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Vatican source: Pope given last rites
Ailing pontiff suffers from high fever with urinary tract infection
VATICAN CITY (CNN) -- Pope John Paul II was given the last rites of the Roman Catholic Church late Thursday night as his health deteriorated, a Vatican source has told CNN.
The sacrament does not necessarily mean that the pope is dying. Last rites -- also known as the sacrament of anointing the sick -- are commonly given to people who are seriously ill as well. The pope received the sacrament after he was shot by a would-be assassin in 1981.
The pope is suffering from a high fever caused by a urinary tract infection, the Vatican confirmed earlier Thursday -- one day after revealing he had been put on a nasal feeding tube for nutrition.
The pope is taking antibiotics, a Vatican spokesman said.
Medical sources at Gemelli Hospital in Rome, where the pope has been hospitalized twice since February, told CNN that no provisions are being made for the pope to be readmitted for treatment.
Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said in a statement released Wednesday: "To improve his calorific intake and promote an efficient recovery of his strength, nutrition via the positioning of a nasal-gastric tube has begun."
The pope underwent a tracheotomy February 24 and still has a tube inserted in his windpipe to help his breathing.
Earlier Wednesday, the pope appeared at his studio window and blessed the thousands of faithful in St. Peter's Square.
He appeared alert during the four-minute appearance, which drew cheers from the crowd gathered beneath his window.
He raised his hand in blessing and made the sign of the cross as a Vatican official read greetings and prayers.
A microphone was raised to his face as he tried to speak, but the words were not clear.
The pope has spent a total of 28 days in two stints at Gemelli hospital in Rome in the past two months.
Nicola Cerbino, a spokesman at the hospital, said Wednesday that there was no plan to hospitalize the pope.
On Monday the pope skipped the post-Easter Angelus prayer for the first time in his 26-year papacy.
The 84-year-old pope suffers from a number of chronic illnesses, including crippling hip and knee ailments, and Parkinson's disease, a progressive neurological disorder that can make breathing difficult.
Throughout his various illnesses and brushes with death, even after the assassination attempt, the pope always said his life was in God's hands.
CNN's Alessio Vinci contributed to this report.
Copyright 2005 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.
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