VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope John Paul II had a restful night and his condition stabilized after he was rushed to a hospital with breathing trouble, but he will spend several more days at the clinic to recover from the flu, the Vatican said yesterday.

Around the world, Roman Catholics paused to pray for the health of the 84-year-old pontiff.

Tests showed John Paul’s heart and respiration were normal, and he got several hours’ rest after being taken by ambulance to the hospital Tuesday night, papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said. The pontiff was running a slight fever from the flu and would spend “a few more days” at Rome’s Gemelli Polyclinic for treatment of respiratory problems, he said.

“There is no cause for alarm,” Navarro-Valls said.

The pope has Parkinson’s disease, and Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, the Vatican’s top health official, told Associated Press Television News that the slumping pontiff’s inability to hold his back up straight has left his lungs and diaphragm in a crushed position.

Navarro-Valls insisted the pope had never lost consciousness, and he did not need a tracheotomy to insert a tube into his windpipe to help him breathe. He said John Paul participated from his hospital bed in a Mass celebrated by his secretary in the room.

Navarro-Valls characterized Tuesday night’s hurried admission to a special papal suite on the 10th floor of the hospital as “mainly precautionary.”

Trying to appear reassuring, Navarro-Valls even joked at one point that John Paul was taken by ambulance to the hospital because “the subway doesn’t go that far.”

Navarro-Valls, who has a medical degree, told The Associated Press early yesterday the pope had the flu and acute laryngeal tracheitis _ inflammation of the windpipe _ and suffered a “certain difficulty in breathing.” He denied Italian news reports that John Paul had a CAT scan at the hospital and was taken to intensive care.


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