(Vatican Radio) The Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI marked his 88th birthday on Thursday (April 16th) with a Bavarian-style celebration. He received birthday greetings from a group of Gebirgsschutzen (mountain protection units) from his native Bavaria, dressed in traditional costumes. Among those present to celebrate his birthday were his older brother Monsignor Georg Ratzinger and the Prefect of the Pontifical Household, Archbishop George Ganswein.
Since resigning as Pope in February 2013, Benedict XVI has lived a life of prayer and reclusion at the Mater Ecclesiae situated inside the Vatican Gardens. Speaking in an interview with Vatican Radio, Monsignor Alfred Xuereb, the former second secretary of Benedict XVI, said affection for the Pope Emeritus has increased over the past two years. He paid tribute to Benedict XVI’s great humility and humanity as well as his deep intellect and his ability to transmit profound thoughts. Monsignor Xuereb also confirmed that the Pope Emeritus enjoys a “great serenity,” and a clear realization that “he took the right step” (by resigning), describing that move as “an act of great generosity towards the Church.”
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