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Pope seeks prayers, strength ahead of anniversary

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI has asked for prayers and for the strength to carry on as he marks his seventh anniversary as pope this week.

Benedict made the comments to thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his traditional Sunday blessing.

Speaking in French, Benedict said: "Next Thursday, on the occasion of the seventh anniversary of my election to the See of Peter, I ask for your prayers, so that the Lord gives me the strength to fulfill the mission he entrusted to me."

In addition to the anniversary, Benedict marks another milestone this week: his 85th birthday Monday. Benedict plans to celebrate with his older brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, who flew in from Germany over the weekend.

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