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Rome Reports

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Pope jokes with pilgrims: In my homeland wishing a happy birthday ahead of time is bad luck

This morning, Paul VI Audience Hall in the Vatican became a great parish hall during the pope's catechesis.   Pope Francis spoke about Christmas and he said it means two things: that God descends to Earth to be close to each of us, and that he comes with a very special gift: forgiveness. POPE FRANCIS "We need to learn this because we are stubborn. We don't learn this. Who is greater, God or sin? Who? You don't sound very convinced. I can't hear you. God. FLASH. Is God able to overcome the greatest sin? And the most shameful? How about the worst of sins, is he able to overcome that too?â? Pope Francis added that God is an expert in healing Christians who are sad, discouraged and weary due to the hardness of the journey.     POPE FRANCIS "I have no hope. There is nothing left for me. A Christian that is unable to look to the future with hope. And in front of his heart there is only a wall. But God destroys walls with forgiveness.â? This was the last public meeting of the pope with pilgrims before his birthday on Saturday. That is why there was very special atmosphere during the audience. POPE FRANCIS "I thank you all for your birthday wishes. Thank you very much. But I will tell you something that might make you laugh...In my homeland, wishing a happy birthday ahead of time brings bad luck!â?   Pope Francis turns 80 on Saturday, but he has no special celebrations scheduled: he will attend meetings and will celebrate Mass with the cardinals living in Rome.   JRB/AG CTV -S -BN Up:JD