With Pope Francis, "be ready for improvisation"

  • Pope Francis puts flowers on the altar inside St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome March 14, 2013, in this picture provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano. AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano
    Pope Francis puts flowers on the altar inside St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome March 14, 2013, in this picture provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.

    (CBS News) VATICAN CITY - Within hours of his election as supreme pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis called his predecessor on the phone. It was the first time a new pope had the opportunity to do such a thing, and it came without warning -- perhaps the first hint at what the Vatican spokesman said Thursday would likely be a papacy full of small surprises.

    The Catholic Church is so steeped in tradition and ritual, so slow to implement any change at all, that even the Vatican's "trinity" of spokesmen seem to have grappled at times with what to tell the armada of journalists which had descended upon Rome.

    "Be ready for improvisation," Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, warned during a news conference Thursday morning, flanked by his English and Spanish speaking deputies. He said it had been a "week of surprises."

    What follows is a look at just some of the things that Pope Francis has done in the first 48 hours of his pontificate to surprise not just journalists and Church watchers, but even some of the Vatican's own top brass.

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  • Tucker Reals

    Tucker Reals is the CBSNews.com foreign editor, based at the CBS News London bureau.

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