Pope Francis greets public, goes off script

Pontiff talks about mercy, uses humor in appearances

Posted: March 18, 2013 at 1:11 a.m.

Pope Francis greets the faithful at the Vatican on Sunday. Francis began his first Sunday as pontiff by making an impromptu appearance to the public from a side gate of the Vatican, startling passers-by and prompting cheers.

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 Sunday.

Pope wades into crowd before window debut

Breaking with tradition, Pope Francis delivered off-the-cuff remarks about God's power to forgive instead of reading from a written speech for the first Sunday window appearance of his papacy. (By The Associated Press)
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Pope Francis greets a priest at a side gate of the Vatican on Sunday.

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Front Section, Pages 1 on 03/18/2013