Pope Broke Right Arm 7th Day After meetin Obama

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Pope breaks wrist, has surgery, leaves smiling
Jul 17 11:31 AM US/Eastern
Associated Press Writers
AOSTA, Italy (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI emerged smiling from the hospital Friday after undergoing surgery for a broken wrist due to a fall at his Alpine vacation chalet.

Doctors said his right arm would be in a cast for a month.

A Vatican statement said the 82-year-old pope fell in his room overnight and despite the accident celebrated Mass and had breakfast in the morning before going to the hospital.

After an X-ray showed the fracture, surgeons performed a successful, 20-minute operation under local anesthesia on the right wrist, said Dr. Pierluigi Berti, the director of the Umberto Parini hospital in Aosta.

The surgery was to reduce the fracture, a procedure to realign the broken bone fragments.

The German-born pontiff left the hospital about six hours after arriving, smiling and waving with his left arm as he climbed into his car. His right arm hung straight by his side, the cast hidden by his white vestments.

At one point he pointed to the cast, as if to explain why he wasn't waving with his right hand.
Berti said the pope was in high spirits and stressed that the fall had been accidental and was not the result of any health condition.

He said the cast will be removed in a month.

Dr. Amedeo Mancini, the orthopedic surgeon who performed Friday's operation, said the pope would suffer no long-term effects from the fracture and would be able to write and play the piano once his wrist heals.

"It was a special patient for a routine operation," Mancini said, adding that Benedict was an excellent patient and readily agreed to the surgery.

Dr. Patrizio Polisca, the pope's personal physician who was at the hospital with him, said in a statement that Benedict's general health was good and he was fit to return to the chalet in the mountains near Aosta.

Despite his age and a history of serious medical problems, Benedict has been remarkably healthy during his four-year pontificate, keeping to a busy schedule and traveling around the world.

In fact, until Friday's surgery, there have been no reported medical problems since he assumed the papacy in 2005.
The most serious issue in his medical record was a hemorrhagic stroke he acknowledged suffering in 1991 that temporarily affected his vision, as well as a fall that knocked him unconscious in 1992. Benedict has said he recovered without permanent damage from either incident.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said earlier Friday that Benedict had slipped in his room at the chalet and was hurt, but that it did not seem serious.

The ANSA news agency reported that Benedict arrived at the hospital by car and walked into the first aid ward with his personal secretary, Monsignor Georg Ganswein.

Vatican security and Italian police stood on guard outside the hospital, where a small crowd of onlookers gathered.

Benedict has been vacationing in the village of Les Combes in the Valle d'Aosta region near the French border since Monday.

He is scheduled to remain until July 29, with two scheduled public appearances in northwestern Italy to deliver his traditional Angelus prayer on Sundays.

He was expected to stick to his schedule despite the accident, Vatican aides said.
One pleasure that he is sure to be denied at least in the near term is playing the piano.

The pope is a classical music lover and enjoys playing the instrument while on vacation.

With a cast, he may also find it difficult to write, sign documents or bless crowds.

In addition, the pontiff had to take off his ringâ€"the large gold Fisherman's ring that signifies his papal authority.

The pontiff usually wears it on his right ring finger; as he left the hospital, the ring was visible on his left ring finger.

The ring, which features the figure of St. Peter casting his net from a fisherman's boat, is traditionally kissed by the faithful when they meet the pontiff in a sign of respect.

"We'll see in the next few days how he is able to carry out his functions," Lombardi said. "Surely some things will change" in terms of how he blesses crowds and celebrates Mass, he said.
Benedict, who turned 82 in April, told German media in 2006 that "I've never felt strong enough to plan many long trips."
Since then, however, he has traveled to Australia, the United States, Brazil and most recently to two sub-Saharan African countries among his 12 foreign pilgrimages.

While looking tired at times, he has always bounced back.
Benedict has spent two summers at Les Combes in recent years.

He said upon arrival that he expected to rest and work during his vacation.

His predecessor, Pope John Paul II, also spent several summers at Les Combes.

While John Paul liked to hike, Benedict spends most of his time inside the chalet that looks out on Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps.
Among adults over 65, falls are the leading cause of deaths caused by injuries.

The risk of falling increases significantly with age, as older people typically have more problems with eyesight, movement and balance.

Older people are also at increased risk of osteoporosis, a condition which weakens the bones and makes them easier to breakâ€"making falls more dangerous.

Bruno reported from Aosta and David from the Vatican.

AP reporters Chiara Sottile in Rome and Victor Simpson at the Vatican also contributed to this report.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Last Updated: 1:28 PM, July 10, 2009
Posted: 10:38 AM, July 10, 2009
VATICAN CITY -- President Barack Obama sat down with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on Friday for a meeting in which frank but constructive talks were expected between two men who agree on helping the poor but disagree on abortion and stem cell research.

PHOTOS: OBAMAS MEET THE POPE "It's a great honor," Obama said as he greeted the pope, thanking him for this first meeting.

They sat down at the pontiff's desk and exchanged pleasantries before reporters and photographers were ushered out of the ornate room.
The pope was heard asking about the Group of Eight summit, the meeting of developed nations that concluded before Obama's arrival at Vatican City. Obama said it "was very productive."
The pope and Obama met for half an hour, and then were joined by first lady Michelle Obama.

Upon leaving, Obama again thanked the pope. "We look forward to a very strong relationship between our two countries," he said.
There was no immediate word on what was discussed in the meeting.

With some Catholic activists and American bishops outspoken in their criticism of Obama, even as polls have shown he received a majority of Catholic votes, the audience was much awaited.

Obama is very popular in Italy and several hundred people lining the broad avenue leading to St. Peter's Square cheered his limousine as it went by. Obama waved.

Awaiting him at the Vatican was an honor guard of Swiss Guards in their colorful, striped uniforms.

Obama's election presented a challenge for the Vatican after eight years of common ground with President George W. Bush in opposing abortion, an issue that drew them together despite Vatican opposition to the war in Iraq.
But the Vatican has been openly interested in Obama's views and scheduled an unusual afternoon meeting to accommodate him at the end of his Italian stay for a G-8 summit meeting in the earthquake-stricken city of L'Aquila and just before he leaves for Ghana.

In the tradition-conscious Vatican, most such meetings are held at midday.

The Vatican also arranged live TV coverage of the open session of the meeting after their private talks.

"I think there will be frank discussion," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said earlier this week. "I think that there's a lot that they agree on that they'll get a chance to discuss."
"We know the pope has been keenly aware of the president's outreach to the Muslim world.

The pope shares the president's view on reducing the number of nuclear weapons.

So I think there's certainly a lot of common ground."
Benedict broke Vatican protocol the day after Obama was elected by sending a personal note of congratulations rather than waiting and sending the usual brief telegram on Inauguration Day.
"I've had a wonderful conversation with the pope over the phone right after the election," Obama told a group of Catholic journalists in Washington before he left for Europe.

"And in some ways we see this as a meeting with any other government -- the government of the Holy See. There are going to be some areas where we've got deep agreements; there are going to be some areas where we've got some disagreements."
But he acknowledged the pope is more than a government head, saying the church "has such profound influence worldwide and in our country."
L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's daily newspaper, gave Obama a positive review after his first 100 days in office.

In a front-page editorial, it said that even on ethical questions Obama hadn't confirmed the "radical" direction he discussed during the campaign.

Tensions grew when Obama was invited to receive an honorary degree at the leading U.S. Catholic University, Notre Dame. Dozens of U.S. bishops denounced the university and the local bishop boycotted the ceremony.

Former St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke, who now heads a Vatican tribunal, accused Obama of pursuing anti-life and antifamily agendas.

He called it a "scandal" that Notre Dame had invited him to speak.

Yet L'Osservatore concluded that Obama was looking for some common ground with his speech, noting he asked Americans to work together to reduce the number of abortions.

Some conservative American Catholics criticized the Vatican newspaper for its accommodating stance.

This week, Cardinal Justin Rigali, who heads the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, complained that the final guidelines of the National Institutes of Health for human embryonic stem cell research are broader than the draft guidelines.

As a child in Indonesia, Obama's Muslim father enrolled him in Catholic school for a few years.

Obama is a Protestant.

White House national security aide Denis McDonough, speaking to reporters Thursday on the influence of Catholic social teaching on Obama, said the president "expresses many things that many Catholics recognize as fundamental to our teaching."
Obama "often refers to the fundamental belief that each person is endowed with dignity ...

The dignity of people is a driving goal in what we hope to accomplish in development policy, for example, and in foreign policy," McDonough said.
In the interview with Catholic journalists, Obama said he would tell the pope of his concern that the world financial crisis is not "borne disproportionally by the most poor and vulnerable countries."
Just this week, Benedict issued a major document calling for a new world financial order guided by ethics and the search for the common good, denouncing the profit-at-all-cost mentality blamed for bringing about the global financial meltdown.

As Obama has pledged to step-up efforts for Middle East peace through a two-state solution, Benedict made a similar appeal during a trip in May to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories.

He issued the Vatican's strongest call yet for a Palestinian state.

Obama met first with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican's secretary of state, before meeting Benedict in the pope's study.

Obama's wife, Michelle, joined him at the end of the meeting, and gifts were exchanged.

Daughters Malia and Sasha, who accompanied their parents on the weeklong trip, also were at the Vatican.

Several senior White House staff members also met Benedict, with some either shaking his hand or kissing his ring.

Lavaud Hold Desmoulins, October 16 2009, 6:32 PM

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