Vatican: Pope has fever; condition 'very serious'
Statement says John Paul II 'responds correctly' to people around him
Vatican says pope has "cardiocirculatory collapse."
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VATICAN CITY (CNN) -- Pope John Paul II has developed a high fever and remains in a very serious condition, but is responding to his aides, the Vatican announced Saturday evening.
The three-sentence statement said the pope developed the fever late Saturday morning.
"When addressed by members of his household, he responds correctly," the statement said.
Earlier Saturday, the Vatican had acknowledged that the pope has slipped in and out of consciousness.
"There has been an initial compromise in the state of consciousness, but we cannot speak of a coma," said spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls, noting that a particularly "difficult compromising moment" happened around dawn.
"His eyes are open," he said. "Sometimes he looks like he's resting with his eyes closed. So when he opens his eyes, when he's spoken to, and I'm not talking medically however, there is no talk of coma."
Navarro-Valls said the pope's general and cardiorespiratory conditions "are the same" since Friday's statement that the pope's blood pressure had weakened and his kidneys were failing.
Navarro-Valls spoke and answered questions as Roman Catholic faithful stood vigil in St. Peter's Square and millions prayed across the world for the 84-year-old pontiff.
He reconstructed a sentence of "interrupted words pronounced by the Holy Father" Saturday morning, which he suggested were spoken as the ailing pope thought about the young people gathered in St. Peter's Square overnight.
On Friday night, the pope -- quoted by Navarro-Valls -- said: "I have looked for you. Now you have come to me. And I thank you."
The governor of Vatican City visited with the pope Friday night.
"He was in bed. He was propped up. There were three doctors alongside of him, helping him, giving him help with breathing and so on," Cardinal Edmund Szoka said.
"The pope was completely conscious and completely alert. He couldn't speak, but when he saw me, with his eyes and bowing his head, I knew he immediately recognized me and was trying to greet me.
"So I knelt down alongside of him by the bed, and I kissed his hand and held his hand, and I told him in Polish that I had offered Mass for him and that I was praying for him."
Other visitors Friday included the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano.
The pope's condition began deteriorating rapidly Thursday, after a urinary tract infection caused a high fever, leading to septic shock and collapse of his cardiocirculatory system.
He was administered the sacrament of anointing the sick, formerly known as last rites or extreme unction, Thursday night.
Despite his precarious health, Navarro-Valls said, the pope wished to remain in his residence at the Vatican, rather than returning to Gemelli hospital in Rome, where he has been hospitalized twice since February.
A Mass was celebrated in the pope's presence at 7:30 a.m. (12:30 a.m. EST) Saturday, Navarro-Valls said.
The pope suffers from crippling hip and knee ailments and Parkinson's disease, a progressive neurological disorder that can make breathing and swallowing difficult.
On February 24, doctors performed a tracheotomy to help him breathe, as he struggled to recover from a bout of flu that hospitalized him.
A feeding tube was put down his nose into his stomach Wednesday to provide additional nutrition.
The feeding tube was inserted shortly after the pope's regular weekly audience, where he appeared at the window of his study overlooking St. Peter's Square for about four minutes.
Unable to speak, he used hand gestures to bless thousands of people who gathered for a glimpse of him.
On Easter, the pope also tried to speak to the crowds but could not get out the words. Ill health forced him to miss several events during Holy Week preceding Easter.
Friday, the Vatican press office issued a list of 17 new papal appointments, including bishops and archbishops, and announced that John Paul had accepted the resignations of six archbishops.
The appointments and resignations were believed to have been previously approved by the pope.
CNN's John Allen, Christiane Amanpour, Jim Bittermann, Chris Burns, Miguel Marquez, Walter Rodgers and Alessio Vinci contributed to this report.