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Birthday book: Scholars offer Pope Benedict traditional German tribute


  • Retired Pope Benedict XVI makes a toast during celebrations marking his 88th birthday in 2015 at the Vatican. Before he was elected Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger once wrote he was grateful for being born April 16, 1927, a day that fell during the church's most intense liturgical season. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano)
  • Pope Francis greets retired Pope Benedict XVI in a 2015 file photo. Before he was elected Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger once wrote he was grateful for being born April 16, 1927, a day that fell during the church's most intense liturgical season. (CNS photo/Maurizio Brambatti, EPA)

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Before he was elected Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger once wrote that he was grateful for being born on a day that fell during the church's most intense liturgical season.

Born and baptized on April 16, 1927, which was Holy Saturday that year, "my life from the beginning was immersed in the paschal mystery, which could not be anything other than a blessing," he wrote in his book, "Milestones."

This year, the retired German pope turns 90 on Easter Sunday -- and like many past birthdays, it will be very low-key with a few visitors and a decidedly "Bavarian" touch, according to Archbishop Georg Ganswein, prefect of the papal household and personal secretary to the retired pope.

"This is the only thing he accepted," the longtime aide told the Italian weekly television talk show, Matrix, "because he doesn't want a big party."

Cards and letters have been pouring in, the German archbishop added, and certainly there will be some presents, including a "Festschrift" -- a collection of essays celebrating the work of a well-known scholar on an important occasion -- in this case Pope Benedict and his 90th birthday.

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