Pope marks 80th birthday Saturday with Mass and meetings

AP News
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Posted: Dec 13, 2016 8:47 AM
Pope marks 80th birthday Saturday with Mass and meetings

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is marking his 80th birthday on Saturday with a morning Mass with his cardinals and an otherwise "normal" day of back-to-back meetings and audiences.

Francis isn't one to make a big deal about birthdays, but his decision to celebrate a special Mass in the Paoline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace suggests that even he recognizes 80 is a significant milestone. The chapel is where Francis spent his first minutes in prayer after being elected in 2013.

Francis then has a series of audiences, including with the president of Malta and the head of the Vatican's office for bishops, among others.

The birthday comes at a tumultuous time for Francis, as he presses economic reforms in the Vatican and endures criticism from conservatives over his pastoral approach.