In a statement on Wednesday, Vatican spokesperson Rev. Federico Lombardi called the Italian report as “gravely irresponsible and unworthy of attention.”
The article sources unnamed eyewitnesses that saw a helicopter with markings resembling the Vatican flag land on the helipad of San Rossore private clinic in Pisa, Italy.
Neurosurgeon Takanori Fukushima then reportedly emerged and boarded the helicopter which, according to the article, was headed to Rome.
The article then claims that Fukushima had found a dark spot of the Pontiff’s brain but that it would not need surgery.
Since publication, the Vatican and Fukushima both denied the reports of a brain tumour.
Rev. Lombardi stated that no Japanese doctor visited the pope in the Vatican and that there were no “arrivals of external parties in the Vatican by helicopter.”
He also said that the publication of the report was “absolutely inexcusable and unconscionable.”
However, Quotidiano Nazionale editor Andrea Cangini defended the article, saying there is “documentary proof” and that they based some of their report on members of a medical team, The New York Times reports.
Quotidiano Nazionale also published an article countering the Vatican’s and Fukushima’s latest statements.
Some at the Vatican see this report as an attempt to destabilize the pope as a three week meeting with 270 senior church officials to discuss marriage, divorce, homosexuality among other thing topics.
The pope’s openness policy has come under stark scrutiny from certain members of the Catholic Church and 13 bishops signed a letter addressed to the pope with a list of their concerns about the talking points outlined for the synod.
According to Reuters, the Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, quoted Argentine Bishop Victor Manuel Fernandez, as saying he feared the reports about his health were part of a well-planned “apocalyptic strategy” against Pope Francis by conservatives who want to undermine his power as he tries to lead the church onto a more modern path.
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