now. My mother (89) did so and although the knee surgery was successful, she suffered a stroke and is now in a nursing home. Pray for her.

  27. Centristian — I sympathize with your dislike of the celebrity culture and of medical reports on everybody.

    However. For the majority of Christian history (unless one was a Catholic in, say, Mongolia, to which news took several years to travel; an election had just occurred in the last few weeks and news was still spreading to the bishops who hadn’t come; or unless there was antipope nonsense going on) most Catholics were perfectly well aware of who their Pope was. He was prayed for by name, and he was important in politics as well as religion. There is some evidence to show that, even under the Roman persecutions, Catholics knew who was the current bishop of Rome, though it was prudent not to use names except of the deceased, just as it was imprudent to speak openly of the full doctrine or do more than hint at where Peter was buried.

    (And the pagan Roman government was often very interested to find out who a new Pope was. I gather that Emperor Decius said that he disliked hearing of a new imperial pretender less than a new bishop of Rome; the Pope was a lot more dangerous to him.)

  28. Theodore says:

    I generally try not to be nit picky (then why am I doing this you ask) but we all have arthorses.

    http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=8747

    Would the better title have been, does the Pope have arthritis?

  29. IngridAiram says:

    Since I notice some confusion and misconceptions concerning the medical therm arthrosis, I will try to give a short explanation:
    Arthrosis, or in English sometimes also called osteoartritis if I’m not mistaken (I’m Dutch), is a degenerative condition of the joint. It’s just that, degenerative, what you get when two surfaces scrape (?) alongside each other and so destroying the cartilage between the two bones.
    Arthritis on the other hand is something completely different (unlike what is mentioned above). Yes, a joint that has some degenerative problems can get irritated and thus inflamed (getting red, more painfull, warm – not infectious, though that is always possible). But artritis is a true inflammation of the joint, which can be caused by a variety of things, like auto-immune reactions (for example reumatoid artritis) or depositions of small particles (like gout).

    (I mostly just read the blog and the comments, but I felt I should give a little medical explanation seeing the misconceptions and confusion – being a medical doctor myself).

  30. Centristian says:

    Suburbanshee:

    I suspect that the popes from Linus to Gregory XVI could have walked the streets of Rome in broad daylight without being recognized by anyone. Popes Pius IX through Pius XI could have waked through the streets of any other city in the world without turning a single head. It’s not until Pius XII, I suspect, that the pope’s face becomes more or less universally familiar.

    Portraits and busts or mosaics of the popes may have existed, but they weren’t everywhere seen or available, of course, until the late 19th century. Before then (and in most places not until modern times), there were not Catholic gift shops with pictures of the pope available in holy card form or prints to hang on one’s wall, and the common man did not have access to the world of art; only the elite had. In a world without cameras, TV, Ignatius Press, and EWTN, the average Christian’s idea of the incumbent pope of his day would have been rather obscured and his knowledge of details concerning his activities very limited. I don’t think there’s any denying that.

    Yes, the pontiff would have been prayed for in the Canon, a Canon recited quietly in Latin at the altar such that the common worshipper in the pews would not have heard the name of the pope when spoken. I don’t think it is unreasonable, therefore, to imagine that, for many ages, many Christians, many of whom were illiterate and living in times that were not dominated by media, in any case, may not even have known a given incumbent pope’s name.

    Today we not only know the pope’s name (even his pre-papal name) and recognize his face, but we know his personal teachings and thoughts and opinions. We knew alot about who Joseph Ratzinger was, in fact, long before he became pope. We Christians of today may read the incumbent pope’s books and encyclicals, and observe his Masses, his ceremonies, his journeys, and even his weekly Angelus addresses on TV.

    Many Catholics today want to know what the pope thinks about just about anything so they can shape their own insights using his, not because they are “stepford” Catholics or robots, of course, but because they trust and admire the pope and value his opinion. It’s understandable and, to a degree, laudable, provided we don’t go overboard with it.

    Yes, many Catholics do follow the incumbent pope that closely but that they should do so is very modern phenomenon. For most of the history of Christianity, the average Christian didn’t seek to learn what the pope thought about this or that event, apparition, upheaval…what have you. He just would not have been the automatic point of reference that he is today. I sometimes wonder if the Church might not have been better off when we didn’t place so much focus on one man, to be honest.

    Too often, Catholics almost make of the pope the centerpiece of our Catholic religion, the point of reference for absolutely everything. I’m not sure that’s the healthiest approach. “Well, Pope Benedict says,” or “well the pope thinks” are phrases often employed, today, to squelch a dialogue or an exchange about any given matter pertaining to the Church and to the modern world. It’s as if to say, if the incumbent pope thinks so and so about such and such, any decent Christian would naturally agree.

    There was once a time, however, when the average Christian never would have retorted in conversation with, “well the pope says”…because he wouldn’t have known what “the pope says” on any given topic. A man would have had to rely upon what was most likely a strong, well-catechized but simple faith that would have been handed down through generations, without reference to the contemporary pronouncements of an august figure that the average Catholic would not recognize if he bumped into him in a farmer’s market on a Saturday afternoon.

    And nobody, for the better part of the history of Christendom, ever knew that their pope had anything wrong with his joints.

  31. St. Rafael says:

    While Pope Benedict may be the best Pope the Church has had in decades, he is no traditonalist and shouldn’t be confused for one. Acoording to Andra Tornielli’s article, the Holy Father has rejected the sedia gestatoria:

    http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/homepage/inquiries-and-interviews/detail/articolo/sedie-pedane-9547/

    Benedict XVI suffers from artrosis, a problem that affects fifty percent of people over the age of 60. When walking long distances he feel pain in the right hip and he asked to use the mobile platform of his predecessor, Karol Wojtyla, a platform that is pushed through the Saint Peter’s Basilica central nave. However, when his closest aides suggested him to bring out again the old gestatorial chair, which is the former ceremonial mobile throne carried over the shoulders, Ratzinger replied without hesitation, “No, thanks.”

  32. Sedan chairs trigger motionsickness in many. Our Holy Father doesn’t want to add that to his ills!

    Re: peasants not knowing the Pope’s name — This is a vast underestimation of the peasantry. There may have been a few villages back in the wayback who didn’t know the name of their King and their Pope, but those were generally the kind of villages that didn’t have trade, outside visitors, priests and friars even as visitors every few month, or much knowledge of the faith.

    Wherever trade and visitors went, there was news. Wherever there was news, there was chatting about the news.

  33. Lori Pieper says:

    Centristian, I have to say that I also think your version of the popular perception of the papacy is way off. First of all, the Popes from the Middle Ages down to the late 19th century DID go through Rome constantly – in processions and other religious ceremonies, surrounded by crowds of people. Yes, people in Rome at any rate knew what the Pope looked like. The splendid isolation of the Pope as “prisoner of the Vatican” due to Italian politics lasted only from 1870 to 1929. It was an anomaly in papal history.

    And ever since the invention of printing in the 1400′s, there was always been the cheap, popular engraving or woodcut. They were nearly as ubiquitous in newspapers and magazines in the 18th and 19th centuries as photographs are today. You didn’t have to learn to read to know what the Pope looked like. Take it from me as a historian – never underestimate the power of the engraving in history! The 19th century history of the papacy in particular was played out in great detail in newspapers and books with engravings not only of the Pope, but of Vatican I, etc. I have done a bit of study of Leo XIII and Rerum Novarum recently, and believe me, the encyclical got vast newspaper coverage at the time. I also ran across a popular magazine in English from around 1900 that had an extensive personal profile of Pope Leo – with engravings, of course.

    The whole idea that people in earlier ages could never have heard the Pope’s name outside of Mass strikes me as ludicrous. Where do you get your evidence for this? Or for your idea that no one ever talked about the news of the Pope, or that people who couldn’t read weren’t capable of listening to the conversation of those who did?

    Sorry to get carried away, but if you could point me to your evidence, the discussion could be improved a lot.

    Certainly we have made advances in communications, and we do get to be close up to the Pope in ways earlier centuries never could, but your judgment here is far to sweeping.

  34. Andrew Lomas says:

    The down side?! Just the sad realisation that the present Pontiff won’t be with us forever.
    “Sic transit gloria mundi!”

    We should pray for him more and more.

  35. Centristian says:

    @LoriPieper:

    “The whole idea that people in earlier ages could never have heard the Pope’s name outside of Mass strikes me as ludicrous.”

    Me too. But I didn’t say that. I merely responded to somebody else’s statement that all Catholics would have known any given incumbent pope’s name due to the fact that popes were prayed for by name every day (as they, of course, still are at Mass). That alone would not have been informative to the mostly illiterate masses in attendance at Mass, as the prayer for the pope within the Canon was recited silently in Latin.

    I never suggested that the pope’s name was never mentioned outside of Mass, nor did I suggest that zero Catholics knew their pope’s name. My suggestion was that there would surely have been a significant number of (illiterate) Catholics who might not have, given the lack of media and education. There are Catholics, today, in fact (however few), I am sure, who would not correctly name the current pope if asked to do so.

    “First of all, the Popes from the Middle Ages down to the late 19th century DID go through Rome constantly – in processions and other religious ceremonies, surrounded by crowds of people. Yes, people in Rome at any rate knew what the Pope looked like.”

    Sure, pre-media age Romans could easily identify their pope in the streets of Rome…when he was being carried aloft through them on a throne beneath a canopy while wearing a tiara and splendid vestments. Put the same man in a humble black cloak, however, and make him walk down the street by himself and see how many people genuflect as he passes by because they recognize his face based upon a wood engraving that they saw somewhere.

    “I have done a bit of study of Leo XIII and Rerum Novarum recently, and believe me, the encyclical got vast newspaper coverage at the time. I also ran across a popular magazine in English from around 1900 that had an extensive personal profile of Pope Leo – with engravings, of course.”

    Sure. That’s around 1900, though, in a rather literate age. But did the average Catholic of, say, the year 1300 enjoy ready access to and familiarity with the latest papal encyclical (an instrument distributed to the Bishop of Rome’s fellow bishops)?

    I merely mean to say that, for most of the Church’s history, Catholics did not have the ability and in any event did not perceive a need to make constant reference to the incumbent pope, the way many Catholics do today. I don’t think that observation is all that wide of the mark.

  36. Lori Pieper says:

    “I never suggested that the pope’s name was never mentioned outside of Mass, nor did I suggest that zero Catholics knew their pope’s name. My suggestion was that there would surely have been a significant number of (illiterate) Catholics who might not have, given the lack of media and education. There are Catholics, today, in fact (however few), I am sure, who would not correctly name the current pope if asked to do so.”

    Yes, I have met such Catholics myself, amazingly enough. And the strange thing is, none of them were illiterate. They were well-educated. They weren’t poor or deprived. They also had as much access to TV, newspapers and the internet as anyone else. So it would appear that knowledge or lack of it – doesn’t depend on literacy. Far from it. It depends on wanting to know on being interested. If you care, you will find out.

    Some of the best-educated Catholics today appear to be those who know the least about the Pope’s life and background. They are also often the least interested. You wouldn’t find all those “Nazi” cracks among a certain crowd if they cared to know the truth. One Catholic academic recently referred to Benedict as an “Austrian.” I suspect many poor illiterate Catholics in the slums in Brazil know more about the Pope than these people do. So let’s know hold up illiteracy as some sort of mark of knowledge, any more than we should hold up what century you live in as a criterion.

    Pope Clement I, Pope at the end of the first century, addressed a letter to the diocese of Corinth about an interior disciplinary problem, and it was immediately copied and sent to other dioceses in the area, not because all of it applied to them, but because they all wanted to read the words of Peter’s successor. Think how many man-hours it took to copy such a document by hand (it’s fairly long), and you will get an idea of the interest. On the other hand, what do most Catholics today know about encyclicals beyond their titles? And how many ever read them, even though they’re available a mouse click away on the internet? Knowledge is cheap today, and consequently little prized. In some way, the opposite was true in earlier centuries.

    It certainly wasn’t my intention to suggest that detailed knowledge of the Pope’s doings or writings could be accessed by everyone in the past, or that interest levels were as constant as they are now, just that some of your conclusions about knowledge in the past rest on shaky grounds.

  37. Penta says:

    I will leave commentary on the Pope as celebrity, as media figure, etc. to others.

    However, specifically regarding the Pope’s medical condition: It is, to my estimation, much better for the Vatican to be transparent and open about things (within reason), than to follow the current “see no issue, hear no issue, speak no issue” policy…for a very simple reason:

    The only other government on the planet, within the last half century, that tried that trick and remotely got away with it was the Soviet government. Is it so wrong not to want to invite comparisons between the Vatican and the Kremlin, of all things?

    I’m quite serious, that’s who the current Vatican attitude to health issues reminds me of: The Kremlin. The General Secretary has a cold, always a cold…until he suddenly dies.

    A little transparency might be uncomfortable for the Pontiff, but…well…It comes with the job, just like the round-the-clock security detail.

  38. Denita says:

    Cincinnati Priest & Supertradmom, I agree.
    Richard T – like THAT will ever happen