Discover the World News Forecast . . . FIRST in Foresight Journalism

VATICAN 16 Apr 2012 Pope Benedict XVI turns 85

The head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, celebrates his 85th birthday amid questions about his health. They resurfaced when he was pull

April 16, 2012 - NULL

VATICAN 16 Apr 2012 Pope Benedict XVI turns 85

The head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, celebrates his 85th birthday amid questions about his health. They resurfaced when he was pulled down the aisle of St. Peter's basilica on a rolling platform before he celebrated Mass on Oct 16. His use of the device attracted particular notice because it followed a September report in an Italian newspaper that said the pope might retire at 85. The centerpiece of the birthday celebrations for the music-loving pontiff might be a concert.

The centerpiece of the 80th-birthday celebrations

VATICAN 16 Apr 2012 Pope Benedict XVI turns 85

The head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, celebrates his 85th birthday amid questions about his health. They resurfaced when he was pulled down the aisle of St. Peter's basilica on a rolling platform before he celebrated Mass on Oct 16. His use of the device attracted particular notice because it followed a September report in an Italian newspaper that said the pope might retire at 85. The centerpiece of the birthday celebrations for the music-loving pontiff might be a concert.

The centerpiece of the 80th-birthday celebrations was a concert that brought together two of classical music stars at a joint appearance -- American violinist Hilary Hahn and Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel, who recently was appointed Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. A celebration as ambitious can be expected for his milestone 85th birthday.

The Vatican has been quick to deny that the Pope's use of the platform signified health problems, and explained that he used it to save energy during the liturgy. Pope John Paul II used the same platform in the last years of his life.

The Vatican also quashed speculation about the pontiff's retirment on his birthday. A prominent Catholic author, Antonio Socci, caused a stir in September with a newspaper article that suggested Pope Benedict XVI is thinking of retiring on his 85th birthday. Benedict was 78 when appointed pope in 2005.

In Dec 2009, questions about his health were raised when it emerged that the Vatican moved the traditional Christmas Eve Mass to 10 pm from midnight for the first time, explaining it would tire him less.

Pope Benedict suffered a mild stroke in 1991, and is believed to have suffered another just before his election as pope. He has twice fallen while on holiday in the Italian Alps, the first time in August 1992 and the second time in July this year. On the first occasion he hit his head. On the second he broke his wrist. The Vatican denied that he had fainted.

The pope celebrated his 83rd birthday with his brother in the papal apartments amid concerns that stress from the priests' sex abuse crisis could tell on his health: he is criticized for mishandling the scandal. Papal doctors have told the pontiff to slow down.

Cardinals are expected to resign at 80, and bishops at 75. (WRITTEN Oct 11)

RELATED READING:

VATICAN 16 Apr 2010 Embattled Pope Benedict XVI turns 83 (NewsAhead Apr 2010)
http://www.newsahead.com/preview/2010/04/16/vatican-16-apr-2010-embattled-pope-benedict-xvi-turns-83/index.php

Will the Pope Resign? It Wouldn't Be Easy, and May Not Be Possible (Huffington Post
http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/03/27/will-the-pope-resign-it-wouldnt-be-easy-and-may-not-be-possib/

Pope Benedict uses mobile platform at Mass (Telegraph 17 Oct 2011)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/8830651/Pope-Benedict
-uses-mobile-platform-at-Mass.html

Vatican refutes Pope's retirement (Postmedia/Windsor Star 26 Sep 2011)
http://www.windsorstar.com/life/Vatican+refutes+Pope+retirement/5457596/story.html

Date written/update: 2012-04-16