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 CNS Story:

POPE-STUMBLE May-12-2008 (220 words) xxxi

Pope stumbles briefly, rises to his feet during Pentecost Mass

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI stumbled briefly during a Pentecost Mass at the Vatican, but rose to his feet and went on with the 90-minute liturgy.

After censing the altar at the beginning of the Mass in St. Peter's Basilica May 11, the pope appeared to trip over the small platform that holds his chair directly in front of the altar.

He went down on both knees and leaned against the chair. Aides quickly helped him up and the pontiff appeared unshaken by the incident.

The Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, said afterward that the stumble was "a small incident of no consequence."

He noted that there was no reaction of alarm among the thousands of people present in the basilica.

"Anyone with an ounce of understanding could see that there was no reason for concern," Father Lombardi said.

The pope, 81, has looked alert and nimble during his events at the Vatican during his first three years in office. He routinely handles stairs without a problem.

Later in the day, addressing pilgrims from his apartment window, the pope smiled about a technical glitch that kept his microphone from working.

When it finally came on, he told the waiting crowd: "Finally we have a voice."

END


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