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Pope poses for 'selfies' after Palm Sunday homily

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Francis, marking Palm Sunday in a packed St. Peter's Square, ignored his prepared homily and spoke entirely off-the-cuff in a remarkable departure from practice. Later, he continued to stray from the script by hopping off his popemobile to pose for "selfies" with young people and also sipping tea passed to him from the crowd.

In his homily, Francis called on people, himself included, to look into their own hearts to see how they are living their lives.

"Has my life fallen asleep?" Francis asked after listening to a Gospel account of how Jesus' disciples fell asleep shortly before he was betrayed by Judas before his crucifixion.

"Am I like Pontius Pilate, who, when he sees the situation is difficult, washes my hands?"

He sounded tired, frequently pausing to catch his breath, as he spoke for about 15 minutes in his homily during Palm Sunday Mass, which solemnly opens Holy Week for the Roman Catholic Church.

"Where is my heart?" the pope asked, pinpointing that as the "question which accompanies us" throughout Holy Week.

Francis seemed to regain his wind after the 2 ½ hour ceremony. He shed his red vestments atop his plain white cassock, chatted amiably with cardinals dressed more formally than he at that point. Then he posed for "selfies" with young people from Rio de Janeiro who had carried a large cross in the square.

He had barely climbed aboard his open-topped popemobile when he spotted Polish youths. They, too, were clamoring for a "selfie" with a pope, and he hopped off, not even waiting for the vehicle to fully stop, to oblige them. In another moment in the pope's long tour of the square, the Vatican's security chief poured herbal mate tea from a thermos, thrust toward the pontiff by someone in the crowd, into a mate cup, also held out by an admirer, and passed the cup to Francis for a sip.

In a crowd of around 100,000 Romans, tourists and pilgrims, people clutched olive tree branches, tall palm fronds or tiny braided palm leaves shaped like crosses that were blessed by Francis at the start of the ceremony.

Francis used a wooden pastoral staff carved by Italian prison inmates, who donated it to him. The pope wants to put people on the margins of life at the center of the church's attention.

Francis wore red vestments, symbolizing blood shed by the crucified Jesus.

Holy Week culminates next Sunday with Easter Mass, also in St. Peter's Square. Many faithful will remain in Rome, while others will pour into the city for the April 27 canonization of two popes, John Paul II and John XXIII. Francis noted that John Paul's long-time aide, now Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, Poland, had come to Rome.

Francis noted he'll be making a pilgrimage to South Korea this summer, with the key event being an Asian youth gathering on Aug. 15 in Daejeon.


Follow Frances D'Emilio on twitter at www.twitter.com/fdemilio

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Britaroo April 13 2014 at 3:40 PM

happy palum sunday

Flag Reply +1 rate up
jpiscioner April 13 2014 at 4:21 PM

Just an incredible man he shares his love of God to the people

Flag Reply +14 rate up
lizgonzales8186 April 13 2014 at 4:21 PM

This wonderful man of humility and love for all of humanity speaks the way that Jesus taught. No, I am not saying he is Jesus, rather, he is interpreting the words and actions of Jesus to give us a wake up call. There is nothing wrong with doing some internal soul cleansing. That's what Holy Week is all about, reflection. We may not like what we see but we can change.

Flag Reply +17 rate up
nanhab4 April 13 2014 at 4:22 PM

We have been waiting for a Pope Francis! A man who goes to the hearts of humanity and touches lives. The people of God are being transformed by this Pope

Long live Pope Francis !!

Flag Reply +13 rate up
DCSCicchitano April 13 2014 at 9:51 PM

Viva la Pappa!!

Flag Reply +13 rate up
jwkitchensfl1 April 13 2014 at 4:22 PM

I like this man. He leads by example.

Flag Reply +21 rate up
1 reply
Delores jwkitchensfl1 April 13 2014 at 7:15 PM

Jesus said," I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the father EXCEPT through me.
JESUS IS THE ONLY WAY. He that believes on me hath everlasting life. PRAISE HIS HOLY NAME.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
nama804 April 13 2014 at 4:26 PM

Thank You Jesus for dying for Me . That I may be free . You are My Temple and I am Your

Temple . You live in me and I live in You . Touch all the people Lord and bring them to Jesus

to be saved .

Flag Reply +9 rate up
Velocity105 April 13 2014 at 4:26 PM

This guy is unreal. He is singlehandedly changing the course of the church and the lives of billions simply by being humble and engaging. Not to mention his personally taking responsibility for the sins of his pastors. He is probably the first Pope in centuries to do the things he's doing. His shoes will be far too big for any Pope after him to fill.

Flag Reply +16 rate up
1 reply
david.konen Velocity105 April 13 2014 at 4:36 PM

Oh, well! Should we have a NEW pope after Francis, I DOUBT this one might be as accepting as Francis has been.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
twodogdayinc April 13 2014 at 4:27 PM

he is amazing...of course, he is! he's a Jesuit!!!

Flag Reply +13 rate up
1 reply
Joy twodogdayinc April 13 2014 at 4:33 PM

Yet he seems to align more with the Franciscans, including calling himself Francis.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
komacubbyfan April 13 2014 at 4:28 PM

Amen, My friend.

Flag Reply +10 rate up
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