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New pope visits basilica in Rome

Pope Francis has opened his pontificate with a visit to Rome's main basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

The visit came the day after cardinals elected him the first pontiff from the Americas in a bid to resurrect a Catholic Church in crisis.

The former archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Bergoglio, entered the basilica through a side entrance and left about 30 minutes later, Italy's RAI state television said.

He told a crowd of 100,000 people packed into a rain-soaked St Peter's Square just after his election on Wednesday that he intended to pray to the Madonna "that she may watch over all of Rome".

He told cardinals he would also call on retired Pope Benedict XVI on Friday and celebrate an inaugural mass in the Sistine Chapel.


From Belfast Telegraph