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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 16th, 2012
Catholic Online (

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BENEDICT! Today is Pope Benedict XVI's 85th birthday. Thursday will also mark the seventh anniversary of his election to the papacy.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Benedict, who is now one of the oldest pontiffs in history, addressed pilgrims on Sunday asking for prayers "so that the Lord may give me the strength to carry out the mission He has entrusted to me."

Benedict is older than his predecessor, the beloved John Paul II, and in better health. One high-ranking official described the pontiff's health as "better than John Paul's was at 75."

And while there are signs the Holy Father is slowing down, there is no stopping the power of his intellect, his passionate and profound spirituality and his strong leadership of 1.2 billion faithful. 

Benedict continues to travel the globe shepherding the flock as he goes. Last year he visited Spain for World Youth Day and last month he made historic visits to Mexico and Cuba. The Pontiff told Fidel Castro, "I'm old but I can still carry out my duties." 

The Holy Father has also pledged a trip to Lebanon in the fall and a visit to Brazil in 2013. 

The Vatican says it has no concerns regarding his overall health.

It is the Holy Father's age and vitality that has people asking is he would ever resign from the papacy if his health prevented him from performing his duties. A Papal resignation has not happened since Celestine V in 1294. 

Benedict has suggested that yes, he would resign if he could no longer perform his duties.

But the Holy Father's opponents shouldn't get too excited yet. Despite the talk, there is no sign the aging pontiff is even considering a resignation, or will need to for a long time to come. 

In the meanwhile, Benedict, once called "God's rottweiler", has revealed himself as a man with a tender and pastoral heart.

He continues to be firm and direct in his leadership of the Catholic church. His stance on the fundamental theological issues is marked by unwavering fidelity to the teaching of the Church for two thousand years. 

He is clear in his orthodoxy (right doctrine) and orthopraxy (right practice). He has made it clear that he will not be "flexible" on what is central to the ancient yet ever new faith but will guard the deposit entrusted to him.

His professionalism is also reflected in the daily activities of the Vatican which are said to be more cerebral and methodical under his leadership.  

As the Pontiff celebrates his 85th, Catholics, other Christians, other people of faith and all people of good will around the world wish him well and look forward to many more years of capable and strong leadership. 


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