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Pope abandons homily, urges reflection

Sunday - 4/13/2014, 1:10pm  ET

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Francis has tossed aside his prepared homily on this Palm Sunday -- instead speaking entirely off-the-cuff to a crowd gathered in St. Peter's Square.

He called on people -- himself included -- to look into their own hearts to see how they are living their lives.

After listening to a Gospel account of how Jesus' disciples fell asleep shortly before he was betrayed by Judas, the pope asked, "Has my life fallen asleep?" He asked, "Where is my heart?" -- and said that's the question "which accompanies us" throughout Holy Week.

And then the pontiff helped some in the crowd take a look at themselves -- by hopping off his popemobile to pose for "selfies" with young people.

In a crowd of about 100,000 Romans, tourists and pilgrims, people held olive tree branches, palm fronds and palm leaves shaped like crosses that were blessed by Francis at the start of the ceremony.

%@AP Links

071-r-44-(Sound of choir singing hymn, at solemn Palm Sunday service)--Sound of the Vatican choir singing a hymn during Mass, as thousands of Romans, tourists and pilgrims throng St. Peter's Square. (13 Apr 2014)

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070-r-24-(Sound of Pope Francis, at solemn Palm Sunday service in St. Peter's Square)--Sound of the pope during Mass on the steps of the square as thousands of Romans, tourists and pilgrims spread out before him. ((cut is actually 24 seconds long)) (13 Apr 2014)

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APPHOTO RDL142: Pope Francis holds a wooden pastoral staff carved by Italian prison inmates, as he leaves at the end of the Palm Sunday mass in St. Peter's square at the Vatican, Sunday, April 13, 2014. Tens of thousands of Romans, tourists and pilgrims have joined Pope Francis in a solemn Palm Sunday service in St. Peter's Square. Palm Sunday begins Holy Week, which culminates next Sunday on Easter. The pope is determined to put people on the margins of life at the center of the Roman Catholic church's attention. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca) (13 Apr 2014)

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APPHOTO RDL141: Pope Francis greets faithful at the end of the Palm Sunday mass in St. Peter's square at the Vatican, Sunday, April 13, 2014. Tens of thousands of Romans, tourists and pilgrims have joined Pope Francis in a solemn Palm Sunday service in St. Peter's Square. Palm Sunday begins Holy Week, which culminates next Sunday on Easter. Francis used a pastoral staff made of wood carved by Italian prison inmates, who donated it to him. The pope is determined to put people on the margins of life at the center of the Roman Catholic church's attention. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca) (13 Apr 2014)

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