Pope Francis, an ardent advocate for the poor, again decried selfishness during his Palm Sunday remarks in St. Peter's Square.
Then he posed for a bunch of "selfies."
Many older folks find that the popular - and mostly youthful - phenomenon of taking your own picture (often with others) with a cell phone self-centered. But in this case, the pope appealed to the better natures of appreciative young people in an audience of 100,000. He surprised them, and virtually everybody else, by stepping down from his popemobile for the impromptu photo opportunities.
Pope Francis, during his first year as pontiff, has repeatedly pulled surprises on both the style and substance fronts. For instance, last July, he said, "If someone is gay and searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him?"
That reflected his general softening of some of the Catholic Church's long-stern stands on assorted issues. As veteran Vatican-covering journalist Robert Mickens told Scott Pelley on a CBS "60 Minutes" segment that aired Sunday night, Pope Francis aims to develop "a missionary church that shows the mercy of God, a church that's not wagging its finger at people, not scolding people, but is inviting people, walking with people, befriending people."
Yet last week, the pope strongly reaffirmed the Church's stand that life beings at conception, condemning "abortion and infanticide" as "abominable crimes."
Meanwhile, Sunday's meet-and-greet selfies session wasn't the first - and apparently won't be the last - attempt by Pope Francis to communicate in the contemporary vernacular to the world's youth.
He even tweeted Monday, "Holy Week is a good occasion to go to confession and to take up the right path again."
And regardless of your faith, of lack thereof, the right path to connecting with lots of young people these days includes speaking their language - and even posing for selfies.
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