Pope John Paul II was "breathing for himself" on Friday 25 February after tracheotomy surgery at Policlinico Gemelli hospital in Rome, Vatican officials confirmed. The pontiff was re-admitted to the hospital on Thursday and had a tube inserted in his throat the same day, to ease severe breathing difficulties.

The 84-year-old pontiff spent 10 days at the same hospital earlier this month, with respiratory problems brought on by flu.

No more medical bulletins are expected until Monday.