Pope John Paul II has been taken to the hospital, the Vatican tells CNN.
The ailing 84-year-old pontiff is suffering from an acute infection of the respiratory tract, Reuters reports. He fell ill with the flu on Sunday and was forced to cancel all his engagements over the past two days.
Italian television said the Polish-born pontiff, who has Parkinson’s disease and crippling knee and hip ailments, was taken to Rome’s Gemelli hospital, where he has been treated in the past.
On Monday, papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls downplayed the Pope’s illness saying: “He has joined the more than a million Italians who have come down with the flu.” However, that day the Pope backed out of a planned presentation of the Vatican’s yearbook, a duty that Navarro-Valls said was turned over to him.
The last time the pope skipped an audience for illness was in September 2003 because of an intestinal ailment.