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Pope turns down 80th birthday wishes

Pope Francis on Wednesday quipped that people should not send him early birthday wishes because, in his native Argentina, doing so brings bad luck.Francis turns 80 on Saturday for the occasion; the Vatican has opened seven email accounts that can receive birthday messages in Latin, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, English, French, German and Polish.

“I thank you all for the wishes for my upcoming birthday, thanks a lot.

“But let me tell you something that will make you laugh: In my country early birthday wishes bring bad luck,’’ the pontiff said during his weekly audience.

Meeting the faithful in the Vatican’s Paul VI’s hall, Francis was presented with a cake from a woman.

It had two lit candles, one in the shape of an “8” and another in the shape of a “0” the pope blew them out.

Francis, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 17 December 1936, is the 266th and current Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, a title he holds ex officio as Bishop of Rome, and sovereign of Vatican City.

He chose Francis as his papal name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi. Francis is the first Jesuit pope, the first from the Americas, the first from the Southern Hemisphere and the first non-European pope since Syrian Gregory III, who died in 741.

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Bergoglio worked briefly as a chemical technologist and nightclub bouncer before beginning seminary studies.

He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1969, and from 1973 to 1979 was Argentina’s provincial superior of the Society of Jesus.

He led the Argentine Church during the December 2001 riots in Argentina, and the administrations of Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner considered him a political rival.

Following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on 28 February 2013, a papal conclave elected Bergoglio as his successor on 13 March.

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