Pope Francis celebrates his 85th birthday 

By Benedict Mayaki, SJ

Dec 18 2021

Messages of felicitation pour in as the Holy Father turns 85 on Friday. Cardinal Michael Czerny reflects on how some of the issues he champions give us an insight into his personality and in particular on his invitation to passionately engage in the synodal process.

Pope Francis turns 85 on Friday. Just last Monday, 13 December, he celebrated the 52nd anniversary of his priestly ordination.

People across the world, and certainly not only Catholics, are celebrating with the Pope on the occasion of his birthday, with messages of good wishes pouring in from all different quarters.

Also felicitating the Pope on his birthday is Cardinal Michael Czerny, a fellow Jesuit and the under-secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. He highlights the gift that a birthday is.

“The 17th of December is a day worth reflecting on,” the Cardinal says, adding that the Holy Father must have already had retirement plans when he went into the conclave that elected him Pope in 2013, but “the Holy Spirit decided differently.”

“The intervening years are a free gift – gratuitous,” Cardinal Czerny notes, “I think that highlights our feelings, which is that we can only be very grateful.”

“Ad multos annos!” Cardinal Czerny says, wishing the Pope many more years to come.

Pope Francis and his gift to the Church

The Cardinal also reflected on Pope Francis’s pontificate, the important themes that he champions and how they give us an insight into his personality.

Cardinal Czerny points out that the recently-launched Synod on synodality sums up many of the cares and concerns of the Holy Father, because it is “the most hopeful notion you could have about the Church.”

“I think this is [the Pope’s] gift to the Church,” the Cardinal says, “A way of being Church that brings us together toward hope in faith and in love for one another.”

Michael Czerny also thinks of his personal experiences of meeting with the Pope, saying that he has been most struck by Pope Francis’s “equilibrium, balance and serenity”, which enables him to handle both big and small issues with equanimity.

With the Pope, he explains, “a big problem does not rattle him and a small problem does not get neglected. That kind of balance – a dynamic balance – is very edifying and makes me very happy whenever we have had the chance to meet.”

Pope Francis was born on 17 December 1936 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This year, he celebrated his 8th anniversary as the head of the Church.- Vatican News