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

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Faminei
X
Daniel Schearf
November 23, 2014 4:32 PM
During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video Law Enforcement, Activists in Ferguson Agree to Keep Peace

Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, say they have agreed with protest leaders to maintain peace when a grand jury reaches its decision on whether to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of a black teenager. Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, has been the scene of intermittent violence since the August 9 shooting intensified long-simmering antagonism between the police and the African-American community. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid