Pope’s cancer report "totally unfounded,” says Father Lombardi
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, denied a report released by an Italian newspaper that Pope Francis had a small but curable tumour on his brain.
According to the paper, the pontiff travelled by helicopter to Tuscany to see a world-renowned Japanese brain surgeon. In a later version, it reported that the brain specialist had travelled by helicopter to the Vatican in January.
In an initial statement, Father Lombardi said, "The circulation of entirely unfounded news regarding the health of the Holy Father by an Italian newspaper is gravely irresponsible and unworthy of attention. Furthermore, as is clearly evident, the Pope is carrying out his very intense activity in a totally normal way."
At the start of today’s daily briefing of the Synod on the Family, the Holy See Press Office director added, “I fully confirm my previous statement, having verified the facts with the appropriate sources, including the Holy Father. No Japanese doctor has visited the Pope in the Vatican and there have been no examinations of the type indicated in the article.
“The competent offices have confirmed that there have been no arrivals of external parties in the Vatican by helicopter; similarly, there were no arrivals of this type during the month of January.” Indeed, “I am able to confirm that the Pope is in good health.”
“I reiterate that the publication of this false information is a grave act of irresponsibility, absolutely inexcusable and unconscionable. It would be equally unjustifiable to continue to fuel similarly unfounded information. It is hoped, therefore, that this matter be closed immediately.”
In a related issue, Father Lombardi noted that what Prof Giulio Maira said about tumours "does not refer to what was reported about the Pope."
"Prof Maira phoned me on his own to tell me that a reporter called him in New York, where is at present, and only asked him general questions about brain tumours, without making any reference to the pope, about whom he knew absolutely nothing. He gave general answers. He believes he was tricked," Lombardi said.
The Press Office director’s denial is echoed in world media. On its website, the BBC said, “Pope Francis 'tumour': Vatican denies 'spot on brain'.” On Bloomberg, the title is “Pope Brain Tumor Report Is `A Complete Lie,' Vatican Says”.
Other US media also reported the Vatican's cancer denial, including ABC, NBC, and USAToday, as did Reuters and Argentinian newspaper Clarín.