New pope cites grandma's folk wisdom at his first Palm Sunday

Sun Mar 24, 2013 8:38am EDT
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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The new pope began Holy Week on Sunday with a sermon invoking the folk wisdom of his grandmother, further emphasizing a new-look papacy that aims to be closer to the people.

Leading his first major service since his election, Pope Francis addressed a vast crowd gathered for Palm Sunday with simple language, urging them to shun corruption and greed and reach out to "the humble, the poor, the forgotten".

Departing from his prepared text and referring to wealth, he said: "You can't take it with you, my grandmother used to say".

Since his election on March 13, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina has broken with the more esoteric and, some would say, ostentatious style of his predecessor Benedict, saying he wants to move the Church closer to the poor and suffering.

"Let us look around: how many wounds are inflicted upon humanity by evil! Wars, violence, economic conflicts that hit the weakest, greed for money, power, corruption, divisions, crimes against human life and against creation," he said.

Francis has decided to hold Holy Thursday service this week in a juvenile jail on Rome's outskirts rather than in the Vatican or in a Rome Basilica, where it has been held by all his predecessor in living memory.

He has also invited simple workers, such as the Vatican gardeners and street cleaners, to attend his morning Masses in the Vatican hotel where is still living ahead of moving into the papal apartments in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace.

The service before some 250,000 people waving palm and olive branches in St. Peter's Square gave the new pope another opportunity to stress that he wants a Catholic Church that has been riven by scandal to be more austere and just.   Continued...

Pope Francis (R) attends the Palm Sunday mass at Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican March 24, 2013. REUTERS/Max Rossi