POPE Francis has marked Palm Sunday in a packed St Peter’s Square by discarding his prepared homily and speaking entirely off the cuff.
The Pope followed his remarkable departure from practice by hopping off his popemobile to pose for “selfies” with young people in the 100,000-strong crowd. In his homily, Pope 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?” he asked, after listening to a Gospel account of how Jesus’ 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?”
The Pope sounded tired, frequently pausing to catch his breath, as he spoke for about 15 minutes during Palm Sunday Mass, which opens Holy Week for the Roman Catholic Church.
Pope Francis seemed to regain his wind after the two-and-a-half hour ceremony. He shed his red vestments and chatted amiably with cardinals, who were dressed more formally than he at that point. 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 some Polish youths who were also clamouring for a “selfie” with him, and he hopped off to oblige them.