Vatican City, Mar 14, 2013 / 10:09 am
At the first press briefing of Pope Francis' pontificate, a more detailed picture of the new Church's leader and some things he will do differently began to emerge.
"The spontaneity that we saw at work last night and then again this morning indicates a new style of doing things," said Father Thomas Rosica, the English-language assistant for the Vatican press office, at a March 14 media gathering.
The first sign of the change was that Pope Francis individually received the congratulations of his fellow cardinals standing, instead of sitting in the papal throne.
But his simplicity was also apparent when he later appeared before the people in his papal attire.
Although he could have worn the gold pectoral cross usually worn by pontiffs, he chose to keep the cross from his time as Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires. As far as his papal vestments go, he wore a simple white cassock without the red, ermine-trimmed cape known as the mozzetta.
Fr. Lombardi said that Pope Francis chose his name after St. Francis of Assisi, which also invokes the simplicity and image of that saint.
The simplicity of his message to the city and world – called the Urbi et Orbi address – also stood out for beginning with the commonplace greeting of "good evening," its emphasis on his role as Bishop of Rome, and his request for the prayers of the people before he gave his blessing.
After he left the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis had an elegant car with the license plate "Stato Vaticano 1" waiting for him, but he declined it in favor of riding the last minibus back to Casa Santa Marta with his fellow bishops and cardinals.
Early on March 14 at around 8:00 a.m, Pope Francis arrived at Saint Mary Major Basilica to place his pontificate and the city of Rome under the protection of Mary.
He took a regular Vatican car with Archbishop Georg Gänswein and Father Leonardo Sapienza, according to Vatican press office director Father Federico Lombardi.
When he was asked if the Vatican's security forces were disturbed by the Pope spontaneously making unofficial trips, Fr. Lombardi replied, "the security forces are at the service of the Pope, not the other way around."
Fr. Rosica added, "we're going to get used to a new way of doing things. Remember John Paul II, how many rules he broke, in terms of going where he wished to go and doing things in his own way and his own style."
Pope Francis will be installed as Supreme Pontiff on March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph, at 9:30 a.m. in St. Peter's Square.