Report: Pope May Get Feeding Tube

Pope John Paul II (search) may have to return to the hospital to have a feeding tube inserted, an Italian news agency reported Tuesday. It stressed that no decision had been made.

The APcom news agency, citing an unidentified source, said the 84-year-old pope might have to have the tube inserted to improve his nutrition since he is having difficulty swallowing with the breathing tube that was inserted Feb. 24.

APcom said the idea of inserting a feeding tube was a hypothesis that was being considered. The procedure involves inserting a tube into the stomach to allow for artificial feeding.

Earlier Tuesday, the Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported that the pope's doctors were considering a new hospitalization next week both to perform tests on the breathing tube and to adjust his diet because of problems swallowing.

There was no comment from the Vatican. Nicola Cerbino, a spokesman at Polyclinic Gemelli (search) hospital where John Paul was rushed twice last month, called it media speculation.

Another newspaper, La Repubblica, quoted the pope's Vatican physician, Dr. Renato Buzzonetti, as saying doctors are "reasonably calm" about the frail pope's condition.

The pontiff, who was unable to preside at Holy Week events, skipped another tradition Monday — a post-Easter blessing from his window — ending the Easter holiday as silently as he began it.

A few hundred people had gathered in St. Peter's Square in hopes that John Paul would appear as he has on each Easter Monday of his 26-year pontificate, and Vatican TV cameras zoomed in on his third-floor window at about noon.

But the curtains remained closed as the pope continued his recovery from throat surgery.

"Despite the regret, we're happy because it's good that he continues his convalescence without strain," said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, head of programming at Radio Vatican.

John Paul's appearance on Easter Sunday — when he tried but failed to speak — was still on the minds of many at the Vatican, a dramatic end to a Holy Week in which the pope's suffering was clearly evident.

John Paul had come to his studio window at the end of Easter Mass to bless the tens of thousands of people in the square below. Aides readied a microphone, and he tapped it as if preparing to speak. But after uttering a few unintelligible sounds, he made the sign of the cross with his hand and the microphone was taken away.

Vatican Radio said Monday it would be difficult to ever forget the pope's pained "Urbi et Orbi" blessing and that it would "remain in the history of the church and humanity."

"This silence — full of emotion and desire to speak beyond the physical ability to communicate — spoke to us perhaps as never before the universal language of love," Lombardi said. "For us it was enough. We understood what the pope wanted to say, and how much he wanted to bless us."

John Paul last spoke to the public March 13, shortly before he was discharged from the hospital for a second time in a month. In addition to the breathing tube, John Paul suffers from Parkinson's disease, which makes it difficult for him to talk.