By Sarah Mac Donald - 24 October, 2015
The editor of the Italian newspaper which on Thursday sensationally alleged that Pope Francis has a small brain tumour has denied claims that he is part of a conspiracy against the Pope.
Andrea Cangini of Quotidiano Nazionale on Friday said he would not reveal his sources but added “time will tell who was right”, a reference to his publication’s claims or the Vatican’s strongly worded denial of the story’s claims.
Meanwhile, the international Catholic weekly The Tablet is reporting a senior cardinal, who is known to be close to Pope Francis, as claiming that the brain tumour claim is intended to weaken Francis’ authority.
Speaking to The Tablet’s Elena Curti, Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay, a member of the Pope’s group of cardinal advisers known as the C9, said the story indicates that there are people who want to damage the Pope.
“It’s the first thought that came to me. Somebody is trying to weaken the Pope’s position and to indicate “Ok now that’s it, he is just here for a short time,” Cardinal Gracias said in his interview.
The cardinal suggested that the motivation behind the story could be to “put the brakes” on the Pope’s reforms.
“It has something to do with his popularity. What he is saying is just the Gospel so I can’t see why they are upset up about it,” he added.
On Thursday, the Vatican’s spokesman, Fr Frederico Lombardi denied a number of times the newspaper report that the Pope had been treated by a Japanese doctor for a small brain tumour in a medical centre just outside the Italian city of Pisa.
“I fully confirm my previous statement, having verified the facts with the appropriate sources, including the Holy Father,” said Fr Federico Lombardi.
The director of the press office continued, “No Japanese doctor has visited the Pope in the Vatican and there have been no examinations of the type indicated in the article.”
However, following Fr Lombardi’s original denial, Quotidiano Nazionale reported that the surgeon, Dr Takanori Fukushima of the San Rossore Treatment Centre in Pisa, visited the Vatican from 28 to 30 January, arriving by helicopter.
“The competent offices have confirmed that there have been no arrivals of external parties in the Vatican by helicopter; similarly, there were no arrivals of this type during the month of January,” Fr Lombardi stated.
“I am able to confirm that the Pope is in good health.”
Fr Lombardi added, “I reiterate that the publication of this false information is a grave act of irresponsibility, absolutely inexcusable and unconscionable. It would be equally unjustifiable to continue to fuel similarly unfounded information. It is hoped, therefore, that this matter be closed immediately.”
According to Catholic World News, Dr Fukushima removed from his own personal website photos of a purported meeting between the doctor and Pope Francis.
According to CWN those photos appeared to have been retouched.
Dr Fukushima himself has admitted that he only met the Pontiff briefly in the course of a public audience and never for a medical consultation or treatment.