March 25, 2013

VATICAN CITY – The night of his election, Pope Francis phoned the Vatican ambassador in Argentina and asked him to tell the country's bishops and faithful not to feel obliged to come to Rome for his installation, said the Vatican spokesman.

Rather, they should give the money to the poor that they would have spent on travel, said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the spokesman.

"Pope Francis did not forbid them to come," Lombardi said, but he said he would prefer their continued prayers and acts of charity.

The nuncio to Argentina, Archbishop Emil Tscherrig, wrote to all the bishops March 14 conveying the Argentine pope's sentiments.

"The Holy Father Francis asked me to convey to all the bishops, priests, religious and all God's people, his gratitude for your prayers and expressions of love, affection and charity," Tscherrig wrote.

However, he said, Pope Francis asked that "instead of going to Rome for the start of his pontificate March 19, you would continue with that spiritual closeness he so appreciates, accompanying him with some act of charity toward those in need."

On Pope Francis' second full day in office, Lombardi said, he celebrated Mass at 7 a.m. in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where the cardinals lived during the conclave and where the pope remained until the papal apartments were ready for him.

The Vatican spokesman said he spoke to the director of the residence who said that Pope Francis continues to go down to the dining hall for meals.

He usually arrives after most of the cardinals "and just goes to the first table he finds with an empty seat." No special table has been set up for the pope, and he does not sit alone at an empty table.

As he has said in recent days, Lombardi said he expects Pope Francis to travel to World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in July. As soon as the pope confirms the trip, it will be announced, he said.

A Polish journalist said Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, Poland, had said he invited Pope Francis to Poland for World Youth Day 2016.

Lombardi said: "World Youth Day 2016 in Poland? That's news! We expect the next World Youth Day to be announced at the end of the celebrations in Rio."