Vatican denies report that Pope Francis has brain tumor

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(File photo)

(CNN) — The Vatican is forcefully denying a report in an Italian newspaper on Wednesday (October 21) that Pope Francis is ill with a brain tumor.

The Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, said Wednesday that he had personally spoken to the Pope who "is in good health."

Lombardi called the Italian article "inexcusable and unconscionable."

In a front page story published on Wednesday, the Italian daily Quotidiano Nazionale claimed that a Japanese neurosurgeon had flown by helicopter "some months ago" from a private clinic in Pisa to the Vatican to examine the Pope and determined that he had a "small brain tumor, which can be cured without surgery."

The article identifies the surgeon as Dr. Takanori Fukushima, a neurosurgeon at Duke University who is also a consultant at San Rossore di Barbaricina clinic near Pisa, Italy.

Fukushima could not be immediately reached for comment.

"No Japanese doctor has visited the Pope in the Vatican and there have been no examinations of the type indicated in the article," said Lombardi.

The Quotidiano Nazionale claims that Fukushima traveled from Pisa to Rome on a Vatican helicopter.

Pictures from Fukushima's blog show him in a helicopter and claim he was on his way from Pisa to the Vatican in January 2015.

But Lombardi said, "There have been no arrivals of external parties in the Vatican by helicopter; similarly there were no arrivals of this type during the month of January."

Pope Francis is known to have experienced leg pain due to sciatica, for which he undergoes physical therapy at the Vatican. He also had part of one lung removed when he was a young man.

The Italian report comes at a tumultuous time for the Vatican, where some 270 bishops are meeting through Sunday (October 25) to debate changes to church practices regarding modern families. A number of traditional bishops have criticized both the Pope and the process of the meeting, called a synod, arguing that church teachings on marriage and family life cannot and should not change.

The bishops will submit a final report to Pope Francis on Saturday (October 24).

CNN's Daniel Burke contributed to this story.

This story was first published on CNN.com, "Vatican denies report that Pope has brain tumor."