03/11/2005, 00.00
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Pope's voice heard in footage from hospital

The Pope's voice is heard for the first time since his tracheotomy in a mass also attended by Tanzanian bishops.

Rome (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Vatican Television Center Friday showed footage of Pope John Paul II speaking at a mass, the first such sounds since he underwent tracheotomy at Rome's Gemelli Hospital.

"Our help is in the name of the Lord" were his first words, taken from the blessing, before the TV camera.

The Pope's personal secretary, Stanisław Dziwicz, celebrated the mass in the hospital's chapel. Two Tanzanian prelates on their visit ad limina were among those present.

John Paul II looked reasonably well, but had moments in which he was visibly in pain.

His voice was initially hoarse, then became clearer, and the final blessing was clearly enunciated.

The pope had not been heard in public since February 24. Only his closest aides have been able to speak with him.

At the end of the mass visiting Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, Archbishop of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, said in English: "Holy Father, all of Tanzania is praying for you," to which the Pope replied briefly in Italian: "Va bene, va bene" (good, good)."

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