Vatican City, Dec 17, 2016 / 12:41 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI sent birthday greetings to Pope Francis on Saturday, Francis’ eightieth birthday. The Holy See Press Office characterized the written message as “very affectionate” and “particularly appreciated” by the Pope. Benedict then made a personal call to the Pope.
“In addition, Benedict XVI sent Pope Francis three small gifts that the Holy Father received as three very personal and meaningful signs for both of them,” the press office said.
Pope Francis received more than 70,000 birthday wishes from all over the world via email. Of these, the most numerous were in English, Spanish, Polish and Italian. The press office said the Pope is going ahead with the day as normal and is living it “with great joy.” “He was particularly happy by the presence of so many children and youth participants in his audience with the Nomadelfia Community.”
He received members of this community in audience on Saturday. The community of about 330 people, including many women and children, was founded by the Italian priest Father Zeno Saltini, who died in 1981. It helps about 10,000 people per year. Pope Francis said this community’s spiritual heritage is particularly characterized by their welcome towards children and their special care for the elderly.
“I encourage you to give to society this example of care and tenderness, which is so important. Children and the elderly construct the future of peoples: children, because they take history forward, and the elderly, because they transmit the experience and wisdom of their life,” he said. “Do not tire of cultivating and nurturing this dialogue between generations, making faith your lodestar and the Word of God the principal lesson to be assimilated and lived in the reality of everyday life.”