As the five-year term for Pope Francis' personal doctor comes to an end, the Pope is expected to choose a new one soon who will accompany him during his upcoming visit to Cuba and the United States. Patrizio Polisca, doctor to Benedict XVI and president of the medical commission for the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints, was until recently the Pope’s personal doctor and head of the Vatican City State's healthcare services. Francis decided at the end of May not to renew Polisca's term as papal doctor and head of the Vatican’s healthcare services, leaving his position open as of Aug. 1. The Pope is expected to select a new doctor in September, before his visit to Cuba and the United States at the end of that month. Appointed as head of the Vatican's health care services in 2010, Polisca, a cardiologist, has been Benedict XVI's personal doctor since 2009. He will continue caring for the retired Pope, and will also maintain his post in the Congregation for the Cause of Saints. In comments to journalists July 27, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi laid to rest rumors circulating in Italian media that Francis had ousted the doctor from his position, and from the Vatican. “I want to clarify that Patrizio Polisca ended in July the five year term mandate as director of Health Care Services. A replacement must be considered customary according to the Regulation for the Lay Managers of the Holy See and of the Vatican City State,” the spokesman said. Fr. Lombardi also affirmed that Polisca will continue live within the Vatican City State. He remarked that the doctor “is very highly considered in the Vatican,” and the fact that he is still Benedict XVI’s personal doctor is of great importance. It's been customary since St. John Paul II's pontificate that the position as director of the Vatican City State’s healthcare facilities was tied to the post of the Pope’s personal doctor. However, it is likely Pope Francis will make a different decision, and that his new personal doctor will not be in charge of the Vatican healthcare system. Patrizio Polisca, born in 1953, has worked for the Vatican since the 1980s, starting as a summer medical guard in the Papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo. In 1994 he became one of the doctors of the Vatican medical corp, and in 1997 was asked by Dr. Renato Buzzonetti, St. John Paul II's personal doctor, to be a medical support during the Pope’s historic trip to Cuba in 1998. Since the 1998 trip to Cuba, Polisca served as a supporting medical doctor on every long trip St. John Paul II took, since the Pope's health was worsening each year. After Benedict XVI's election he continued to serve as a Vatican medical official. In 2009, Benedict XVI appointed him his personal doctor, and in 2010 Polisca had become the head of the Vatican health care. Polisca is also a member of the Vatican Security Committee. As president of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints medical commission, the doctor assists in examining cases of healings, and decides whether the healing is the result of a miracle or not.
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