Pope Francis Delivers Informal Homily In First Mass As Pontiff
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VATICAN CITY (CBSNewYork/AP) – In his first Mass as pope, Francis showed how different he would be as a pastor, giving an off-the-cuff homily about the need to walk with God, build up his church and confess and at one point, referring to children building sand castles on the beach.
It was a far simpler message than the dense, three-page discourse Benedict delivered in Latin during his first Mass as pope in 2005.
The break from the tradition-minded previous pontificate was evident even in Francis’ wardrobe choices: He kept the simple pectoral cross of his days as bishop and eschewed the red cape that Benedict XVI wore when he was presented to the world for the first time, choosing instead the simple white cassock of the papacy.
Francis began his first day as pope making an early morning visit in a simple Vatican car to a Roman basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary and prayed before an icon of the Madonna.
He had told a crowd of some 100,000 people packed in rain-soaked St. Peter’s Square just after his election that he intended to pray to the Madonna “that she may watch over all of Rome.”
The main item on Francis’ agenda Thursday was his inaugural afternoon Mass in the Sistine Chapel, where cardinals elected him leader of the 1.2 billion-strong church in an unusually quick conclave.
At the start of the Mass, Francis exchanged words with Monsignor Guido Marini, the Vatican’s master of liturgical ceremonies who under Benedict ushered in a far more traditional style of liturgy, heavy on Gregorian chant, Latin and the silk-brocaded vestments of the pre-Vatican II church.
Vatican officials confirmed reports that Marini was somewhat put off by Francis’ refusal Wednesday night to wear the formal papal red cape when he emerged on the loggia overlooking St. Peter’s Square to be introduced to the crowd. Benedict was known to favor many of the trappings of the papacy, including the elaborate vestments and ceremonial gear used by popes past.
Francis, the first Jesuit pope and first non-European since the Middle Ages, decided to call himself Francis after St. Francis of Assisi, the humble friar who dedicated his life to helping the poor.
“Some have said that Pope Francis has the mind of a Benedict and the heart of John Paul II,” New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan said Thursday on “CBS This Morning.”
The new pope, known for his work with the poor in Buenos Aires’ slums, immediately charmed the crowd in St. Peter’s, which roared when his name was announced and roared again when he emerged on the loggia of the basilica with a simple and familiar: “Brothers and sisters, good evening.”
Waving shyly, he said the cardinals’ job was to find a bishop of Rome. “It seems as if my brother cardinals went to find him from the end of the earth, but here we are. Thank you for the welcome.”
The 76-year-old Bergoglio, said to have finished second when Pope Benedict XVI was elected in 2005, was chosen on just the fifth ballot to replace the first pontiff to resign in 600 years.
Dolan said the former archbishop of Buenos Aires was the perfect man for the job.
“You want a man of God, you want a man of good pastoral governance, you want a man with a sense of the church universal, you want a good communicator and he fills those bills,” said Dolan.
After his visit to the Roman basilica, Francis stopped by a Vatican-owned residence in downtown Rome to pick up the luggage that he left behind, pay the bill and greet staff.
“He was concerned about giving a good example of what priests and bishops should do,” said Vatican spokesman Father Thomas Rosica.
The Rev. Pawel Rytel-Andrianek, who is staying at the residence, said Francis thanked the whole staff “one by one.”
It was a remarkable show of simplicity and humility for a man who could easily have dispatched someone to do the job for him.
He displayed that same sense immediately after his election, shunning the special sedan that was to transport him to the hotel so he could ride on the bus with other cardinals, and refusing even an elevated platform from which he would greet them, according to Dolan.
“He met with us on our own level,” Dolan said.
According to Dolan, the new pope addressed a few words to the cardinals during dinner.
“We had a very friendly fraternal meal…and we gave him a toast to express our love and then he lifted his glass and said ‘I hope you had a good night’s sleep, you deserve it and secondly I toast you and may God forgive you.’ It brought the house down,” Dolan said with a laugh.
Pope Francis is known as an intellectual with a practical approach to poverty and considers social outreach, rather than doctrinal battles, to be the essential business of the church. He urged Argentinians who wanted to fly Rome to celebrate to save that money and give it to the poor.
Latin America is home to 40 percent of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. On Wednesday, drivers honked their horns in the streets of Buenos Aires and television announcers screamed with elation at the news.
Dolan called Francis’ election “a real blessing” for the Americas.
“We have a lot of good gravy with a man coming out of Latin America,” he said.
Dolan’s name came up repeatedly as a possible contender to head the church, but Dolan said he never took that seriously.
Francis has been receiving guests at his temporary residence in the Santa Marta. Later Thursday, he will remove the seals from the papal apartment so it can be prepared for him over the next few days.
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