THE spokesman for the Vatican has called a newspaper report that Pope Francis has “a small dark spot on the brain” as unfounded.
According to the Vatican Radio, Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, issued the denial after an Italian newspaper reported that Pope Francis had sought treatment for a tumor.
Lombardi said Pope Francis was carrying out his activities as usual and the spread of unfounded rumors was “extremely irresponsible and not worthy of attention.”
The report came from the Quotidiano Nazionale newspaper.
“Also, as all can see, the Pope continues to exercise his intense activity without interruption and in an absolutely normal way,” Lombardi’s statement said.
In the report on its front page on Wednesday, the newspaper said the 78-year-old pontiff was taken to a clinic near Pisa in Tuscany in Italy to see a Japanese doctor named Takanori Fukushima “some time ago,” who determined a small dark spot on the Pope’s brain could be cured without surgery.
The Vatican on Wednesday dismissed an Italian media report that Pope Francis has a treatable brain tumour as “unfounded and seriously irresponsible.”
Quotidiano Nazionale (QN), the newspaper which made the claim, said it stood by its story that a “small dark spot” had been detected on the 78-year-old pontiff’s brain earlier this year.
The paper said it was discovered by Japanese physician Takanori Fukushima during an examination at the San Rossore di Barbaricina clinic near Pisa in central Italy.
The professor reportedly concluded that the tumor was treatable and that no surgery was required.
Andrea Cangini, the director of Quotidiano, said he had expected the Vatican’s statement.
“This denial is understandable and expected,” he said. “We waited a long time before publishing the report in order to carry out every possible check. We don’t have the slightest doubt that it is founded.”
Pope Francis has maintained an intense work schedule throughout his two and a half years in the Vatican, eschewing the long summer breaks enjoyed by many of his predecessors.
He has looked extremely weary at times and in several interviews he has made reference, sometimes light-heartedly, to an apparent belief that he only has a few years to live.
The Argentinian nearly died as a young man after contracting an infection which resulted in the removal of part of his right lung.