[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Sunday, 13 February, 2005, 12:09 GMT
Pope appears for Vatican prayers
The Pope in the Vatican
The Pope's words were barely audible but he looked alert
The Pope has appeared at the Vatican in Rome for his usual Sunday blessing for the first time since leaving hospital.

Thousands of pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square to hear the 84-year-old Pope following his nine-day stay for treatment for a throat infection.

The Pope sat at his window as an aide read his homily in which the pontiff thanked all those who supported him through his treatment.

His appearance was aimed at showing himself able to continue his mission.


The Pope held up a trembling hand to greet the pilgrims and said a few barely audible words but looked alert.

His address, read by a member of the Vatican household, said: "I would like to thank you - and those many following on radio and television - for your closeness, affection and above all prayer during my hospitalisation at the Gemelli Polyclinic.

Pope John Paul
The Pope returned from hospital in the popemobile on Thursday

"I always need your help before the Lord, for carrying out my mission that Jesus entrusted to me."

The Pope also appealed for the release of the Italian journalist, Giuliana Sgrena, and other hostages held in Iraq

At the end of the appearance, the Pope said: "Good Sunday to everybody. Thank you."

Last Sunday, he had managed a brief appearance at the window of his hospital suite, but there was concern about his weak and hoarse voice.

The BBC's David Willey in Rome says in future appearances the Pope will continue to use the voices of his aides to express himself in public.

But the Vatican continues to insist the Pope remains perfectly able to continue to run the Catholic Church despite his infirmity.

By making the return journey on Thursday from hospital in his "popemobile" with maximum visibility and again with Sunday's Angelus blessing, the message is that business continues as usual, our correspondent says.

Watch Pope John Paul II's Vatican appearance

'Cured' Pope returns to Vatican
10 Feb 05 |  Europe
Ailing Pope misses Lent service
09 Feb 05 |  Europe
Pope's troubled health history
02 Feb 05 |  Europe
Profile: Pope John Paul II
01 Feb 05 |  Europe
A life in pictures
15 Oct 03 |  In Depth


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific