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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 March, 2005, 12:44 GMT
Recovering Pope begins speaking
The Pope at his hospital window
The Vatican has been pleased by the Pope's recovery
The Pope has begun speaking again, just days after having emergency surgery on his throat, the Vatican has said.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a senior Vatican official, said Pope John Paul II conducted a working meeting at Rome's Gemelli Hospital.

The pontiff spoke in both Italian and German during the meeting, the cardinal told reporters.

The Pope was admitted to hospital last week suffering from breathing problems, and underwent an emergency tracheotomy.

"The Holy Father spoke to me in German and Italian. He was very alert. He will be working on some of the documentation that I brought to him," Cardinal Ratzinger said as he left the hospital.

THE POPE'S ILLNESS
1 Feb: Taken to hospital with "breathing difficulties brought on by flu"
6 Feb: Appears at hospital window and reads part of Angelus blessing in weak voice
9 Feb: Misses Ash Wednesday services at the Vatican
10 Feb: Returns to Vatican in motorcade, waving
13 Feb: Appears for Sunday blessing at Vatican
22 Feb: Launches book in which he compares abortion to the Holocaust
24 Feb: Returns to hospital following a relapse; has tracheotomy
27 Feb: Waves at supporters from hospital window
1 Mar: Begins speaking again, Vatican says

"I am very happy to see the Holy Father is very alert, both mentally and in his capacity to say essential things with his own voice," he added.

Vatican officials have previously said that the 84-year-old suffered no post-operative complications after the tracheotomy, carried out last Thursday in an effort to free his breathing.

On Sunday the Pope made a surprise appearance at the window of the hospital, where he waved to supporters and pilgrims waiting outside.

He made the sign of the cross but did not speak, the first time in 26 years as head of the Catholic church that he did not deliver his weekly address.

Last month the Pope spent 10 days at Gemelli being treated for flu and breathing difficulties, only to be re-admitted last week.

There has been no word on when he might be discharged from hospital, sparking concern that he may miss Easter services later this month.




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