Indiana Gazette from Indiana, Pennsylvania on September 13, 1990 · Page 8
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Indiana Gazette from Indiana, Pennsylvania · Page 8

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Indiana, Pennsylvania
Issue Date:
Thursday, September 13, 1990
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Page 8
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Page 8 — Monday, September 15, 2003 WORLD Ailing pope's trip may be last By WILLIAM J. KOLE Associated Press Writer BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — It's a question that dogs the Vatican and troubles the faithful: Could Pope John Paul II's draining pilgrimage to Slovakia be his last foreign tour? The 83-year-old pope's struggles to overcome the debilitating effects of Parkinson's disease and crippling hip and knee ailments have raised fresh doubts about his ability to endure the rigors of the road. The Vatican, unwilling to write off future trips for history's most- traveled pope, says John Paul is likely to accept at least some of the four invitations under consideration for next year from Austria, France, Switzerland and his native Poland. Although the pope's health problems are obvious, "it is very moving how he has incorporated the physical limitations into the way he performs his ministry," papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls told reporters Sunday. Those limitations "don't hamper in any way the way he per- forms his dudes," he said. Asked whether Slovakia, John Paul's last scheduled trip, would be his final one, Navarro-Valls replied: "I don't think so. Knowing the Holy Father, it is very difficult to say it will be the last trip of his pontificate." Yet many of the pilgrims who turned,out for a glimpse of John Paul during his four days in Slovakia expressed what the faithful worldwide can't help but wonder: How long he can be expected to carry on? "People come with great expectations, and he can read only three sentences. That's disappointing," said Sidonia Sedlacko- va, 55, one of 200,000 people who gathered for John Paul's final Mass on Sunday. In Slovakia, he failed to get through his brief arrival remarks' for the first time in 102 foreign trips. Later, he slumped in his chair, slurred his words, gasped for breath and handed off his speeches to aides to finish. 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