Susan Walsh/AP
October 21, 2015 11:00 AM

The Vatican denied a report that Pope Francis has a brain tumor on Wednesday, saying the 78-year-old pontiff is in “good health.”

“If you had to run after him during his overseas trips, you’d know,” Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told the press Wednesday.

Quotidiano Nazionale, the Italian newspaper that ran the report Wednesday – under the headline “The Pope Is Sick” – said it stood by its story that Japanese neurosurgeon Takanori Fukushima had secretly flown to the Vatican to examine the pope “some months ago,” when he discovered a “small dark spot” on Francis’ brain that could reportedly be cured without surgery.

But, in its third denial on the matter, the Vatican called the article “a grave act of irresponsibility, absolutely inexcusable and unconscionable.”

“I am able to confirm that the pope is in good health,” Lombardi told hundreds of journalists at a Vatican press briefing Wednesday, according to Reuters.

“I can confirm that no Japanese doctor came to the Vatican to see the pope and there were no examinations of the type indicated in the article,” he said, adding that he had confirmed this information with Pope Francis himself.

Lori Radcliffe, practice administrator for Fukushima at the Carolina Neuroscience Institute in Raleigh, North Carolina, also declared the report “absolutely false,” telling Reuters the doctor did meet the pope at a general audience at the Vatican this year, but never examined or treated him.

Meanwhile, everything appears to be business as usual for Francis, who on Wednesday held his weekly general audience before tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square.

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