Pope Francis to meet with Pope Emeritus Benedict

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March 14, 2013, 4:44 pm
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(NECN/NBC News: Jay Gray) - The transition has begun at the Vatican. Pope Francis has finished his first full day as the new leader of the Catholic Church.

It was a busy first day for Pope Francis, draped in tradition but with clear indications that he intends to push for change within the church.

Pope Francis began the first morning of his papacy in prayer, forgoing the ornate vestments of his predecessor for the simple wooden cross he wore as a bishop and plain white cassock. These are outward signs, many say, of change.

"Greater accountability, greater transparency, some personnel changes and addressing the corruption in the curia. I think that's the immediate practical task this pope will take on," said Father Robert Barron, rector of Mundelein Seminary.

Thursday afternoon, Pope Francis returned to the Sistine Chapel, celebrating his first mass as pontiff with the cardinals who elected him fewer than 24 hours earlier.

During his homily, the Pope urged his church to stay true to its roots, shun modern temptation and stay focused on the gospel of Christ

"Pope Francis will certainly do that and he will do it with his own approach, his own style," said Cardinal Thomas Christopher, Archbishop of Toronto.

The change is already apparent in shops that line the Vatican. The new pope's image is on souvenirs.

"We came to purchase some photos of him, we are planning to send the pictures to our parents," said tourist Zolta Brizar.

Others are clinging to the images of the white smoke and the night Pope Francis was introduced to the world.

"It struck us that there will be many, many people on this earth that will never have this opportunity. Our granddaughter's here with us. We could not impress enough upon her what was taking place at this time and how rare it was," said Tracy Gallimore from Houston, Texas.

It was a moment in history for a man, who many hope, now begins his own legacy of change.

Initially, Pope Francis had planned to visit with Pope Emeritus Benedict Thursday but there was no time in his schedule. The Vatican now says that meeting will happen in the coming days.

Tags: Vatican, Mass, Jay Gray, NBC News, Pope Emeritus Benedict, sistine chapel, Pope Francis, tracy gallimore, zolta brizar, cardinal thomas christopher, father robert barron
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