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Rome Reports

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Thousands go to St. Peter's Square to congratulate Pope on his 78th birthday

The word that stood out the most during Wednesday's general audience was 'congratulations.' December 17th marks the Pope's 78th birthday. Thousands of visitors didn't forget the big day.  A group of seminarians even brought him a cake. And Pope blew out the candles. As usual, he made his way through St. Peter's Square, and blessed several children along the way. He also took a quick break to chat a bit with seminarians who are studying in Rome.  The Pope focused his catechesis on the family, describing it as a gift from God. With Christmas Season, he noted that Jesus chose to be born within a family. He then called on all Christian families, to embrace Jesus just like Mary and Joseph did.  POPE FRANCIS  "Every Christian family, can welcome Jesus  just like Mary and Joseph did. They can listen to Him, talk to Him, protect Him, grow with Him. And in doing so, they can change the world. Let's make room in our hearts and in our day, to welcome Jesus. That's what Mary and Joseph did. It wasn't easy. They had to overcome many challenges!â? He went on to add that Jesus' family was a real and hardworking family with its ups and downs. This, he said, should serve as an example to all other average, every day families.  POPE FRANCIS "They were not a fake family or an unrealistic one. The family of Nazareth allows us to rediscover the vocation and mission of the family, the every day family.â? To celebrate the Pope's birthday a group of tango dancers came to St. Peter's Square to take part in a so called Tango Flash mob, and dance for the Pope.  POPE FRANCIS "When I passed through the Square, I saw different groups of tango dancers. I hope you can put on a good show today and bring in some Argentinian winds.â?  Even though the mood was festive, the Pope also took on a serious note. He prayed for the victims of the recent terrorists attacks in Australia, Pakistan and Yemen and their families. He called on the attackers to have a change of heart.  AC/KLH  CTV JM -BN Up:AC