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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 March, 2005, 11:34 GMT
Pope gives blessing from hospital
Pope John Paul II at the window of his hospital in Rome
Aides say the Pope is "well, serene"
Pope John Paul II has made a brief and silent appearance at his hospital window in Rome during Sunday's Angelus prayers to bless pilgrims.

Looking frail and weak, the Pope made a sign of the cross and waved at the crowds of well-wishers.

The pontiff, who is convalescing after throat surgery, made a similar appearance last week.

There has been no indication of when he will be fit enough to leave the hospital and return to the Vatican.

Sunday's prayers were led by Archbishop Leonardo Sandri in St Peter's Square for the second time in two weeks.

The Pope watched proceedings from a wheelchair in hospital.

'Comforting sign'

Shortly before, in a message read out by an aide to pilgrims at the Vatican, the pope thanked Jews and Muslims for their prayers for his recovery.

"I want to express special recognition of the closeness of believers of other religions, particularly Jews and Muslims," he said.

"Some of them wanted to come and pray here at the hospital. And that for me is a comforting sign, for which I thank God."

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: Makes surprise appearance at hospital window
6 Mar: Makes silent blessing from hospital window

Last week was the first time during his 26-year papacy that he had not led the Angelus prayers.

The BBC's David Willey in Rome says that for the first time ever, there is the chance that the Pope will miss the Easter celebrations at the end of March.

Easter is the highpoint of the Catholic Church's year with a packed schedule of appearances for the Pope culminating in a procession to the Colosseum on Good Friday.

However, the Vatican insists he is still able to deal with urgent business from his hospital room.

The 84-year-old pontiff was admitted to Rome's Gemelli hospital on 24 February with breathing difficulties.

The Pope's health is complicated by Parkinson's disease, which leads to a gradual reduction of muscle control.

It was the second time in a month that the Pontiff has had to be taken to hospital. He spent 10 days at the same hospital in February suffering from flu-related symptoms.

Crowds offer their support and good will to the Pope


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