Pope Francis Ushers In New Era For Catholic Church

By Mark Abrams

VATICAN CITY (CBS) — It’s the first full day on the job for Pope Francis and he’s already making the rounds.

He visited St. Mary Major Church in Rome for a private prayer and he has a mass scheduled for later today with the cardinals inside the Sistine Chapel.

His election, coming only a day after the 115 cardinals entered the conclave, surprised many Vatican observers who thought it might go longer.

Since what went on behind the closed doors of the Sistine Chapel is supposed to remain secret, we won’t really know what led up to their consensus on Francis.

“He’s just trying to bring people together,” Deacon Michael Pierz said.

Pierz, deacon of the Diocese of Springfield, Mass., says the cardinals sent a strong message.

“They’ve come to this decision within 24 hours of casting their first ballot. This is only the 5th ballot, so they’re pretty united in what they believe. We’ve seen conclaves that go on for four or five days and that’s only in modern history.”

The Vatican says Pope Francis called Benedict last night after he accepted the call of the cardinals and he’s scheduled to visit his predecessor at Castle Gandolfo in the near future.

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