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‘I don’t know what is awaiting me,’ says Pope on 85th birthday

By on Monday, 16 April 2012

Children in traditional Bavarian dress greet Pope Benedict XVI on his 85th birthday (CNS photo)

Children in traditional Bavarian dress greet Pope Benedict XVI on his 85th birthday (CNS photo)

Pope Benedict XVI celebrated his 85th birthday today with guests who treated him to Bavarian “oompah” music and folk dancing in the apostolic palace.

Earlier in the day, in an impromptu homily, the Pope had said: “I find myself on the last stretch of my journey in life, and I don’t know what is awaiting me.”

“I know, however, that the light of God exists, that he is risen, that his light is stronger than any darkness and that God’s goodness is stronger than any evil in this world, and this helps me go forward with certainty,” he said.

Later Bavarian bishops, minister-president of Bavaria Horst Seehofer and a 150-person regional government delegation visited the Pope in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall.

They were accompanied by a small Bavarian band, three female singers and 10 children who danced the skirt-swirling, shoe-stomping, thigh-slapping “Schuhplattler” before the Pope.

The Pope’s 88-year-old brother, Msgr Georg Ratzinger, also attended the festivities as well as representatives from the Lutheran Church and the Jewish community in Bavaria.

The children, dressed in traditional costume, presented the Pope with white flowers and a maypole covered with colourful ribbons. They also recited a German birthday poem.

The delegation presented the Pope with gifts of a wooden crucifix sculpted by a well-known 18th-century Bavarian woodcarver, Ignaz Gunther, and a large Easter basket filled with traditional cakes, dark bread, ham and painted eggs.

In his address to the Pope, Mr Seehofer said Bavaria was still the most Catholic region in Germany and that it was still common to find the crucifix hung in public schools and small roadside shrines maintained throughout the area.

“You’ve always stayed Bavarian and we’re very grateful for that,” he told the Pope.

Among the guests were all seven of Bavaria’s Catholic bishops, including Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising and his predecessor, Cardinal Friedrich Wetter.

In his address, Cardinal Marx thanked the Pope for his fidelity to the faith, saying he was an important example to all bishops of loyalty and obedience.

The Pope, who smiled and clapped during the 40-minute event, thanked everyone present and noted how the different cities, people and ages represented there were “a reflection of all the stages in my life”.

He said the music and instruments reminded him of his childhood. His father used to play the stringed zither, he said, and, as children, he and his siblings would sing “God Greets You”, which was sung at the Vatican event.

“This is the sound of my youth, present and future,” the Pope told his guests.

At the end of the celebration, everyone, including the Pope, sang the Bavarian state anthem.

Earlier in the day, the Pope celebrated a private Mass in the Pauline Chapel with his Bavarian guests and Vatican officials.

In an impromptu homily, the Pope thanked his deceased parents for his birth, which happened on Holy Saturday, and his baptism – another life-giving event – the same day, he said.

The Pope asked whether it was “responsible or too unpredictable” to simply bring forth new life. While life is a gift, “it is surrounded by a larger question,” he said.

“Life becomes a true gift if one can also make a promise, together with [life], that is stronger than any misfortune that can threaten us, that [life] be immersed in a strength that guarantees that it is good to be human,” he said.

That is why birth must be accompanied by rebirth, or baptism, he said, because it is also being welcomed into a community of faith in Christ that gives people the certainty and hope that it truly is good to exist and be alive.

Vatican Radio said greetings from all over the world had been sent to the Pope.

The Vatican even set up a special email address ( so well-wishers could send a note marking the Pope’s birthday and the seventh anniversary of his election on Thursday, April 19.

The Pope cut his Easter holiday short by two days on Friday to return to the Vatican from the papal villa in Castel Gandolfo near Rome to spend the weekend with his brother, who travelled to Rome from Germany.

During his “Regina Coeli” address, the Pope asked people to pray for him, “that the Lord give me the strength to accomplish the mission he entrusted in me”.

  • Charles Martel

    Dear Holy Father

    Happy Birthday!

    Happy 7th Anniversary as Pope!

    Thank you for all you have done for us. Thank you for the liberation of the
    Traditional Roman Mass. Thank you for lifting the excommunications of the
    bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre. Thank you for your defence of the
    Faith. Please continue to uphold the purity of the Catholic Faith and condemn all errors.

  • annodomini6

    Oh Almighty God have mercy upon your servant Pope Benedict and in Thy mercy direct him to the way of eternal salvation that he may desire by Thy grace those things that are agreeable to Thee and
    perform them with all his strength through Christ our Lord. Amen

    Happy birthday dear Pope Benedict and continue the wonderful work you are doing for the faith.

  • Benedict Carter

    Hear, hear! to both the above posts.

  • Jason

    Lord, source of eternal life and truth, give to your sheperd, Pope Benedict XVI, a spirit of courage and right judgement, a spirite of knowledge and love. By governing with fidelity those entrusted to his care, may be, as successor to the Apostle Peter and Vicar of Christ, build your Church into a sacrament of unity, love and peace for all the world. Amen.

    V: Let us pray for Pope Benedict XVI.
    R: May the Lord preserve him, give him a long life, make him blessed upon the earth, and not hand him over to the power of his enemies.
    V: May your hand be upon your holy servant.
    R: And upon your son, whom you have anointed.

    Our Father…
    Haily Mary…
    Glory Be…

    (Adopted from Prayers on EWTM Website)

    Happy Birth and Papal Aniversary, Holy Father! May God be your strength and consolations as always.

  • cewubaaca

    Perhaps he could mark this milestone by releasing the Vatican files on the abuse of children in the care of priests.

  • cewubaaca

    The end must be near for the Pope. I only hope that he can find the humility to repent for his role in the hiding of the behaviour of priests that abused their trust inthe care of children.

  • Tess in Texas

    For the intentions of our Holy Father: for his health, safety,well-being and long life. For the success of his pontificate: so the world will hear and heed his word. Our Father …. Hail Mary …. Glory Be ….

    My own personal prayer, created way before EWTN’s

  • JByrne24

    When the Holy Father said  “This is the sound of my youth, present and future”, I hope he didn’t mean to imply that we shall hear either the stringed zither or the “oompah” band in the hear-after.

  • Michael O’Neill

    You appear to have found your way onto a Catholic website by mistake – might provide a more receptive readership for your ignorant comments; CH readers are much too well informed to appreciate a cheap and uninformed jibe.

  • Sheena

         I am sick and fed up with the comments surrounding clerical sex-abuse under this Pope. In case it escaped your memory that the last Pope John Paul II was the one who did not do all he could and should have done to deal with this issue. Once again get your facts straight and read “Man Of The Century” which has a whole page on this issue. Let’s get this straight. Joseph Ratzinger wanted to act on this as head of the CDF and John Paul would not let him (investigate the Legion Of Christ’s Founder) Also Benedict started his own investigation of American Seminaries shortly after his election. Also he has personally apologized (including the Good Friday Stations of the Cross) he has met with the victims and listened to them. It may not be perfect and complete but it is way more than anything his predecessor had ever done. Also he personally can’t be responsible for what the abusers themselves did. Everybody is personally responsible for their own behavior and actions and besides sex abuse happens everywhere and in every religion and institution. Happy Birthday, Holy Father!

  • cewubaaca

    Please clarify why it was either cheap or uninformed.

  • Edmund Burke

    What a nasty, malicious and ill-founded statement. It is you who needs to repent.

  • cewubaaca

    Either your Pope wrote to all Catholic bishops telling them to keep allegations of child abuse secret on pain of excommunication or he didn’t.
    Which is it?

  • cewubaaca

    Did Ratzinger write to all Cartholic bishops ordering them to keep allegations of child abuse on pain of excommunication or not?

  • Michael O’Neill

    When you have had a chance to acquaint yourself with the facts, that will become self-evident for you.

  • cewubaaca

    His apology is worth nothing until he hands over the details of abusive priests to the civil authorities.
    The letter ordering the covering up of the scandal went out under his name. If he didn’t like it he should have resigned. Your defense that he was only following orders does not absolve him of his responsibility.

  • cewubaaca

    Answer the question, either you lend your support to an abuse enabler or you don’t. If he didn’t try to cover up child abuse by priests explain to me why I am mistaken.

  • Recusant

    Not. Next question.

  • Michael O’Neill

    If the answer to your question is so blindingly obvious, why don’t you point us to the clear, unambiguous and accepted evidence?  In the meantime, like most fair-minded people, I will accept the evidence available which shows a clear and consistent record of tackling what the Holy Father described as the ‘filth’ of clerical child abuse.

  • Recusant

    Not. Next question

  • cewubaaca

    I think you are bearing false witness, aren’t you!

  • Kevinrbranson

    Remind me of the letter. Please link to it as it has been a while since I read the letter to which you are referring. As I recall the letter, I am certain that you are misrepresenting the intent of the actual instructions given, perhaps due to your ignorance of pastoral and canonical requirements in matters that involve disclosure of sin. Certainly you wouldn’t be intentionally slandering the Holy Father. Thanks for the link…KB

  • cewubaaca
  • cewubaaca
  • Michael O’Neill

    A canon lawyer with a knowledge of Rotal jurisprudence should be able to assist you in correcting your misunderstanding of how canon law and its relationship to civil law operates.

  • cewubaaca

    You know the rest of us don’t give a hoot for your club rules. The letter clearly states that allegations of abuse of minors should be kept secret, thus frustrating the course of justice.

  • Michael O’Neill

    You not ‘giving a hoot’ about ‘club rules’ means that you don’t have enough context to understand what the text actually means which makes your interpretation merely a projection of what you would like the document to say rather than what it actually says….though I do wonder why someone who cares so little is reading the Catholic Herald!

  • cewubaaca

    Is your point that it does not order bishops to keep allegations of child abuse secret? I think that is quite explicit. Its there in black and white. Why are you so keen to defend the covering up of child abuse and the defence of the perpetrators from the police and courts? Is there anything that your kind would find unnacceptable from the church at all?!

  • Michael O’Neill

    So, a document that was publicly published in 2001 in the Acte Apostolicae Sedis (widely available to the public at large if they are so inclined) is to be interpreted as an edict to bishops to cover up child abuse?  I mean, seriously???

  • Michaelthomassmith

    Actually he wrote demanding that any case of abuse be
    immediately sent to the offices for the congregation of the doctrine of the
    faith and gave the specific circumstances when this was the case. No doubt you
    allude to the ‘pontifical secret’ statement but that is a formality of Papal
    procedure that was changed in 2001, specifically to prevent the use to which
    you mistakenly believe it to be put.

    ‘An example of the imposition of automatic excommunication for violation of secrecy was found in the 1962 instruction Crimen sollicitationis (in force until replaced by new norms in 2001),[5]
    which imposed this penalty on members of a Church tribunal trying a
    priest accused of making sexual advances to a penitent in connection
    with the sacrament of Penance, if they violated secrecy about
    developments in the course of the ecclesiastical trial.[6]
    A person to whom such advances were made was, on the contrary,
    subjected to excommunication if that person failed to denounce the
    priest within at most one month.[7]

    Thus the procedures of the Church tribunal were covered by papal secrecy (called at that time secrecy of the Holy Office),
    but the crime of the priest was not: “These matters are confidential
    only to the procedures within the Church, but do not preclude in any way
    for these matters to be brought to civil authorities for proper legal
    adjudication. The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young
    People of June, 2002, approved by the Vatican, requires that credible
    allegations of sexual abuse of children be reported to legal

  • kendallpeak

    Folks, because I have to much time on my hands, I have spent time arguing with atheist lost souls on other web venues. It is pointless. I believe the logical explanation is simply that these people who roam the web claiming to be atheist don’t actually disbelieve in God, they hate Him. One might as well argue with a demon.

  • Parasum
  • Pat Schwarz

    Since you keep posting the bishop accountability website, which does not serve truth in it’s fullness, is biased and, obviously,  has little respect or love of the Catholic Church and the clergy, I will post and send you to someone who can give you many facts you are missing. 

  • Benedict Carter

    That’s my constant experience of the past several years on the Daily Telegraph blogs. They cite “reason”, they cite “science”, but all I see, hear and smell is hatred for Christ. 

  • Conrad Mojuntin

    O holy Father Benedict XVI,please reveal the 3rd secret of Fatima in full immediately. You know,without any doubt that our GOD wants you to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mother Mary.Please command all the Roman Catholic Bishops throughout the world to consecrate with you, Russia, to the Immaculate Heart of Mother Mary in one day at the same hour,before many nations are annihilated. May our adorable Master & Redeemer JESUS CHRIST bless,guide,inspire & protect you all the time.

  • Abadilla

    If you don’t give a hoot about the rules of the game, you can’t expect us to believe your lies!
    See, the Church was persecuted by the Romans, the arians, the barbariansm the Vikings, kinbgs, queens and Emperoros who wanted to subject the Church to their power, the Protestant Reformation, the Frecnch Revolution, and now the culture of death, and folks like you have existed for two thousand years, and the Church will be here long after you are gone, as it is here as all those movements have been buried and forgotten. But wait, there is a difference, when all is said and done history will remember who Benedict XVI is, but will not remember at all who you and I were.

  • Abadilla


    What is so incredible is that he points to a letter from the then Prefect for the Sacred Congregation of the Faith to the bishops of the world and at the end of that letter it states, ” it is hoped not only that more grave delicts will be entirely avoided, but
    especially that ordinaries and hierarchs have solicitous pastoral care to look
    after the holiness of the clergy and the faithful even through necessary
    sanctions.” One would think he would get it, but truth is not what the man is after. What he is after is spreading his venom to all of us for the “grave” sin of loving our Pope. To add insult to injury, he then accuses all of us of not caring for the abused. Have you ever met a Catholic who does not care for the victims?

  • cewubaaca

    I don’t deny that the Catholic empire is powerful. I just don’t understand how otherwise decent people can lend their support to an institution that does so much evil.
    I truly believe that you are better than that.

  • Lmolina61

    Viva Benedicto!

  • karlf

     How can one hate something that one doesn’t believe to exist? Jesus hasn’t been around for 2000 years (unlesss you can show otherwise??)

  • karlf

     Christians can object to the covering up of child abuse too you know!

  • adrian_smith

    The ‘purity’ of the catholic faith. That’s so funny. And so
    the mission that the Lord has “entrusted” to the Pope is what I wonder. Oh my,
    what a tragic mess the Lord must want the church to be. Perhaps the real
    mission the Lord wants the Pope to accomplish is to have us realise the
    stupidity in trusting one person to have the power that he presently has. If
    that is the mission then Pope Benedict is doing a wonderful job. Reform becomes
    inevitable under such tyranny.

  • Diane

    Go away and grow up! Your being for one disrespectful to abuse victims myself for one as a child by guess what a family member!!! These monsters sadly are in every walk of life….
    I’m sick of people like you using this matter as a tool to bring down the church at any given chance! Abuse victims need support, love not the likes of this above to read.

    I’m a converted catholic and I can tell you one thing, I fear no priest, I fear not the pope I only fear the downright evil this world has been consumed with because of one fallen evil one!!
    Get over yourself

  • Diane

    You appear so hellbent on being heard…..tell me why the such heavy interest in pedophilia?? It’s not normal

  • Diane

    People like cewubaaca are everywhere. They think they are helping abuse victims but it actually causes more pain.
    As a converted catholic who was as a child abused by an uncle I can tell you that no police action was taken infact zero action was taken. It’s not just one kind of man whether of faith or not that gets away with these hienious crimes it’s ALL kinds of men worldwide and even if they do serve time it’s very very little time.

    I have no fear of the catholic church infact it has healed my soul in so many ways! I admire the pope benedict and I understand that what happened was the fault of the priest himself and only himself and as a person of faith I believe in my heart that only the lord judges.

    Pedophilia is sadly rife and that can be done is to look back and learn and I know that the Vatican do all they can to prevent any crimes being committed by priests. Priests go through so much psychological training prior to being ordained so who is the likes of that man or woman below to rant the way he has.
    It seems this aithiest anti church culture will do all they can to bring the faith down but they will never win ……I believe things will get worse before better but the wrath of god will be felt by them one day if they don’t repent

  • Marcus

    “Faith of our fathers living  still, in spite of dungeon, fire and sword.”
    God Bless B16
    he is my German Shepherd.

  • R.Tenn

    I have sent birthday greeting via Fr. Frank Pavone, but am not sure it went through, or I was one day late.

    Nevertheless, we have offered prayers for his health while praying the Living Rosary at St. Louis Catholic church at Pinecrest, Miami.

    Roy Tenn

  • cewubaaca

    One thing abuse victims need is justice. The church stands in the way of justice.

  • Floto

     Happy Birthday!  Your holiness Pope Benedict xvi. My wish is-that God guide you in all your undertakings for this sinful world. You are doing an amazing job  for the catholic church . Your burden is not a light one. WE hope as catholics that the Holy Spirit illuminate all your doings. God bless! The Follett Family

  • Benedict Carter

    Looks like the SSPX is in!

    Goodbye assorted Vatican II die-hards, liberals, dissenters, heretics, apostates, schismatics, neo-Protestants, you Modernist destroyers of the Lord’s Vineyard!

    The Day of the Hippy is definitely numbered!!!!