Is Pope Francis Sicker Than We Know?

Italian media reports that the pontiff saw a brain-cancer specialist from Duke have Vatican watchers wondering more than ever about the health of His Holiness.

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican’s press machine kicked into high gear Wednesday to try to dispel rumors that Pope Francis has a small benign brain tumor that was discovered by a Japanese specialist several months ago at a private clinic near Pisa, Italy.

As reported by Tuscan newspaper Quotidiano Nazionale with the headline, “The Pope Is Sick,” Francis is said to have been whisked away by helicopter in the dark of the night last spring for a private checkup by Japanese oncologist Takanori Fukushima at the San Rossore clinic near Pisa.  Fukushima, 73, who is a professor at Duke University Medical Center and at West Virginia University Medical Center, sees some 600 patients a year as a specialist in brain cancer and aneurysms. The newspaper did not specify just why Fukushima would have been in Pisa to see the pontiff because he is not a practicing doctor in Italy.

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