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VATICAN 16 Apr 2013 Pope Benedict XVI turns 86

Pope Benedict XVI celebrates his 86th birthday on Apr 16 and the eighth anniversary of his election as head of the Roman Catholic Church on Apr 19. The

April 16, 2013 - NULL

VATICAN 16 Apr 2013 Pope Benedict XVI turns 86

Pope Benedict XVI celebrates his 86th birthday on Apr 16 and the eighth anniversary of his election as head of the Roman Catholic Church on Apr 19. The 265th pope in a line reaching to St. Peter, he is the oldest pontiff in over a century and the sixth-oldest since the 15th Century. The welfare of the papacy appears to be a preoccupation. He is expected to take the rare step of holding two consistories in 2013, as in 2012, to create more cardinals. Those under 80 are the only

VATICAN 16 Apr 2013 Pope Benedict XVI turns 86

Pope Benedict XVI celebrates his 86th birthday on Apr 16 and the eighth anniversary of his election as head of the Roman Catholic Church on Apr 19. The 265th pope in a line reaching to St. Peter, he is the oldest pontiff in over a century and the sixth-oldest since the 15th Century. The welfare of the papacy appears to be a preoccupation. He is expected to take the rare step of holding two consistories in 2013, as in 2012, to create more cardinals. Those under 80 are the only ones eligible to vote for a new Pope should he die or retire. But his pledge to visit Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day in June and a busy Vatican schedule suggest he has no thought of bowing to age and infirmity by retiring.

Questions about his health were raised in Dec 2009 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 Pope Benedict less. He suffered a mild stroke in 1991, and is believed to have suffered another just before his election. He has twice fallen while on holiday in the Italian Alps, the first time in Aug 1992 and the second time in 2009, when he broke his wrist.

Talk of possible retirement resurfaced when he was pulled down the aisle of St. Peter's basilica on a rolling platform before he celebrated Mass on Oct 16 in 2011. 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.

Despite his age, Pope Benedict is still in relatively good health, according to his 88-year-old brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, in a December interview. Apart from some trouble walking, the prelate told a German newspaper, the Pope's health "was in order" and he was "relatively fresh and constantly taking exercise."

Pope Benedict XVI celebrated a Bavarian birthday in 2012, marking his 85 years with his brother, German bishops and a musical band from his native land. (WRITTEN JAN 2013)

KEYWORDS: Pope Benedict XVI, 86, 86th birthday, April 2013, retirement, cardinals, consistories, Vatican, vote for pope, Rio de Janeiro, Europe, papacy, Roman Catholic Church, Catholic news

RELATED READING:

Another Busy Year Ahead for Pope Benedict XVI (NCR 2 Jan 2013)
http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/another-busy-year-ahead-for-pope-benedict-xvi

Pope Benedict XVI Celebrates 85th Birthday (ABC 16 Apr 2012)
http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/04/pope-benedict-xvi-celebrates-85th-birthday/

Date written/update: 2013-04-16