A sign with the words "Viva il Papa" (Long Live the Pope) is seen in the Vatican's St. Peter's Square as Pope Benedict XVI leads the Angelus from the window of his apartment above the square Feb. 26. The sign also mentions the Italian town of Riesi in Sicily. CNS photo/Paul Haring

Pope begins retreat, encourages prayer, fasting, charity

By  Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service
  • February 27, 2012

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI asked Catholics for their prayers as he began his weeklong Lenten retreat Feb. 26.

Before reciting the Angelus prayer at midday with visitors in St. Peter's Square, he also prayed that all Catholics would "embrace the spirit of this holy season, through prayer, fasting and almsgiving."

Congolese Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo of Kinshasa was chosen to preach the retreat Feb. 26-March 3 for Pope Benedict and top Vatican officials in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel inside the Apostolic Palace.

The cardinal's topic was to be "Communion of the Christian with God."

During the retreat period, the Ppope clears his calendar of public events, including his weekly general audience.

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