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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 March, 2005, 13:04 GMT
Pope 'to leave clinic by Easter'
Pope John Paul II at his hospital window
The Pope's recovery is said to be progressing "regularly"
Pope John Paul II should be discharged from hospital within the next 10 days, a Vatican spokesman said.

Joaquin Navarro-Valls said the Pope would be back in the Vatican for the start of Easter holy week on 20 March.

The Pope had decided to extend his stay at Rome's Gemelli hospital on doctors' orders "in order to complete his convalescence", the spokesman said.

The pontiff has been in hospital since 24 February, when he had surgery to ease breathing difficulties.

No exact date has been given for his discharge.

Recovery

The Pope will not be leading any of the Easter week ceremonies because of the decline in his health, but he will give his traditional Easter week blessing to the City of Rome and to the world on Easter Sunday.

The Pope, 84, suffers from Parkinson's disease and other ailments.

He was re-admitted to the hospital just two weeks after he was treated there for flu-like symptoms.

The Vatican said that the Pope's health continues to improve and that he has been responding well to speech and breathing therapy.

However, it is not yet clear to what extent he expects to recover the use of his voice, says the BBC's David Willey in Rome.

Since his operation, the Pope has not attempted to speak to the faithful but he has been uttering a few words to selected visitors allowed to see him at the hospital.

He also has appeared at his hospital window three times to wave at pilgrims.



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