VATICAN CITY – Pope John Paul II, who had already canceled several days of appointments, was rushed to the hospital Tuesday night with complications of the flu, the Vatican said.
The pope, 84, who has been in poor health for several years, fell ill with influenza Sunday.
“The flu condition that has afflicted the Holy Father for the past three days deteriorated tonight with an acute laryngospasm,” the Vatican said in a statement. “For this reason, it was decided to urgently take the Pope to the Gemelli hospital.”
Laryngospasm is a closing of the larynx that blocks the passage of air to the lungs.
Until shortly before 11 p.m., the Vatican had appeared calm, with no traffic or sign of an alert, and Vatican radio had just issued reassuring news about his condition. Suddenly, cars with Vatican license plates began speeding toward to the hospital, according to an Associated Press correspondent at the scene.
The Vatican makes brief announcements when the pope takes ill but rarely provides details on the extent of the illness or any medicine he may be taking. In addition to Parkinson’s disease, he suffers from crippling knee and hip ailments.
I fear he may not be alive much longer. Such an old man, with so many ailments, now apparently suffering from complications caused by influenza…
This Pope has bounced back from the brink before, and I hope he does so again. But if not, there will be a period of global mourning.
And then the politics of succession will begin in earnest…