Leading Japanese neurosurgeon Takanori Fukushima said on Friday he had never treated Pope Francis, denying an Italian media report that he had flown secretly to the Vatican and diagnosed the pontiff with a small but curable brain tumour.
"I only met him once and I doubt he remembers me," Fukushima told Italy's national news agency Ansa.
"So many falsehoods have been written," he said, speaking from his home in Raleigh, in the US state of North Carolina.
The Vatican indignantly denied as "unfounded" and "gravely irresponsible" Wednesday's report in the Quotidiano Nazionale daily that Francis was diagnosed in January with a a small but curable brain tumour after Fukushima found a 'dark spot'.
The diagnosis was made by Fukushima, who was collected by papal helicopter from a clinic near Pisa where he operates, and flown to visit the Pope at the Vatican City, the daily claimed.
The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano and Walter Kasper, a liberal cardinal closely in step with the Pope’s views, as well as some leading Vatican observers claimed the brain tumour rumour had been deliberately leaked by his enemies within the Catholic Church to discredit him.
Fukushima on Thursday removed two posts from his blog regarding two visits he said he made to the Vatican - one in January, which did not mention a meeting with Francis and an earlier one that contained a photo of Fukushima meeting Francis at a general audience in St Peter's Square on 1 October 2014.