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Vatican denies Pope Francis has brain tumor

By Shawn Price
Vatican denies Pope Francis has brain tumor
The Vatican slammed an Italian newspaper Wednesday for falsely claiming Pope Francis is ill with a brain tumor. Photo by Stefano Spaziani/UPI | License Photo

VATICAN CITY, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- The Vatican slammed an Italian newspaper Wednesday for falsely reporting Pope Francis is ill with a brain tumor.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi, who had personally spoken to the Pope, described him as being in good health and declared the article in Quotidiano Nazionale "inexcusable and unconscionable."

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The newspaper reported that a Japanese neurosurgeon and his team flew from a clinic in Pisa, Italy, to the Vatican via the Vatican's helicopter to examine the Pope several months ago. The newspaper cited an anonymous nurse from the clinic who said tests found a small brain tumor, which could be cured without surgery.

"The news of the pope's health condition is totally unfounded, it is a totally irresponsible act of the Italian news agency that released this," said the Rev. Thomas Rosica, another spokesman for the Vatican.

Lombardi ridiculed the story described in the newspaper.

"No doctor came to the Vatican, unless he was a ghost, because no one saw him," Lombardi said. "No Japanese doctor has visited the Pope in the Vatican and there have been no examinations of the type indicated in the article."

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The newspaper reported the neurosurgeon to be Dr. Takanori Fukushima, of Duke University and a consultant at the San Rossore di Barbaricina clinic near Pisa.

Fukushima told CNN, "I have never medically examined the Pope. These stories are completely false."

The Vatican spokesmen said other than sciatica in his legs, the 78-year-old Pope's recent trips to the United States and Cuba show he is in fine health.

The newspaper is standing by its report though, saying staff confirmed the story months ago and deliberated for a long time before deciding to publish it.

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