Though John Paul II is recovering and is not thought to be in immediate danger, doctors are worried his inability to swallow easily may require him in the future to be fed intravenously

- by Inside the Vatican staff

ROME, Italy, February 27, 2005 -- Appearing well on the road to recovery following his second hospitalization in four weeks for breathing difficulties associated with a case of the flu, Pope John Paul II at noon today greeted well-wishers with a smile, standing, from behind a closed window on the 10th floor of the Gemelli Clinic in Rome.

But a doctor contacted by Inside the Vatican has revealed that physicians attending the Pope are so concerned about the advance of his Parkinson's condition and his consequent difficulty in swallowing that they are weighing the option of feeding him via a tube, intravenously.

Our source advised: "His heart is very strong. The problem is that, during this last month, his Parkinson's disease has grown more serious. The Pope has difficulty swallowing food. Should this situation continue or worsen, it may be necessary to resort to feeding him continuously via tubes.

"The other problem around the corner is not so much the problem of speaking (the Pope should be able to begin speaking again within 10 or 12 days) but rather pulmonary edema. As a result, in part, of his Parkinson's, the lungs of the Pope are no longer able to expell a sufficient quantity of liquids, which accumulate inside the lungs, so that the Pope is at risk of dying, using an example which is perhaps a bit extreme, as if by drowning.

"This clinical and pathological picture means that from now on the Pope, once he returns to his apartment in the Vatican, will have to be attended, not only as he has been for the past two years by one doctor, but by a team of three doctors or specialized nurses, around the clock."

Despite these concerns, the consensus in Rome, based on a number of generally reliable sources, is that the Pope will proceed to exercise his pontifical office for some considerable time, "not just weeks or months, but for years," as one generally well-informed source put it.

It is in this context, then, that one must set renewed rumors in Rome of a new consistory to appoint new cardinals.

It is widely thought now that the Pope will choose between 15 and 20 new cardinals, and create them at a consistory at the end of June this year (2005).

Some say the consistory could come even sooner; other suggest it will be in October.

The names of the new cardinals would be announced, according to tradition, 30 days prior to the concistory, which is a gathering in Rome where the Pope publicly places the red hat on each of the new cardinals.

There are currently 119 cardinals with the right to vote in a papal conclave. During 2005 and 2006, another 16 cardinals will pass age 80, at which point they lose the right to vote in a conclave.

Thus, it is thought that the Pope can name about 16 cardinals this summer, to "fill up" the College of Cardinals through the end of 2006.

By the end of this year (2005), Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Cardinal Angelo Sodano, John Paul's two closest aides, and Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini of Milan (still one of the most influential cardinals, though now retired), will be 78, and so all three of them could still participate in a conclave throughout 2006.

Three men who seem likely to receive cardinal's hats in an eventual consitory this summer are the Italian Archbishop Carlo Caffara of Bologna, the Polish Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, President of the Vatican's Council for the Laity, and the French Archbishop of Tours, Andre Vingt-Trois, who has just succeeded Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger as the Archbishop of Paris.