Weary pope uses mobile platform for first time
VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI made use of the same mobile platform used by his long-ailing predecessor John Paul II for the first time on Sunday, with the Vatican saying it was to “ease his tiredness.”
The 84-year-old pope used the wheeled platform to make his way from the sacristy to the altar of St Peter’s Basilica for a Sunday mass in honour of global evangelisation. It was pushed by a group of special Vatican porters.
Starting in December 1999, John Paul II who was 79 at the time and suffering from Parkison’s disease began making use of the platform in the basilica.
Vatican spokesman said there was “no illness or diagnosis” behind the use of the platform, adding that it would simply “ease his tiredness” as well as increase the pope’s security, religious news agency i.media reported.
Benedict was shoved by a young mentally disturbed woman during his procession in the basilica on Christmas Eve 2009.
Since August, the pope has appeared particularly unsteady on his feet.
Some commentators had speculated that Benedict could make use of the traditional portable throne — known as a sedia gestatoria — on which popes were carried by porters until 1978 before the election of John Paul II.