Biden, world leaders gather in Rome for pope's inaugural mass

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March 18, 2013, 6:07 am
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(NECN/NBC News: Jay Gray) – Vice President Joe Biden is joining leaders from around the world, traveling to Rome on the eve of the inaugural mass for newly elected Pope Francis. It comes on the heels of the Pope's first Sunday blessing in a packed St. Peter's Square.

Hundreds of thousands will join in the celebration Tuesday, a traditional sacrament of the Catholic faith, as Pope Francis continues to show he is anything but a traditional pontiff.
Vice President Biden is in Italy Monday morning, leading a U.S. delegation attending the inauguration of Pope Francis at the Vatican on Tuesday.

Leaders from around the world are gathering in Rome, including Argentinean President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner who will meet with Francis later Monday.

As the bishop of Buenos Aires, the two leaders have had a contentious relationship at times, especially over the issue of same-sex marriage, which Fernandez's government legalized in 2010. At the time, then Cardinal Burgoglio called the decision an "aspiration to destroy God's plan."

There has been no friction for the new pontiff in the early days of his papacy.

More than 150,000 spilled out of St. Peter's Square Sunday for his first angelus or Sunday prayer and blessing. In his now familiar, casual style, Francis joked with the crowd, then prayed with the faithful.

"I already love him… I really do, he just seems like he's a humble person, such a change for the church," said one woman.

It’s a church that is seeking change, plagued by scandals and in-fighting and losing active members worldwide.

"The style is the substance so far. I mean the stylistic changes are very important indicating of the characteristics he would want to qualify his governing of the church, more transparency, accessibility, simplicity, so all good so far," said Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago.

It’s an excitement fueled by a hope for many that Pope Francis can help reform and repair their church.

The inaugural mass is a scripted service, except for the Pope's homily, which many are hoping will address the changes they hope he will bring to the Catholic Church.

Tags: Joe Biden, Vatican, Argentina, Jay Gray, NBC News, St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis, cardinal francis george, inauguration mass, christina fernandez de kirchner
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