BY VIVIANE HEWITT IN ROME
POPE JOHN PAUL 11 has refused to submit to medical examinations by an international panel of hand-picked consultants.
According to speculation by one Roman daily, the Vatican has been debating over the past week about subjecting John Paul II to the opinions of a panel of international consultants.
One lobby in the Holy See, including the Pope himself, is opposed to the very idea for two main reasons.
Firstly, it is said that the Pope has every faith in his own doctors. Secondly there are fears that a panel of international physicians might not be as discreet as the Italian team.
The latest development in the growing mystery over the Pope's health came just 24 hours before an announcement that John Paul would undergo a series of hospital tests at the end of this month.
He is expected to recover in Rome's Policlinico Gemelli Hospital, where he was treated in 1981 for gunshot wounds after the Saint Peter's Square attempt on his life by Turkish terrorist Mehmet Ali Agca.
The tests are designed to discover the origin of the Pope's repeated illness over the past few months, which appears to have been caused by an "intestinal infection".
He has appeared weak and tired and is in obvious pain on occasions. In addition, the continuing tremor in his hand and other symptoms have heightened speculation that, despite Vatican denials, he is suffering from Parkinson's Disease. Professor Francesco Crucitti, who has operated on the Pope twice before, will carry out the new tests John Paul's sixth recovery at the Gemelli Hospital since the assassination attempt.
A month ago he was taken ill at Castel Gandolfo, his summer residence in the Alban Hills about 20 miles south of Rome, and subjected to a CAT scan at the local hospital.