Francis’ first day; a new style of papacy

In less than 24 hours after he became the first non-European pope in some 1,300 years, Pope Francis seemed to break more rules than his predecessor did in eight years.

“We are going to have to get used to a new way of doing things,” said Father Tom Rosica, a Vatican Spokesman said.

On the morning after his election, the Vatican was scrambling to meet the needs of a new-style papacy.

Speaking to CNS about his experience in the Conclave, New York Cardinal, Timothy Dolan said after Pope Francis was elected and put on his papal vestments, Pope Francis did not choose to sit on a special white chair that had been set up for him on an elevated platform. Instead “he looked at and said ‘I’ll stay down here,’ so he met with each us on our own level,” Cardinal Dolan said.

Dolan also said the pope’s habit of taking the bus apparently was not easy to break.

After Pope Francis greeted the crowds in the square, he and the cardinals left the apostolic palace to return to their lodgings at Domus Sanctae Marthae. But, instead of getting in the papal car that was waiting for him, the pope took one of the mini-buses with the rest of the cardinals.

“I guess he told the driver, ‘That’s ok I’ll just go with the guys on the bus,'” Cardinal Dolan said.

Francis’ simplicity and sense of humor were apparent when the pope asked the cardinals to join him in a meal together.

“We toasted him and then he toasted us and he said, ‘May God forgive you'” for having elected him pope, which “brought the house down” with laughter, said Dolan.

The only difference between him and the cardinals was that he was no longer wearing their red robes, but white, he said.

There was more unexpected papal behaviour on the morning after his election when Francis asked a driver to take him to the clerics’ hotel, the Domus Internationalis Paulus VI, where he had stayed during the run-up to this week’s secret electoral conclave.

“He wanted to get his luggage and the bags. He had left everything there,” a Vatican spokesman told a news briefing.

“He then stopped in the office, greeted everyone and decided to pay the bill for the room … because he was concerned about giving a good example of what priests and bishops should do.”

The break from recent tradition was was also evident in Francis’ wardrobe choices.

When presented to the 100,000 strong crowd in St Peter’s Square, he was wearing  the simple pectoral cross of his days as bishop and did not use the red cape, choosing instead the simple white cassock of the papacy.

“It seems to me for now what is certain is it’s a great change of style, which for us isn’t a small thing,” Bergoglio’s official biographer Sergio Rubin said.

Recalling how the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio would celebrate Masses with ex-prostitutes in Buenos Aires.

“He believes the church has to go to the streets,” he said, “to express this closeness of the church and this accompaniment with the people who suffer.”

Francis however, also began his first day as pope making an early morning visit in a simple Vatican car to a Roman basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary and prayed before an icon of the Madonna.

Just after his election, he had told a packed in, rain-soaked crowd in St Peter’s Square that he intended to pray to the Mary “that she may watch over all of Rome.”

Perhaps his first day as pope can be summarised by Joseph Kelly on Twitter. “Pope Francis started his day by praying to Our Blessed Lady, then paid his bills. I can relate to that.”


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