March 5, 2012

Pope Benedict 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.