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The New Pope :: Pope Francis: Journey of love, trust begins by Priyanka ,  Mar 15, 2013

Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio's election as pope has broken Europe's centuries-old grip on the papacy, opening the doors on a new age of simplicity and humility for the Roman Catholic Church, mired in intrigue and scandal.

He is the first South American pontiff, the first non-European pope in 1,300 years and the first to take the name Pope Francis, in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, the 12th century saint who spurned wealth to pursue a life of poverty.

His elevation on the second day of a closed-door conclave of cardinals came as a surprise, with many Vatican watchers expecting a longer deliberation, and none predicting the conservative 76-year-old Bergoglio would get the nod.

He looked as startled as everyone, hesitating a moment on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica before stepping out to greet the huge crowds gathered in the square below to catch a glimpse of the new pontiff.

"I ask a favor of you ... pray for me," he urged the cheering crowds, telling them the 114 other cardinal-electors "went almost to the end of the world" to find a new leader.

He also offered a prayer to his predecessor, Pope Benedict, who resigned unexpectedly last month, after saying he was too frail to tackle the many problems assailing the world's largest organization, which has an estimated 1.2 billion members.

Francis called on the faithful to pray for Benedict and said the Church was setting off on a "journey of fraternity, of love, of trust".

"Good night and have a good rest," Bergoglio said before disappearing back into the opulent surroundings of the Vatican City - a far cry from his simple apartment in Buenos Aires.

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March 14, 2013: In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis celebrates his inaugural Mass with cardinals, inside the Sistine Chapel, at the Vatican. (AP)

Pope Francis held his first mass as leader of the Catholic Church Thursday, urging cardinals that the church should stick to its roots and avoid modern temptations.

In his first homily at the Sistine Chapel, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the 76-year-old Argentine cardinal who was elected pope by his peers on Wednesday, warned that the church risked becoming a "pitiful" non-governmental organization unless it goes through spiritual renewal and focuses on the message of Jesus Christ, Sky News reports.

"If we do not confess to Christ what would we be?" Francis said. "We would end up a pitiful NGO. What would happen would be like when children make sand castles and then it all falls down."

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March 14, 2013: Newly elected Pope Francis I, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, makes a private visit to the 5th-century Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, in a photo released by Osservatore Romano in Rome. Pope Francis, barely 12 hours after his election, quietly left the Vatican early on Thursday to pray for guidance as he looks to usher a Roman Catholic Church mired in intrigue and scandal into a new age of simplicity and humility. (Reuters)

Francis and all the cardinals in attendance wore light yellow robes over their cassocks, while the new pope spoke in Italian without notes.

Earlier Thursday, Francis stopped by his hotel to pick up his luggage and pay the bill himself and praying at Rome's main basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

He entered the St. Mary Major basilica through a side entrance just after 8 a.m. and left about 30 minutes later.

"He spoke to us cordially, like a father," Father Ludovico Melo, a priest who prayed with Pope Francis, told Reuters. "We were given 10 minutes' advance notice that the pope was coming."

After becoming the first pontiff from the Americans, Francis had told a crowd of some 100,000 people packed in rain-soaked St. Peter's Square just after his election that he intended to pray Friday to the Madonna "that she may watch over all of Rome."

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