VATICAN CITY (AP) - Walking up to crowds, shaking hands with
surprised bystanders in the street, mixing his formal speeches with
off-the-cuff remarks, Pope Francis stamped his own style on the papacy
His humor and down-to-earth manner captivated those
filling St. Peter's Square in Rome to overflowing, and he worked the
crowd in a way that had to give his security staff palpitations. Rome
Mayor Gianni Alemanno, in the square himself, estimated the crowd's size
"Brothers and sisters, 'Buon giorno,'" Francis said
in Italian in his first welcome from the window of the papal residence,
setting an informal tone that has become the defining spirit of his
Earlier Sunday, he made an impromptu appearance
before the public from a side gate of the Vatican that startled
passers-by and prompted cheers as he shook hands and kissed babies.
Francis had just finished celebrating Mass and delivering a six-minute
homily - brief by church standards - in the Vatican's tiny parish
church, St. Anna, when he walked outside to greet parishioners one by
one, just as an ordinary pastor does after weekly services.
Francis started speaking at the window even before
the stroke of noon - the appointed time for the weekly papal address.
The windows of the papal study in the Apostolic Palace were opened for
the first time since Francis' predecessor, Benedict XVI, gave his last
Sunday blessing on Feb. 24. Four days later, Benedict went into
retirement, the first pontiff to do so in nearly 600 years.
Francis, the first pope from Latin America, was
elected Wednesday and has been staying in a hotel on the Vatican's
premises until the papal apartment is ready.
"The pope is down-to-earth. He is a people person
and it is amazing," said Emanuel Anatsui from Britain. "He is going to
do wonderfully for the church."
After Mass, Francis again put his security detail
to the test as he waded into an intersection just outside St. Anna's
Gate. Francis stepped up to the crowd, grasping outstretched hands. The
atmosphere was so casual that several people even gripped Francis on the
"Francesco! Francesco!" children shouted his name
in Italian. As he patted one little boy on the head, he asked "Are you a
good boy?" and the child nodded.
"Are you sure?" the pope quipped.
At one point he glanced at his watch and turned to an aide - as if to ask "How much time do I have?"
The pope then ducked back inside the Vatican's boundaries to dash upstairs for the address to St. Peter's Square.
Often abandoning the prepared text in his hand,
Francis told the crowd that he wanted to talk about mercy, saying he was
inspired by a book about forgiveness that he was reading. Citing the
author, an elderly German cardinal, and praising him as a "top-notch"
theologian, Francis quipped: "Don't think I'm making publicity for my
cardinals' books!" drawing a roar of laughter from the crowd.
Francis said mercy can "change the world" and make it "less cold and more just."
He spoke only in Italian - ending with "Buon
pranzo" (Have a good lunch) - a wish that triggered nods of approval
from the crowd in Rome, where a leisurely Sunday family lunch is a
But Francis did tweet in English and other
languages, saying: "Dear friends, I thank you from my heart and I ask
you to continue to pray for me.'"
Past pontiffs have used the Sunday window greetings to offer brief reflections and wishes in several languages.
Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said
Francis would likely stick with Italian, a language he's comfortable
with for spontaneous remarks. Lombardi left open the possibility the
76-year-old pope would use other languages in future public appearances.
During his window speech, Francis also talked about
of his family's roots in Italy's northwestern Piedmont region. He told
the crowd that by naming himself as pope after St. Francis of Assisi, an
Italian patron saint, he was "strengthening my spiritual tie with this
land, where, as you know, my family has its origins."
The crowd was cheering wildly when Francis appeared
at the window, but fell into rapt silence when he began to speak. Some
people's eyes welled up. Many people waved the blue-and-white flag of
Argentina, the pope's homeland. Some people held their children aloft or
on their shoulders to get a better look.
"We are so proud. He is Argentine, but also belongs to the rest of the world," said Ivana Cabello, 23, of Argentina.
Angela Carreon, a 41-year-old Rome resident originally from the Philippines, ventured that Francis "looks like John Paul II. "
"I hope he is like him," she said. "He has a heart."
The globe-trotting Polish-born John Paul II, who died in 2005, loved to charm the crowds.
Several hundred extra traffic police were deployed
Sunday to control crowds and vehicles for Francis' first window speech
as well as the annual Rome marathon. Bus routes were rerouted and many
streets were closed off to channel the curious and the faithful up the
main boulevard from the Tiber river to St. Peter's Square.
Giant video screens were set up so the huge crowd
could get a close look at Francis, and dozens of medical teams were on
hand for any emergencies. In the last hour before noon, a large backup
formed of people trying to squeeze through three openings in the fence
ringing the front of the square. But by the time Francis appeared, all
had calmly found a viewing spot.
Among Francis' first formal meetings is an
appointment Monday with Argentine President Cristina Fernandez. That
will provide an opportunity to see if the new pope's easygoing manner
still holds - the two have been on opposite sides for many years. As
Buenos Aires archbishop, Francis had lobbied hard against the
government's move to legalize gay marriage and make contraceptives
available for free.
On Tuesday, Fernandez will join other world leaders
and senior international envoys, including U.S. Vice President Joe
Biden and the president of Jesuit-run Georgetown University, for
Francis' formal installation as pope.
Saturday, May 18 2013 2:31 PM EDT2013-05-18 18:31:56 GMT
A Waterville man is in the hospital this morning after an early morning home invasion. Lucas County Sheriff's deputies got the call of an home invasion in the 8900 block of S. River Road in WatervilleMore >>
34-year-old James Safadi of Waterville Township is dead being shot during a home invasion early Saturday morning. More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 4:36 PM EDT2013-05-18 20:36:23 GMT
The Milan Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol is investigating a two-vehicle crash on the Turnpike near the 88 milepost in Rice Township.The crash happened around 10:30 Saturday morning when a CadillacMore >>
The Milan Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol is investigating a two-vehicle crash on the Turnpike near the 88 milepost in Rice Township.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 4:19 PM EDT2013-05-18 20:19:21 GMT
DAMASCUS, Va. (AP) - Witnesses in southwestern Virginia say a car has driven into a crowd at a festival parade. Several people appeared to be hurt, but the nature of their injuries wasn't immediatelyMore >>
Witnesses in southwestern Virginia say a car has driven into a crowd at a festival parade. Several people appeared to be hurt, but the nature of their injuries wasn't immediately known.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 3:53 PM EDT2013-05-18 19:53:01 GMT
CLEVELAND (AP) - Cleveland has landed another Hollywood film shoot and it could mean delays for motorists. The city warned drivers to be aware of staggered street closings beginning Saturday through JuneMore >>
Cleveland has landed another Hollywood film shoot and it could mean delays for motorists.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 3:44 PM EDT2013-05-18 19:44:12 GMT
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) - It's a big day in northeast Ohio for a hometown guy who made it big in Hollywood. Actor Ed O'Neill of TV's "Modern Family" will receive an honorary Doctor of Arts degree at Saturday'sMore >>
Actor Ed O'Neill of TV's "Modern Family" will receive an honorary Doctor of Arts degree at Saturday's spring commencement at Youngstown State University.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 3:28 PM EDT2013-05-18 19:28:55 GMT
An overnight fire destroyed a vacant church early Saturday.Crews responded to a blaze near the 400 block of Pulaski and Hamilton to find flames shooting out of the sides of the church. They attempted fightMore >>
An overnight fire destroyed a vacant church early Saturday near the 400 block of Pulaski and Hamilton.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 3:18 PM EDT2013-05-18 19:18:45 GMT
With its ranks deeply divided, the Boy Scouts of America is asking its local leaders from across the country to decide whether its contentious membership policy should be overhauled so that openly gayMore >>
The Boy Scouts of America is asking its local leaders from across the country to decide whether its contentious membership policy should be overhauled so that openly gay boys can participate in Scout units.More >>
Friday, May 17 2013 11:06 PM EDT2013-05-18 03:06:39 GMT
The woman charged with shaking and injuring her infant son was back in court Friday, and angry protestors were there to greet her. Residents gathered outside the Wood County Common Pleas Court wearingMore >>
The woman charged with shaking and injuring her infant son was back in court Friday, and angry protestors were there to greet her.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 3:48 PM EDT2013-05-18 19:48:19 GMT
BOSTON (AP) - Federal prosecutors say they'll ask for more time to indict Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.Prosecutors said Friday they will not indict Tsranaev within the 30-day periodMore >>
Federal prosecutors say they'll ask for more time to indict Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 3:40 PM EDT2013-05-18 19:40:29 GMT
MOSCOW (AP) - Wrestling's governing body hopes rule changes designed to make matches more exciting and easier to understand will get the sport back in the Olympics. The federation, known by the acronymMore >>
Wrestling's governing body hopes rule changes designed to make matches more exciting and easier to understand will get the sport back in the Olympics.More >>