Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pope Francis first public outing after his apperance on the balcony

Pope Francis, barely 12 hours after his election, quietly left the Vatican early on Thursday to pray for guidance at a Rome basilica as he looks to usher a Catholic Church mired in intrigue and scandal into a new age of simplicity and humility.

Francis went to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, the oldest church in the world dedicated to the Madonna, where he prayed before a famous icon of the Madonna called the Salus Populi Romani, or Protectress of the Roman People.
"He spoke to us cordially like a father," said Father Ludovico Melo, a priest who prayed with the pope. "We were given 10 minutes' advance notice that the pope was coming".
The first South American pontiff and the first non-European pope in 1,300 years, Francis is also bishop of Rome.
In his first words on Wednesday night he made clear that he would take that part of his role seriously and made good on the promise by visiting one of the capital's most important churches.
Later on Thursday he was to go to the papal summer retreat at Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, to meet Emeritus Pope Benedict, who last month became the first pontiff in 600 years to step down, saying he was too frail to tackle all the problems of the 1.2 billion-member Church.
"I ask a favor of you ... pray for me," he urged the cheering crowds, telling them the 114 other cardinal-electors "went almost to the end of the world" to find a new leader.
"Good night and have a good rest," Bergoglio said before disappearing back into the opulent surroundings of the Vatican City - a far cry from his simple apartment in Buenos Aires.
"Yesterday he transmitted such humility, love and brotherhood," said a woman outside the basilica on Thursday morning.
On Wednesday night, delighted priests, nuns and pilgrims danced around the obelisk in the middle of St. Peter's Square, chanting: "Long Live the Pope" and "Argentina, Argentina".
In his native Argentina, jubilant Catholics poured into their local churches to celebrate.
The Vatican said his inaugural Mass would be held on Tuesday. U.S. President Barack Obama said the election of Francis "speaks to the strength and vitality of a region that is increasingly shaping our world."


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