According to TIME:
THE Pope was just 10 minutes from death when he was rushed to hospital last week, a report has revealed.The Pope's condition was far graver than his spokesman let on, according to the US magazine Inside the Vatican due out this week. ... Inside the Vatican says the Pope was taken to the hospital's intensive care unit until his breathing spasms subsided - an action that also contradicted the account given by Vatican officials. "We got him by a breath," one medico tells the magazine. Another says: "If he had come in 10 minutes later he would have been gone."
Pope John Paul II appears to be recovering after being hospitalized last week with a respiratory infection, the result of a bout with the flu. But his latest health scare has revived a heavy question hovering over St. Peter's Square: Who is really running the show? Despite his physical frailties brought on by Parkinson's disease, his collaborators say John Paul, 84, is mentally alert and capable of making big calls on the direction of the Roman Catholic Church. But even the most steadfast Vatican loyalists concede that a substantial chunk of his workload has been delegated to top subordinates in Rome. A senior Vatican official told TIME, "Things that the Pope would have handled personally in the past are more and more being entrusted to aides." Some duties, such as signing major encyclicals and apostolic letters, cannot be handed off to others. But Vatican insiders say the Pope has now given the green light to the heads of dicasteries to handle their own business virtually without oversight. "He is still the head of the church," said a priest based in Rome. "But he's more of a figurehead. He's not making the day-to-day decisions anymore."