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March 4, 2021
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Francis I, the first American Pope begins his papacy with humility

He will be installed officially in an inauguration Mass next Tuesday.

Pope Francis I has spent his first day at the helm of the Catholic Church meeting the people of Rome ahead of a Sistine Chapel Mass with cardinals later, the BBC reports. After private prayers at the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, he crossed the road to a local school to meet children and commuters heading to work. The Pope later went to the priests’ residence in Piazza Navona to pick up his belongings and pay his bill. He will also start the process of appointing senior staff at the Vatican. As the first Latin American – and the first Jesuit – pope, Francis has received a flood of goodwill messages from around the world. But the 76-year-old Argentine, formerly Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, also faces a series of tough challenges.

On Wednesday night, Pope Francis endeared himself to the crowds in St Peter’s Square – and underlined his reputation for humility – when he asked them to bless him before blessing them in return from the balcony of the basilica. The Vatican’s account of his first hours in the top job also emphasised Pope Francis’s humility, describing how he shunned a special car and security detail provided to take him to the Vatican and travelled on a bus with the other cardinals. Following his first outing as pope to the Rome basilica on Thursday, Francis went back to the clergy house in a city centre side street where he had been staying ahead of the conclave that elected him on Wednesday. “He packed his bags and then he went to pay the bill for his room so as to set a good example,” said Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi. He also broke tradition by remaining standing to receive cardinals’ acts of homage after his election, instead of sitting in the papal throne, Lombardi said.

Pope Francis returned to the Sistine Chapel on Thursday afternoon, scene of his election, to celebrate Mass with the cardinals. Today, he will meet all the cardinals, including those aged over 80 who did not take part in the conclave.On Saturday he will meet the world’s media at a special papal audience, an opportunity perhaps to set out some of his global vision. A visit to his predecessor Benedict XVI at his retreat at Castel Gandolfo outside Rome is also planned, but will not take place for the “next few days”, Lombardi said.

Patriarch Daniel, PM sent congratulation messages

Daniel, the Romanian Patriarch of the Orthodox Church sent a congratulation letter to the new Pope, inviting him to work together and give a testimony of solidarity with those who are suffering in the world. Premier Victor Ponta congratulated the Roman and Greek Catholics on the occasion, saying the election of Francis I is ‘an extraodinary sign for the entire Christian community worldwide.

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