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Cigarette and a tipple allowed to relieve papal tension

The cardinals locked inside the Sistine Chapel for deep meditation and reflection until they choose a new pope can break off for a smoke or enjoy a glass of wine, the Vatican spokesman said on Wednesday. Federico Lombardi expressed the hope however that the 115 cardinals -- average age 72 -- who were spending a second day choosing a successor to the retired Benedict XVI would show restraint and not harm their health by chain-smoking.

'Poor man!' says new pope's sister

For a man who has embraced humility, the new pope's first moments in the spotlight must have come with mixed emotions, a fact perhaps best understood by the woman who has known him her whole life. "Poor man," sympathized Pope Francis' sister, Maria Elena Bergoglio, his only still-living sibling, as she imagined his thoughts just before walking out on the balcony before the massive crowd in Saint Peter's Square in his first appearance as the pontiff. And yet, "how exciting, to hear the crowd changing, 'Long live the pope!" she mused.

New pope must end Vatican leaks, says Austrian cardinal

By Keith Weir VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis must end the scandal of Church secrets being leaked to newspapers, Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn said on Thursday, underlining one of the challenges facing the new Roman Catholic leader. Pope Benedict, who stepped down last month, had to deal with the "Vatileaks" case in which his butler was convicted of stealing personal papal documents and passing them to the media.

By-the-book Vatican braces for unscripted papacy

By Philip Pullella VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican, an age-old institution used to having almost everything done by the book, is bracing for the unscripted papacy. In less than 24 hours after he became the first non-European pope in some 1,300 years, Francis seemed to break more rules than his predecessor did in eight years.

Pope Francis celebrates first mass since election

Pope Francis and the cardinals who made him the first Latin American leader of the Catholic Church returned to the Sistine Chapel on Thursday, this time to celebrate mass together. After a recitation of the Lord's Prayer, the famous chapel adorned with Michelangelo's frescoes began resounding with Latin song. The New Testament reading was from the Book of Matthew in which Christ says to Peter: "I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church." All the cardinals, as well as the new pope, wore simple light yellow robes over their cassocks.

Pope Francis celebrates first mass since election

Pope Francis celebrated his first mass as pontiff on Thursday, a day after his election as the first Latin American leader of the Catholic Church. The mass was held in the Sistine Chapel together with the cardinals who elected him on Wednesday. After a recitation of the Lord's Prayer, the famous chapel adorned with Michelangelo's frescoes began resounding with Latin song. All cardinals, including the new pope, wore simple light yellow robes over their cassocks. Francis was elected Wednesday by 114 fellow cardinals after two days of secret balloting in the chapel.

New pope pays homage to Virgin Mary on first outing

Pope Francis visited a Rome basilica in his first outing on Thursday as the new leader of the world's 1.2 billion-strong Catholic Church, entering discreetly through a side door before placing a bouquet of flowers in homage to the Virgin Mary. Dressed in the white papal vestments, Francis was driven to the basilica in a standard-issue Vatican car rather than the papal limousine, in keeping with early signs that the ascetic 76-year-old Argentinian will shun the perks of high office.

Italian bishops celebrate election of wrong pope

Italian bishops were red-faced Thursday after releasing a statement thanking God for the election of the archbishop of Milan to the papacy -- though the new pope's home bastion is quite a bit farther afield in Buenos Aires. Apparently ultra-confident that one of their own would snag the Vatican's top job as leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, the bishops expressed "joy and thanks" to God for the election of Cardinal Angelo Scola.

New pope shuns 'Vatican One' limo

Newly-elected Pope Francis shunned the special chauffeur-driven "Vatican One" limousine after being picked as pontiff, the Vatican said on Thursday. "Instead of the formal Vatican One car he preferred to take the minibus with the other cardinals," Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said. The new pope then dined with the cardinals in a Vatican residence where he thanked them for electing him but then quipped: "God forgive you for what you've done!"

Francis embarks on ground-breaking papacy

Pope Francis embarked Thursday on a ground-breaking papacy as the first Latin American leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics and a Church in turmoil. Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, the humble 76-year-old son of a railwayman, kicked off his first full day as pontiff with private prayers at a Rome basilica.
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