Pope Paul developed a fever during the night and had to stay away from important ceremonies today (Sunday) at which he was to have canonised a new Saint and closed the Roman Catholic Church's first Synod of Bishops.
Crowd in St Peter's Square pray for Pope; Synod o Bishops ends; Pope Paul with Patriarch Athenagoras; exchange of girts.
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Background: Pope Paul developed a fever during the night and had to stay away from important ceremonies today (Sunday) at which he was to have canonised a new Saint and closed the Roman Catholic Church's first Synod of Bishops.
Yesterday, the Pope and Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras ended their historic three-day meeting with a call for peace between their churches.
The Vatican announced today that the 70-year-old Pontiff was confined to his apartment by his doctor after becoming feverish during the night. The statement said the Pope only had a slight fever and an operation was not imminent.
The Pope's health, uncertain since he was stricken by a bladder and kidney ailment on September 4th, had apparently suffered from the strain of the recent heavy engagements, including the visit by Patriarch Athenagoras.
His confinement was announced only minutes before the start of ceremonies at St Peter's Basilica, attended by nearly 200 Synod Bishops and thousands of pilgrims.
About 20,000 pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square, hoping he would appear at his window and prayed for him after they were told he would not make his usual Sunday appearance.
In a joint communique issued yesterday, Pope Paul and Patriarch Athenagoras said many obstacles remained to be overcome before full communion could be restored after the nine century-old schism between Roman Catholic and Orthodox believers. Athenagoras is the first leading Eastern Orthodox patriarch to visit Rome for more than 500 years.