- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 19, 2007

BALTIMORE — Cardinal William H. Keeler underwent surgery yesterday to remove fluid from his brain, thought to have accumulated as a result of a car accident in Italy last year.

Cardinal Keeler, 76, suffered a head injury in the crash and has had trouble walking for several months, a symptom of the condition, said Sean Caine, a spokesman for the archdiocese.

Auxiliary Bishop W. Francis Malooly asked parishioners at a noon Mass to pray for Cardinal Keeler, noting that the cardinal was in “great spirits.”

Cardinal Keeler was confident that following surgery “he will be able to move better and was very much looking forward to that,” Bishop Malooly told parishioners.

Doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital inserted a tube into the cardinal’s brain to allow the fluid to drain into his abdomen, Mr. Caine said.

The surgery, conducted by renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, went smoothly and the “cardinal is doing fine,” said Gary Stephenson, a hospital spokesman.

Bishop Malooly said at a press conference after the surgery that Cardinal Keeler was “awake and a little groggy, but he’s in good form.”

The cardinal was expected to spend three days recovering in the hospital before beginning rehabilitation and hopes to attend the ordination of four priests Saturday.

The surgery began at 12:30 p.m. and ended about 2 p.m. The cardinal was never in discomfort before the surgery but was having problems getting around some days.

While he didn’t have problems every day, “other days it would almost be hard getting started,” Bishop Malooly said.

He said the condition has not affected Cardinal Keeler’s reasoning and he didn’t think the surgery would affect the Vatican’s decision on when the cardinal should retire.

Cardinal Keeler, who has served as archbishop for nearly two decades, submitted his resignation to the Vatican last year when he turned 75, as required by the church.

He has not been told by the Vatican when the resignation will take effect.

Last month, Cardinal Keeler said he planned to remain in Baltimore as head of the Basilica Historic Trust after his successor is named by the pope. He has overseen the restoration of the historic church.

Lauri Przybysz, who works for the archdiocese, said she frequently attends noon Mass at the Basilica of the Assumption, but made a point to go yesterday because of Keeler’s surgery.

“Everybody’s worried about the cardinal,” she said.

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