December 2023: Pope Francis celebrates his 87th birthday

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The last month of the year at the Vatican began with Pope Francis still recovering from lung inflammation. He decided not to appear on the balcony of the papal apartments but rather only greeted pilgrims at the beginning and at the end of his Sunday Angelus.

But a few days later, the Pope appeared to have recovered enough to be able to celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception. In the Piazza di Spagna, he prayed before the statue of the Virgin Mary. Shortly before, the Pope made a stop at the Basilica of St. Mary Major to offer a golden rose to the icon of the Salus Populi Romani.

In an interview, Pope Francis announced his desire to be buried in this basilica rather than in the Vatican due to his great devotion to the patron saint of Rome, Salus Populi Romani. He said that his tomb was already prepared.

Five days later, Pope Francis celebrated his 87th birthday. As he has done before, he spent it with the children of the Casa Santa Marta Dispensary.

Good morning to all of you and thank you very much, to see all of you, so many little girls and boys all here. Thank you so much and we have to get ready for a big party, which will be next week: Christmas.
Now, each of you think: what am I going to ask Jesus? In silence. Close your eyes and think.

In December, the Vatican trial of the century concluded with a guilty verdict. Cardinal Angelo Becciu had been charged with improper use of Vatican funds. The former Vatican official was sentenced to five and a half years in prison, fined almost $9,000 and banned for life from holding public office in the Vatican. His lawyers maintain his innocence and announced that they will appeal when possible.

The Vatican also published a declaration from the Doctrine of the Faith, signed by Pope Francis, which discusses the blessing of couples in irregular situations. The declaration emphasizes that Church doctrine is unchanged and remains firm in its position. But couples can request blessings as long as they are asking for help and not to legitimize their situation.


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