Thursday, March 14, 2013

Day 1 Agenda for Pope: Pray, Pack Bags and Pay Bill

VATICAN CITY — Displaying some of his signature distaste for the trappings of high office, Pope Francis, the former Cardinal  Jorge mario, began the first full day of his papacy on Thursday with private prayers at a Roman basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary, slipping quietly into the building by a side door and leaving some 30 minutes later to return to the Vatican.Without fanfare, he went on to the Domus Internationalis Paulus VI, the priests’ residence where he was staying before the conclave that anointed him as pope, picked up his baggage and insisted on paying his bill to set an example of priestly behavior in what some Vatican observers took as a token of a new humility and frugality, offsetting the more familiar opulence of the Vatican.
He showed the same spirit in private, according to the cardinals. Immediately after accepting the papacy and donning its white vestments, he spurned the throne on which a new pope sits and greets his fellow cardinals, preferring to remain standing.
Rather than taking the elevator down alone, “He said, ‘No, I am coming with you,’” said Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, the archbishop of Bordeaux. And rather than travel by the papal limousine to the Santa Marta residence where the cardinals were staying, he rode the bus with the other men.
At dinner, “He toasted us and he simply said, ‘May God forgive you,’ which brought the house down,” Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York said.
“I think this is the style of our new pope,” Cardinal Ricard said.While his precise schedule remained uncertain, Francis, an Argentine and the first non-European prelate to win the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church in 12 centuries, was expected to hold an inaugural Mass in the Sistine Chapel, where a majority of 115 cardinals voted him into office on Wednesday.
In his first public appearance on Wednesday before a huge crowd in St. Peter’s Square, Francis, 76, offered prayers for his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who last month became the first pope in centuries to retire, citing failing strength at the age of 85 after a papacy lasting almost eight years.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York said on Wednesday that Francis planned to visit Benedict at the papal summer retreat outside Rome, Castel Gandolfo, where the former pope — now pope emeritus — is living while an apartment is readied for him at a convent in Vatican City. The two men were also reported to have spoken by telephone.
The Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said on Thursday that Francis would not be visiting Benedict over the next two days, but planned to do so at some point.
On Thursday, Francis, the former archbishop of Buenos Aires, who is known as a warm, pastoral figure and a good communicator, prayed at the Marian shrine at the Basilica of St. Mary Major at 8 a.m.
He had already foreshadowed the visit when he spoke in fluent Italian to the crowd in St. Peter’s Square at dusk on Wednesday, saying that, as Bishop of Rome, “I wish to go and pray to Our Lady, that she may watch over all of Rome.”
Father Ludovico Melo, a priest who prayed with him on Thursday, told Reuters. “He spoke to us cordially, like a father. We were given 10 minutes’ advance notice that the pope was coming.”
Cardinal Bernard F. Law, who was at the center of major clerical sexual abuse scandal when he was archbishop of Boston a decade ago, sat nearby during the service at the basilica in his role as its emeritus archpriest.
Wearing simple white robes, Francis went by car to the basilica accompanied by Cardinal Camillo Ruini. Inside, he deposited flowers in the chapel of Salus Popoli Romani and prayed for about 10 minutes, Father Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said.
On Wednesday, Francis told the faithful that they were embarking with him on “a journey of fraternity, of love, of trust among us.”
 “Let us always pray for one another,” he said. “Let us pray for the whole world, that there may be a great spirit of fraternity.”
He bowed to the crowd after saying he was asking for a “favor” from the many people assembled before him. “I ask you to pray to the Lord that he will bless me: the prayer of the people asking the blessing for their bishop. Let us make, in silence, this prayer: your prayer over me,” he said.

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