Pope visits Cardinal Etchegaray in hospital

ROME — Pope Benedict went to Rome’s Gemelli hospital this evening to visit French Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, who was injured when a woman rushed the pope at the start of his Christmas Eve liturgy in St. Peter’s.

Cardinal Roger Etchegaray in a 2006 file photo at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in Harissa, Lebanon. (CNS photo)

The pope chatted for a half-hour with the 87-year-old cardinal, who underwent hip replacement surgery after the incident. The Vatican said the cardinal was able to walk the pope to the door of his hospital room at the end of the visit.

The two spoke in French, and the pope asked about the recovery and rehabilitation program the cardinal is undergoing. The Vatican said Cardinal Etchegaray’s condition is very good, and he is expected to leave the hospital sometime next week.

Susanna Maiolo, 25, jumped a security barrier at the start of the Dec. 24 liturgy as Pope Benedict processed into St. Peter’s Basilica. Although Vatican guards tackled her, she was able to grab the pope’s vestments, causing him to lose his balance and tumble to the floor. He was apparently unharmed, but Cardinal Etchegaray suffered a broken hip when he fell in the confusion.

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