Pope leaves hospital


ROME, Italy -- Looking drawn and pale, Pope John Paul II left the hospital and returned to the Vatican Friday, surrounded by heavy security because of a report that man who tried to kill Pope Paul VI was in Rome.

The pope's release from the Gemelli hospital, where he underwent two operations since being shot May 13, came a day after doctors declared him fully recovered.


The pontiff smiled and waved as he emerged from the hospital and walked unaided but slowly to his car. He looked pale and drawn and doctors said he had lost about seven pounds.

Doctors have ordered John Paul to continue to rest for the next six weeks and he is expected to go to the papal summer retreat at Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, Monday to complete his convalescence.

Security around the pope was increased because an anonymous telephone caller told Rome police on Thursday that he had seen Benjamin Mendoza, the Bolivian painter who disguised himself as a priest and attacked Pope Paul VI with a knife in Manila in 1970.

Police sources said that, although they suspected the call to be a hoax, they were taking no chances because Mendoza's present whereabouts were not known.


Before leaving the hospital, John Paul talked to all its patients through a public address system. In the lobby he embraced Dr. Francesco Crucitti, the surgeon who operated on him twice and is credited with saving his life.

'Please remember that above all you need rest,' Crucitti told the pope.

Crucitti said he ordered that John Paul stay on a low-liquid, high-protein diet and have 'absolute rest until the end of September.'

At the Vatican, John Paul entered St. Peter's Basilica by a side door and stopped to pray at the undergound grottoes that house the tombs of most modern-day popes.

'I even thought there could have been one more tomb but the most holy Madonna, on that 13th of May, the month dedicated to her, wanted otherwise,' John Paul told prelates who prayed with him there.

The pope then ascended to his private apartments and waved to a crowd of about 2,000 people from his window overlooking St. Peter's Square.

Although doctors advised him to avoid strenuous public appearances, John Paul plans to make an address from his window Saturday to commemorate the feast of the Assumption of the Madonna and to make his weekly address from the window at noon Sunday.


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