Pope Benedict XVI asked the faithful during a general audience Wednesday to bear with his hoarse voice. The thousands who packed into the Vatican's Paul VI Hall for the pope's first weekly audience of the year cheered and applauded when he joked that "unfortunately I have no voice but I hope I will be able to make myself understood."
The pope them thanked them for their "patience." A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, said Benedict's voice was affected by Rome's cold and damp weather, and that his health was fine.
Benedict kept a busy schedule over the Christmas period, leading several ceremonies and giving blessings.