Pope Francis has Levity and Frank Social Discussion on His Birthday

Pope Francis stayed true to both his cultural heritage and his social justice views on Sunday when we celebrated his 81st birthday with a 13-foot pizza. He was surrounded by sick children who were being treated at the Vatican’s pediatric Dispensary of Santa Marta.

He joked that the children should eat the pizza, saying “it will make you grow.” Pope Francis is a huge fan of pizza and has lamented the fact he can no longer anonymously go out to get a slice. The pizza was made in the traditional Italian long form, rather than in a circle.

He also used the opportunity to praise the importance of children. “They are a treasure.” Because his birthday was on a Sunday he conducted his weekly prayers. Thousands of Catholics sang him Happy Birthday, including a large number of children.

He also used it to give his popular messages of not focusing on materialism during the holidays and urged the release of for nuns that had been kidnapped in Nigeria. Pope Francis had recently spoken about the importance of the elderly. He declared that they are “the historical memory of every community, a patrimony of wisdom and faith that needs to be heard, cared for and valued.” He expressed disappointment that many elderly are forgotten and put in communal homes by their families. Pope Francis has been outspoken throughout his service to support vulnerable groups as a duty of Catholics. This is his fifth birthday as pope.

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