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

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid