A top Vatican official hinted this week that the increasingly frail Pope John Paul II might resign. The pope, who suffers from Parkinsons disease and was hospitalized with the flu last week, was too ill to preside over Ash Wednesday Mass, which marks the beginning of Lent. He has never before missed such a service. When asked if the pope would step down, Cardinal Angelo Sodano said only, Lets leave that hypothesis up to the popes conscience. Until now, the 84-year-old pontiff has always insisted that he would remain in office until his death.