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 CNS Story:

FRANCIS-BENEDICT Apr-16-2013 (210 words) xxxi

Pope Francis wishes Pope Benedict happy birthday

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis offered his early morning Mass as a prayer for Pope Benedict XVI on the retired pontiff's birthday, then phoned his predecessor later to personally convey his best wishes for his 86th birthday.

According to the Vatican, Pope Francis began his Mass April 16 by reminding Vatican employees: "Today is the birthday of Benedict XVI. Let us offer Mass for him, that the Lord might be with him, comfort him, and give him much consolation."

Later in the day, Pope Francis telephoned Pope Benedict at the papal summer villa in Castel Gandolfo, where the retired pope has been staying since stepping down Feb. 28. The Vatican said Pope Francis also conveyed his greetings and best wishes to Pope Benedict's brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, who traveled from Germany to be with his brother on his birthday.

Pope Francis offered Msgr. Ratzinger best wishes in advance for the name day they share -- the feast of St. George April 23. The pope's given name was born Jorge (George).

Keeping with tradition, the pope's name day is a Vatican holiday. Since Pope Benedict's feast day was the March 19 feast of St. Joseph -- always a Vatican holiday no matter who is pope -- employees get an extra holiday with the new pope.

END


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