Falwell Hospitalized in Critical Condition

The Rev. Jerry Falwell (search) was hospitalized in critical condition Tuesday, battling his second case of viral pneumonia in just five weeks, hospital and church officials said.

Falwell, 71, was admitted to Lynchburg General Hospital (search) shortly before midnight Monday suffering from "respiratory arrest," the hospital said in a statement, meaning his breathing had slowed or stopped.

"His cardiac status is stable and there is no evidence of a heart attack," said hospital spokesman Tom Urtz, reading from a statement. "He is alert and responding to questions.

"Rev. Falwell is clinically stable, but is still critically ill," he said.

Ron Godwin, Falwell's executive assistant, said Falwell was "on a respirator and he's resting comfortably."

Doctors said they expected to have a clearer prognosis Wednesday.

Godwin told the News & Advance of Lynchburg that Falwell was driven to the hospital Monday night by his wife, Marcel.

"He lost consciousness just as they got to the hospital," Godwin said. "He slumped over as they were getting there."

Godwin said when he visited Falwell on Tuesday evening, Falwell was responsive.

"He smiled at me and shook my hand," Godwin said. "It seems like he's going to be able to shake this thing off."

Falwell, the founder of the Moral Majority (search) and Liberty University (search), had left the hospital March 4 after 13 days, spending part of the time on a ventilator.

In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Falwell said he was feeling much better but still recovering from his hospital stay.

Falwell had been in the pulpit Easter Sunday at Thomas Road Baptist Church and appeared in good health, said the Rev. Dave Randlett, a senior associate pastor.

"He always looks `up' so you wouldn't know if he wasn't" feeling well, Randlett said. "He was very optimistic."

An avid sports fan, Falwell had made the trip to Chattanooga, Tenn., on Saturday to see Liberty University's team play in the third round of the NCAA women's basketball tournament. The team lost. He also had been in the crowd March 22 when it won in the second round in College Park, Md.