Pope John Paul II has returned to the Vatican after spending eight days in Rome's Gemelli hospital recovering from throat spasms which were caused by flu.
Before the 84-year-old pontiff was discharged a Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls announced that, "The laryngo-tracheitis which required the urgent hospitalisation of the Holy Father, has been cured".
Earlier this week the Vatican accepted, for the first time, that the Pope might choose to step down, saying the matter should be left "to his conscience".
What is your reaction to the Pope's recovery? Do you think the Pope should choose to step down?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:
Can we please clear one thing up here. The Pope is not heroically carrying on, he is doing so because there is no mechanism which would allow him or any future Popes to step down or retire. The Catholic Church should haul itself into the 21st century and change this archaic ruling. After many years of service to God, surely any person of failing health should have the right to step down if they wish. Not being able to retire smacks of Human Rights injustice to me. Even a Monarch can step down & abdicate, so why not a Pope? That aside, I wish the Pope my best wishes for a continued reprieve of further illness.
Karen Smith, Milton Keynes UK
I do not have a faith and think that overall the organised religions of the world have done more harm than good. However the current Pope has been a force for good and during his time in office has helped move the world away from nuclear destruction. He has had a real impact but now is perhaps the time for him to step aside and let a younger man bring the Roman Catholic church with all its problems into the 21st century.
Milton, Bath UK
The Vatican must reform the Pope's position to reflect modern, medically assisted increased life spans. The Pope's diminished capacity is evident;the Pope should be retired.
Mary Kirk, Sarasota USA
The Pope embodies the quintessential courage inspiration and humility. I am delightfully pleased and celestially thankful he is better. The Pope is the Pope in sickness and in health. The Pope should not step down.
Cidi Olujie PhD, Wyoming, NSW, Australia
I particularly don't like the Catholic Church. I think it has caused more harm than good all over the world and destroyed cultures and whole peoples - its legacy is one of suffering. But as with any other human being, I hope this man's good health returns. I don't like seeing others suffer, even the head of such an organisation. If he can't do what he is supposed to do, he should retire. But as his job is simply to be a figurehead, then like a monarch, he should stay.
Jennifer Hynes, Plymouth, UK
Pope John Paul's heroic witness and determination to continue to serve in office shows to the world the heart of Christianity - love of God and love of humanity. The power of the gospel is best shown through perseverance through suffering, just as it was shown by Jesus 2,000 years ago on the cross.
Nick Donnelly, Barrow-in-Furness, England
I am not a catholic but I have always liked Pope John Paul II. Something inside me tells me he is a great man, and I am glad he is better.
Noel Meredith, Merthyr Tydfil, Wales
It's good that he has made a recovery, but I am concerned that the Vatican has made no choice on a successor. He won't be around forever, and when he does die, who will lead the millions of Catholics around the world? After all, the Pope has a lot of influence over the lives of millions of people. I think it's time he chose someone to take over. Hopefully the next Pope will lift the insane ban on contraceptives.
Mark, Brisbane, Australia
The Pope should continue for as long as he feels able to. It will be a sad day when he dies but he will have fulfilled his duties to the end.
Most of the people who want the Pope to stand down or for the church to change are non-Catholics. Please, understand that this is a matter for our church. As a great pontiff, he is a source of inspiration for us. May he live for many years.
I think the Pope John Paul is an inspirational leader. His strength of faith in his suffering is magnificent, he is truly practicing what he preaches, and is an example the world over. He is showing that a human being has worth simply because they are a human being, not for what they can or can't do. His faith will lead the church, and the Lord will decide when to call him home. God bless him in his work, and long may it continue.
C McLarty, Scotland
Becoming the Pope has become a bondage in view of the fact that he cannot resign or retire even if he has to struggle through with poor health condition as with this present one. It tends to make the Pope look as if he was born to be the Pope as nobody could assume that position in his life time in place of him. The Catholic institution should look into it so as not to make a mockery of themselves as being undemocratic. After this one, they should re-organize themselves and put a time limit for a Pope to be in office and make an allowance to retire or resign if in a poor state of health.
Nnanna Iroh, Lagos, Nigeria
I believe that if he were to step aside and let someone else take over it would not tarnish the church. Let him continue on as the Bishop of Rome and Pope (emeritus). He would still have some say in the church but he would let someone who can manage the church run it. At 84, he has served his church and now he should let someone else have that opportunity to do so.
James, Cottonwood, AZ, USA
With all my respect for this great person. I think he should have a time off. Nowadays the Vatican needs new blood to face the serious changes all over the world.
Fredrick, Chicago, USA
In a world too ready to dispose of people not deemed to be fit (Downs babies etc.) our Holy Father is a tremendous example of the dignity of all people regardless of their health. No doubt, it would be easier for him to step down. But with logic not understood by the world, as the true suffering servant, he continues to lead the Church both able-minded and through uniting his suffering with Christ crucified.
Regan Wick, Denville, New Jersey
I have full confidence in the Pope's wisdom to make his own decisions. He is better aware of his physical condition than any of us and I am grateful for his leadership.
Barbara Merlihan, Windsor, Canada
Whether or not the Holy Father should step down is not even a proper question to be asking. There is no such thing as a Pontiff Emeritus. He was elected Pope for life and there is no reason to debate otherwise. Pope John Paul II has done amazing things for the Holy Catholic Church and for the world, and I am grateful to the doctors at Gemelli hospital for bringing him back to health so that he may continue his holy work.
Maria, San Francisco, USA
This is just the latest crisis. He has looked beyond frail for years. The problem is that modern medicine has extended beyond Rome's doctrine of prolonging life regardless of quality. It might be this crisis for Rome will teach them to be more accepting of real people's problems in the future.
Cassandra Levine, Gwynedd Valley, USA
As long as this Pope's mind and soul is in sound shape, I see no reason for him to step down, unless he chooses so. It bemuses me that so many people wish it though, especially in the name of "change." Tell me please what change does the church need to undergo? Is there something wrong with it, the way it is now? Does it include that their may be something wrong with Christianity also? In that case, does God need to have a second son to bring about change in the religion also? Asking for the element of change to take place within this institution sounds ridiculous.
The Pope took an oath to head the church until death. For a man in his position, as the living personification of the faith and spiritual leader of the world's 1,000,000,000 Catholics, he cannot but uphold that oath until God decides he is finished. He cannot step down; to do so would defy the faith he has spent a life serving. Also, he has been such a powerful voice for peace and reconciliation between faiths that he would be sorely missed if he stepped down.
Shawn Hampton, Colorado Springs, CO
John Paul II has been Pope for over 25 years. Being on the seat for another while won't hurt. So why step down?
Shaheer, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Those who think the Pope should step down do not understand what a priest is. A priest is there to offer his sacrifices in union with and in petition to God for our salvation. That the Pope willingly stays on as an active Pope till his dying breath is witness to this. It is an act of love that we would all do well to emulate. God bless the Pope.
John, Mansfield, MA, USA
No, I do not think the Pope will step down. His mind reportedly is still quite keen, and he realizes that, even with his debilitating physical infirmities from Parkinsonism, he is a powerful witness to his faith for all of mankind. Further, he is a role model for aging populations in the midst of societies that glamorize youth and idolize the young. May God bless and keep him!
Amy Norwood, Baltimore, MD
I think the Pope won't step down because his pontiff is not a job but a mission of his life. Strength and fitness isn't necessary to be a Pope.
On some of his more traditional Catholic views I may disagree with him strongly, but one thing is clear - suffering from Parkinson's and severe arthritis, he has chosen to do far more than most healthy people would do. I think to him, his duty and his faith mean more than his own dignity and grace, but there will come a point before he passes away that he will be simply unable to carry out his duties. He will need to stand down.
Darryl LeCount, Paderborn, Germany
I don't think age should be an issue in whether anyone retires from his/her work - however, I do wonder why a person would choose to remain in a position when very ill. The ego sometimes fools us into thinking we must remain in place for the good of all - but, the truth is best seen the consequences of one's actions. So, the Pope must ask himself if he can truly lead his Church. If it were me, I would rather retire and enjoy the rest of my days near a lake, reading all those wonderful books I never had time to read and leave the hard work to someone younger and in good health.
Steve, Los Angeles, CA, USA
He should step down. How much can someone in his deteriorating condition really be expected to do? If he can't do the job he was chosen for any longer due to ill health, it's time to retire. There's no shame in it. He has served admirably and earned his rest.
Debbie, Marietta, GA, USA
I think that it is definitely time for the Pope to step down. The Catholic Church is screaming for a breath of fresh air. New ideas, practices, and expectations are absolutely essential during this difficult time for the church. The Catholic Church's future depends on it.
Lisa, Rochester Hills, MI
I am pleased that the Pope has made a recovery. I suspect if he does not regain the energy to engage is his day to day activities, that he will indeed step down.
Matt Sampson, Minneapolis, MN
I doubt the Pope will step down, though he should have done it years ago. The church has suffered from not having a younger, healthy and effective pontiff to lead it.
Cheryl Helm, Columbus, OH, USA
The Holy Father should not step down. He has lasted this long through all of his health problems and assassination attempts. He is the leader of the Catholic faith on earth and only his final passing away can release him from that.
Anthony Nolan, Carlow, Ireland
Pope John Paul II has done his best, but now deserves to rest from his hard work. We can only wish him well and hope that his time still on earth will not cause him any more pain.
Ken Ingle, Bielefeld, Germany
I don't believe he will nor do I see why he should.
Tim Nugent, Washington, DC, USA
Mankind, be they holy or unworthy will finally succumb to the pains of a prolonged existence because the body is defective, and therefore not self-sufficient, the art of medicine was developed to provide it with things which were good for it; but life is defective of time, and cure an infinite solution on which no one individual can capitalize on. Long live the Pope.
Blanshard Meheux, Freetown, Sierra Leone
He has done so much to inspire the world. Now please let him stand down with grace and dignity.
Ed Johnson, Zurich, Switzerland
While I am sorry that the Pope has been feeling ill, I think it's in his best interest to step down. The schedule he maintains must be difficult. He has made great contributions to the Catholic Church and we will all miss him dearly. God Speed!
Angelo Garbelli, NYC, USA
I know this is a hard fact for Catholics around the world to accept, but the Pope needs to step down while he is still able to do so. The Pope shows more signs of his age every day and the stress of being head of the Catholic faith cannot be good for this man's health.
Chris, Austin, TX, USA