Story of Pope brain tumour 'unfounded,' says Vatican
The Vatican has denied an Italian media report yesterday that Pope Francis has a benign brain tumour, calling the article "gravely irresponsible and unworthy of attention".
Francis later held his weekly general audience before tens of thousands of people in St Peter's Square and was due to return to a three-week gathering of Roman Catholic bishops from around the world, which he has been attending daily.
The newspaper 'Quotidiano Nazionale', a national paper based in central Italy, reported the news of the Pope's brain tumour on its front page yesterday.
It said that a Japanese doctor and his team had secretly flown from Tuscany to the Vatican on a helicopter bearing the Vatican's white and yellow flag to examine Pope Francis "some months ago".
The article, under the headline 'The Pope is Sick', stated that the Argentine pontiff was diagnosed with "a small dark spot on the brain", but that it was curable without surgery.
"The circulation of entirely unfounded news regarding the health of the Holy Father by an Italian newspaper is gravely irresponsible and unworthy of attention," chief Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said in a statement.
"Furthermore, as is clearly evident, the pope is carrying out his very intense activity in a totally normal way."
A spokeswoman for the San Rossore clinic, from where the newspaper said the helicopter took off, said she could not comment on the report and said that all enquiries on the matter should be put to the director of the medical centre. The director's office said he was not available.
Since the start of the year, Pope Francis has kept up a busy schedule and made trips to Asia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Latin America, the United States, and a number of visits in Rome and Italy.
In a television interview last March on the second anniversary of his election, Francis said he believed his pontificate would be short and that he would be ready to resign like his predecessor Pope Benedict, rather than leading the Church for the rest of his life.
Pope Francis has appeared to be in good health in recent months apart from some leg pain due to sciatica, for which he undergoes regular physical therapy in the Vatican.
Francis lost part of one lung to disease when he was a young man.