Pope greets crowds in Vatican sidestreet

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07:03 PM March 17th, 2013

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March 17th, 2013 07:03 PM

Pope Francis AFP

VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis on Sunday grabbed an opportunity to shake hands with well-wishers, plunging into crowds pushing against barricades outside a Vatican gate as security men and Swiss Guards stood nervously by.

Chanting “Viva Il Papa” and calling his name, the well-wishers jostled to greet the first Latin American pope who was elected to general surprise last Wednesday.

The crowds had gathered near a Vatican church where Francis had celebrated mass ahead of his first Angelus prayer before an expected 200,000 faithful.

After the mass, the new pontiff who has projected a common touch by breaking with many formal traditions since his election, greeted worshippers leaving the church, pausing to converse with several of them and taking time to kiss children.

Francis, the former Argentinian cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was to make his first appearance in a window of the papal apartments at noon (1100 GMT).

The traditional Angelus prayer is to be followed by remarks expected to touch on international issues.

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