Vatican denies pope brain-tumour report

Lombardi says story 'unfounded' and 'irresponsible'

(ANSA) - Rome, October 21 - The Vatican denied an Italian media report that Pope Francis has a small, treatable brain tumour on two separate occasions on Wednesday, stressing that the head of the Catholic Church is in "good health". In the first statement, Vatican Spokesman Father Federico Lombardi described the report in Quotidiano Nazionale (QN) as "totally unfounded... irresponsible and unworthy of attention". It continued: "as everyone can see, the pope is conducting his extremely intense activities without interruption in an absolutely normal way". QN said it expected the Vatican to deny the report and stood by its story.
    According to QN, Dr. Takanori Fukushima, a Japanese specialist, diagnosed Pope Francis as having a small dark spot on his brain that can be treated without surgery.
    It said the pope had gone to the San Rossore di Barbaricina clinic near Pisa to see Fukushima. The Vatican Press Office denied this, saying that "there has been no Vatican helicopter flight in Tuscany, except for inspections for the pope's trip to Prato and Florence on November 10".
    ANSA sources said that Fukushima, who sometimes works as a consultant for the San Rossore clinic, was in Italy in January and probably visited the Vatican. The sources said it was a helicopter that Fukushima was aboard that left from the San Rossore clinic late in January.
    On his own website,, Fukushima said Wednesday that he met the Argentine pontiff on October 1, 2014 after being invited to a special event in the Vatican. The doctor added that he also visited the Vatican on January 28, 2015, when he arrived in a helicopter from the San Rossore clinic near Pisa. On that occasion Fukushima slept in a convent near the Vatican and he said that he met several archbishops and Cardinal Angelo Comastri.
    This version appeared to contrast with what Lombardi's second denial on Wednesday.
    "The competent departments have confirmed to me that no helicopter flights arrived in the Vatican from the outside in the month of January," he said. "I completely confirm the denial that I have already given," Lombardi added. "I do so after speaking to the appropriate sources, including the Holy Father... "No Japanese doctor came to the Vatican to examine the pope and there have been no examinations of the type referred to in the article. "I can confirm that the pope is in good health".
    Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano said Wednesday the report was "false", adding that the "moment chosen" to raise this "hue and cry" showed that there was "manipulative intent" behind it. The Vatican is currently hosting a synod on the family that is seen as highly important for the Catholic Church. Pope Francis conducted his general audience in St Peter's Square as usual on Wednesday.
    During the audience, he called on the sick to follow the lead of John Paul II and "carry the cross of suffering with joy, as he taught us".
    The eve of the former pope's saint's day falls on Thursday.