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MPs call for Parliament to congratulate Pope Francis on his 80th birthday

Pope Francis places a candle on a birthday cake bearing his coat of arms during lunch with the poor at the Mensa di San Francesco Poverino, a charity centre run by Caritas, in Florence (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano, handout)

A cross-party group of MPs has tabled a motion calling for the House of Commons to congratulate Pope Francis on his 80th birthday.

The motion was tabled by Labour MP Robert Flello and has been signed by nine MPs so far.

The signatories include Christopher Stephens of the SNP, two Conservatives, Edward Leigh and Peter Bottomley, and six MPs from the Labour party.

The motion reads: “That this House congratulates His Holiness Pope Francis on his 80th birthday; recognises his spiritual leadership of over 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide; commends his leading contribution to tackling climate change, promoting sustainable development, welcoming refugees, building peace, encouraging prison reform, protecting religious freedom, and advancing global abolition of the death penalty; and wishes him well for his continued pontificate.”

Pope Francis will turn 80 on December 17.