Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Greetings from political and religious figures, from men of culture and from the faithful all over the world for Benedict XVI, who turns 82 today. The pope is spending the day at his residence in Castel Gandolfo, near Rome.
There is no lack of special initiatives for Benedict XVI's birthday: one unique initiative is being conducted in France, with the launching of the website touchepasàmonpape.com (don't touch my pope), and Facebook groups launching a campaign "to contribute to financing the first private NGO that has successfully fought AIDS all over the world: the Catholic Church."
It's a quiet day at the Vatican: a working day, since the offices are instead closed on the feast of St. Joseph, the pope's name day.
AsiaNews has received the text of the greeting sent by Sister M. Suma, the regional superior in Orissa for the Missionaries of Charity, the sisters of Mother Teresa. These are her words:
"Greetings of gratitude and love to our beloved Holy Father on your birthday, for your care and concern for your children of Kandhamal! Our beloved Holy Father, as you celebrate your birthday in the octave of the greatest feast of the Church - the Resurrection - the Missionaries of Charity join our Blessed Mother Teresa, who is praying for Pope Benedict XVI from heaven in her own words: 'Never let anything so fill you with pain or sorrow, so as to make you forget the joy of the Risen Lord.' We, the Missionaries of Charity in Orissa, greet you with love and service.
"April 16 is election day in Kandhamal, a 'Day of Prayer' in all of Mother Teresa's houses in Orissa. We will be in Eucharistic Adoration from 6 am to 7 pm, praying for peace during the election.
"Our prayers and love are also for the Shepherd of the Church, who has also been persecuted and attacked and misunderstood for being the Vicar of Christ. The Missionaries of Charity offer as a gift to the Holy Father on his birthday all our sufferings and joys, and assure His Holiness that, assured of his prayers and support, we will proclaim Christ through our service and lives, and by living fearlessly for others, bearing witness to His name.
"At these times, more than ever, during the various sufferings and injustices, the Missionaries of Charity reassure our beloved Pope Benedict that he continues to be a voice that is listened to. His voice for the suffering Church, and his love for the poor, his charity towards the less privileged and his call for justice all over the world is the Caritas of our beloved Supreme Pontiff.
"Let nothing weigh you down Holy Father, the tears and blood of our people in Kandhamal are praying for you and your pontificate.