Pope poses for ‘selfies’ after Palm Sunday homily

Pope Francis, marking Palm Sunday in a packed St Peter’s Square, ignored his prepared homily and spoke entirely off-the-cuff in a remarkable departure from practice.

Pope poses for ‘selfies’ after Palm Sunday homily

Later, he hopped off his Popemobile to pose for selfies with young people in the crowd.

In his homily, Francis called on people, himself included, to look into their own hearts to see how they are living their lives.

“Has my life fallen asleep,” Francis asked after listening to a Gospel account of how Jesus’s disciples fell asleep shortly before he was betrayed by Judas before his crucifixion.

“Am I like Pontius Pilate, who, when he sees the situation is difficult, washes my hands?”

He sounded tired, frequently pausing to catch his breath, as he spoke for about 15 minutes in his homily during Palm Sunday Mass, which solemnly opens Holy Week for the Roman Catholic Church.

“Where is my heart?” the Pope asked, pinpointing that as the “question which accompanies us” throughout Holy Week.

Francis seemed to regain his wind after the two-and-a-half-hour ceremony. He shed his red vestments atop his plain white cassock, chatted amiably with cardinals dressed more formally. Then he posed for selfies with young people from Rio de Janeiro who had carried a large cross in the square.

He had barely climbed aboard his open-topped Popemobile when he spotted Polish youths clamouring for a selfie with a pope, and he hopped off to oblige them.

In a crowd of around 100,000 Romans, tourists, and pilgrims, people clutched olive tree branches, tall palm fronds, or tiny braided palm leaves shaped like crosses that were blessed by Francis at the start of the ceremony.

Holy Week culminates on Sunday with Easter Mass, also in St Peter’s Square. Many faithful will remain in Rome, while others will pour into the city for the April 27 canonisation of two popes, John Paul II and John XXIII.

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