WASHINGTON - After two joyful stints on the popemobile and a visit to the White House, Pope Benedict XVI's 81st birthday took a mostly serious turn this evening when he delivered a wide-ranging speech to American bishops that touched on religious fervor, Catholics who don't follow church doctrine, and the shortage of priests.
"America is...a land of great faith," Benedict said at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, repeating what has been a common theme thus far in his first trip to the U.S. as pope. "Your people are remarkable for their religious fervor and they take pride in belonging to a worshiping community.
"They have confidence in God, and they do not hesitate to bring moral arguments rooted in biblical faith into their public discourse."
The pope was introduced by Cardinal Francis George of Chicago
The photo, earlier in the day, shows Pope Benedict XVI blowing out a candle on a birthday cake presented to him at the White House for his 81t birtdhay which took place on the second day of his U.S. visit and was marked with several celebrations.
(Alessia Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo)