The Pope has taken a turn for the worse, suddenly running a high fever as a result of a urinary-tract infection. CNN reports his condition as “serious”, but radio reports have the Italian authorities sealing off the streets around the Holy See:
Pope John Paul II’s condition remained “serious” early Friday, but he appeared to be responding well to antibiotic treatment for a urinary tract infection that caused him to develop a fever, a Vatican official said.
Thursday night, as his health deteriorated, the pontiff was given the last rites of the Roman Catholic Church, a Vatican source told CNN.
The sacrament does not necessarily mean that the pope is dying. Last rites — also known as the sacrament of the sick or extreme unction — are commonly given to people who are seriously ill as well.
The First Mate, in fact, has received the sacrament prior to her transplant surgeries, so it should not necessarily be seen as a sign of surrender. However, given all of the recent changes in his health, we Catholics (and many others, I’m sure) want to pray for John Paul now, that he recover if that is God’s will, but that he remain comforted regardless.
UPDATE: The Pope appears to be stabilizing, according to Reuters:
“The Pope’s health is stabilizing,” said Father Konrad Hejmo, who is in charge of Polish pilgrims to the Vatican and has close ties to the Pontiff’s inner circle.
Hejmo told reporters that the Pope’s latest health crisis came about because he had lost a lot of weight following his recent throat surgery and because of a reaction to having a feeding tube inserted into his stomach. “The fever and the fall in (blood) pressure was the reaction of his body to the loss of 42 lb and being fed via a tube,” he said.
Despite the highly disturbing news that the Pope has lost 42 pounds during his illness — an undeniably bad indication for regaining his long-term strength — the positive response to his treatment gives us hope that he may yet recover. Prayers continue.