Pope Fran­cis, at 80, looks to ‘fruit­ful and joy­ous’ old age

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

ROME: Pope Fran­cis voiced hope for a “fruit­ful and joy­ous” old age at a mass for his 80th birthday yes­ter­day, as he re­ceived mes­sages of con­grat­u­la­tions from around the world. “Old age sounds ugly, and causes fear. But old age yearns for wis­dom,” he told dozens of car­di­nals at the mass in a pa­pal chapel in Rome. “Old age is quiet and reli­gious, but also fruit­ful. Pray that mine will be that way, quiet and reli­gious, fruit­ful and also joy­ous.” The Ar­gen­tine pope re­ceived mes­sages of con­grat­u­la­tions from around the world for his 80th birthday, in­clud­ing at email ad­dresses in eight lan­guages spe­cially set up by the Vat­i­can.

“Italy is grate­ful to you for your con­stant close­ness,” said one from Ital­ian Pres­i­dent Ser­gio Mattarella. “The pope’s of­fice is cov­ered in draw­ings by chil­dren from the whole world cel­e­brat­ing his birthday,” tweeted An­to­nio Spadaro, a Je­suit the­olo­gian close to the pon­tiff. Spadaro re­leased pho­to­graphs of draw­ings show­ing a smil­ing pope with the world on his head or sur­rounded by chil­dren and party bal­loons. But like al­most ev­ery other day of his pa­pacy, Satur­day will be a work­ing day for the hol­i­day-pho­bic Fran­cis.

Apart from the morn­ing mass with the car­di­nals, he has meet­ings with Mal­tese Pres­i­dent Marie-Louise Coleiro, sev­eral prelates and mem­bers of the No­madelfia, a sec­u­lar com­mu­nity that tries to live as the early Chris­tians. In re­cent years, the pope has marked his birthday by dis­tribut­ing hun­dreds of sleep­ing bags to home­less peo­ple in Rome or by send­ing food to a mi­grant shel­ter. Born into a fam­ily of Ital­ian her­itage on De­cem­ber 16, 1936, Jorge Ber­goglio be­came the 266th pope when he was elected on March 13, 2013.This will be the fourth birthday the former bishop of Buenos Aires has cel­e­brated in the mod­est St Martha’s board­ing house he has made his home in­side the Vat­i­can’s walls.

He has shown no sign of slow­ing down in his drive to re­shape the Catholic Church to re­flect his own vi­sion of com­pas­sion and hu­mil­ity. The first pope from the Amer­i­cas con­tin­ues to set a re­lent­less pace as he reaches a mile­stone at which car­di­nals are ush­ered into semi-re­tire­ment. There are signs of fa­tigue, nat­u­ral for a man of his age who lost part of a lung in his youth, and the oc­ca­sional gri­mace bears wit­ness to the sci­atic pain that is a near con­stant com­pan­ion. He has not ruled out fol­low­ing the his­toric ex­am­ple of his pre­de­ces­sor Bene­dict XVI, who re­tired, ex­hausted, in 2013, al­though there is no sug­ges­tion that could hap­pen soon.

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