12/17/2013, 00.00
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India: The Church wishes Happy Birthday to Pope Francis, in memory of Mother Teresa

by Nirmala Carvalho
The Archbishop of Mumbai, Card. Oswald Gracias, pray to the Lord "to grant the Holy Father health , wisdom and grace , to continue to lead the Church and be an inspiration to us all." This week he will celebrate a Mass in the house of Mumbai for abandoned children, opened by the founder of the Missionaries of Charity.

Mumbai (AsiaNews ) - The Church of India and its 18 million Catholics send their birthday greetings to Pope Francis, who today celebrates his 77th birthday . "We pray to the Lord - Card. Gracias , President of the Bishops Conference and Archbishop of Mumbai told AsiaNews - to grant the Holy Father health , wisdom and grace , to continue to lead the Church and be an inspiration to us all. He reminds us of the mission and the spirit of Mother Teresa of Calcutta".

The prelate is one of the eight cardinals chosen by the Pope as advisors on Curia reform, and was a personal friend of the blessed for over 20 years. "What Pope Francis says - he said - is an echo of the life, work and message of Mother Teresa. He is satiating the thirst for Christ, and I am sure the Mother from Heaven is smiling, and together with the Indian Church wish him a happy birthday".

Today Card. Gracias will recite a prayer with all the priests of the diocese. This week he will visit Asha Daan ( "Gift of Hope" ) , the home founded by Mother Teresa in Mumbai for abandoned children . Here he will preside over a special Mass in honor of the Pope. Today the home houses 75 children - cared for by the Missionaries of Charity - along with over 400 men and women dying and ill with HIV. Finally, on December 21 also at Shanti Avedna Sadan , India's first hospice for the terminally ill , a special ceremony for the Pope's birthday will be celebrated.

Even the Carmelite nuns of Mumbai have wished happy birthday to the Holy Father. Through AsiaNews Sister Marie Gemma, prioress of the convent, said: "In this lovely day , God smiles with the gift of life to our beloved Holy Father, Pope Francis, a man who has won the hearts of all those who know him because he breathes Jesus in the love and tenderness that he shares with others. "


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