News / Europe

Francis Delights Pilgrims with Informal 1st Sunday Address

Pope Francis greets faithful at the Vatican, March 17, 2013.
Pope Francis greets faithful at the Vatican, March 17, 2013.
Al Pessin
Pope Francis walked among the people of Rome like a local priest and then spoke to tens of thousands from his window on the first Sunday since he was elected to lead the world's 1.2-billion Roman Catholics.  

The pontiff offered a simple “good morning” to what he called his “brothers and sisters” packed into St. Peter's Square and the surrounding streets.  He appeared on a small balcony high above the square, attached to his official apartment.  Far below was a happy crowd, many people waving banners and flags, especially the blue, white and yellow flag of his home country, Argentina.

The pope preached a short homily about forgiveness to the cheers and adoring gazes of the faithful.  He got a laugh when he said that thanks to the media, the square was “the size of the world.”

People on the square were thrilled to have the chance to see the new pope, who, four days into his papacy, has already established a reputation for having the common touch.

FEDERICA, from Italy: “It was an amazing day and an amazing man, I think.  I think that he is a man that is real near to the people.  So, I am really happy and I hope that he can change something in this world.”

DENEYS, from South Africa: “I was completely overwhelmed and completely charmed by what he had to say, as I think everybody was.  It was just fantastic.”

Earlier, Pope Francis surprised his security guards by stepping outside the Vatican to greet people on a street corner, shaking hands and kissing babies.  Then he went into a small church on the Vatican grounds to lead mass, greeting parishioners as they left, like a local priest would do.

The pope also sent out his first Twitter message, offering thanks and asking people to pray for him.  He signed it simply, “Pope Francis.”

The former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina has been riding a wave of enthusiasm since his fellow cardinals elected him in a surprise move Wednesday evening.  But he has a lot of work to do, cleaning up a scandal in the Vatican bureaucracy involving finances and charges of sexual blackmail by power-hungry factions, and scandals over sexual abuse by priests in several parts of the world.

He has not said anything about those issues directly, but Sunday's homily about mercy and forgiveness may give a clue about his thinking.  He said God's capacity for forgiveness is endless, and people should not stop asking for it.

The pope's next major event is his installation mass in front of another huge crowd Tuesday on St. Peter's Square, this time including world leaders.

He ended Sunday's audience with greetings and blessings, but unlike his recent predecessors he did not speak in any language other than Italian.  He concluded with a simple farewell.  

The pope said, “Have a good Sunday, and a good lunch.”  Then he waved and disappeared back into the building.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid