14 December 2016, The Tablet

Vatican encourages faithful to send birthday message to Pope Francis

A hashtag and email addresses have been set up for the Pope's 80th birthday

Even though Pope Francis was planning a "normal" workday for his birthday, well-wishers can help brighten it up with special tweets and emails.

According to the Vatican press office, the Pope, who turns 80 on 17 December, is going to celebrate his birthday with Mass in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace together with all the resident cardinals living in Rome.  "The rest of the day will be 'normal,' loaded with appointments," said the statement.

However, as a novelty and in keeping with the Pope's popular online presence, the Vatican has invited faithful from around the world to send their well-wishes using the hashtag #Pontifex80 or through a special email address in different languages.

-- [email protected] (English)

-- [email protected] (Spanish/Portuguese)

-- [email protected] (French)

-- [email protected] (Polish)

-- [email protected] (German)

-- [email protected] (Italian)

-- [email protected] (Latin)

UK parliamentarians will send their own special message to the Pope for his birthday, after Catholic MP Rob Flello sponsored an Early Day Motion. Mr Flello said: "In wishing His Holiness Pope Frances a very Happy Birthday can I also both thank him for his clear and merciful leadership of the Church and assure him of my prayers on his birthday and everyday. May God Bless him and continue to fill his heart with divine joy."

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