Pope John Paul II had a heart attack and his condition is "very serious," a Vatican spokesman said.
The 84-year-old leader of the world's 1 billion Roman Catholics, who is conscious, had "a urinary tract infection, septic shock, and a cardiocirculatory collapse occurred," a statement from the Vatican said, read today by a spokesman who declined to be identified. The pope received the last rites, given to a person approaching death, the spokesman said.
The pontiff's condition deteriorated last night after treatment for a fever. He has spoken once in public since having a tracheotomy on Feb. 24 and was hospitalized twice in February due to breathing problems. On March 27 he failed to read an Easter blessing for the first time in his 26-year papacy.
While urinary-tract infections with a high fever are common among the elderly and are treatable with antibiotics, patients whose immune systems are already weakened can go into septic shock, according to Kambiz Tajkarimi, a urologist at George Washington University Hospital in Washington.
I hate to type this, but it looks like we are just hours away from Pope John Paul II's death.
He has been a great man, throughout his entire life. Opposing communists, wars, and social leftists, he has made many enemies over the years. I cannot say I have agreed with every one of his positions, and I'm not even a Catholic, so it's sorta moot for me anyway.
But I have always admired his grace and basic compassion and decency. He will be greatly missed. The man who will follow him has some enormous shoes to fill....