Religion: Half Alive

The Pope vs. his doctors

The Pope abdicate? During John Paul II's slow recovery from his shooting last summer, the rumor circulated in Europe that he was thinking of stepping down. That was hardly credible, but there is no doubt that he was a frustrated patient. So much so, TIME has learned, that at a critical juncture he stepped into the medical management of his case and overruled advice from a panel of his doctors.

On the day he was shot last May, surgeons performed a colostomy, temporarily rerouting the upper part of the large intestine to let the damaged lower part heal....