Karl Cardinal Lehmann Karl Cardinal Lehmann
Bishop of Mainz, Germany
Cardinal Priest of San Leone I
May 16, 1936
Feb 21, 2001
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English Respect for Ailing Pope's Privacy
Nov 05, 2004
Cardinal Lehmann called Friday for respect for the privacy of Pope John Paul II amid a flurry of media reports that the 83-year-old pontiff was nearing death.

(Reuters, Oct 3 2004) Vilnius, Lithuania - "The pope has the same right to discretion as every sick or old person has," Cardinal Karl Lehmann, head of Germany's Catholic Bishops Conference, told Reuters. "And when the media does not respect his privacy, it has to be defended even more."

Cardinal Lehmann said he doubted the accuracy of reports in which other top churchmen were said to be ringing alarm bells about the state of the pope's health.

"I have had problems with the press myself, on occasion," he noted. "Besides, the pope's appearance is always changing. Most recently we heard the pope was quite good, full of energy. You cannot take one image and draw any conclusions."

Pope John Paul II, who suffers from Parkinson's disease and can no longer walk without help, has appeared weaker in recent public appearances and has struggled to speak at times.

"It is impressive how on the one hand the pope is weak and ill but on the other he is still alive spiritually and mentally. He still has his responsibilities fully in hand," Lehmann said.

"We must have respect for other people's life, and also respect God, the one who gives and maintains life," Lehmann said. "This pope has always made the surprise of living longer than many people would have thought."

Lehmann spoke on the sidelines of a gathering of European bishops in the Lithuanian capital.
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