Rose French writes about religious and spiritual matters for the Star Tribune. Before arriving in the Twin Cities this fall, she covered religion for the Associated Press in Tennessee, where she wrote about the Southern Baptists, United Methodists, Gideons and other religious groups and issues.
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It’s the 85th birthday of Pope Benedict XVI — and he’s celebrating it German style.
The pope had “a very Bavarian birthday Monday, marking his 85 years with his brother, German bishops and a musical band from his native land,” The Associated Press reports:
“Benedict began the day with a Mass in which he alluded to his own mortality, saying he would carry on his final years knowing that God was watching over him.
“I am facing the final leg of the path of my life and I don’t know what’s ahead,” Benedict said in his homily. “I know though that God’s light is there ... and that his light is stronger than every darkness.”
Benedict is the sixth-oldest pope since the 1400s, and his milestone birthday has some speculating about his replacement, the Catholic News Service reports:
“Last fall, the pope stopped walking in processions up the main aisle of St. Peter’s and started riding a mobile platform instead; in March, it was revealed that he sometimes walks with a cane. The pope’s schedule grew lighter last year, as he stopped meeting one-on-one with most visiting bishops. During this year’s Holy Week liturgies, television viewers around the world could see unmistakable signs of fatigue on the pontiff’s face.”
“While none of this suggests that the pope does not have years of life ahead of him, a number of commentators have asked in print, and many more have done so off the record, if he might be getting ready to step down. Pope Benedict himself has said that a pope might have an 'obligation to resign' once he 'is no longer physically, psychologically, and spiritually capable of handling the duties of his office.'”