Across Russia, pancakes and butter abound as the country marks a week-long celebration before the start of Orthodox Lent. Pagan in origin, Maslenitsa calls for plenty of eating, sledding, merrymaking – and even organized fistfights.
The first pope from the New World must now confront some old problems. He's begun his first full day as head of the church by slipping out of the Vatican to visit an ancient basilica. There, he quietly prayed with priests.
After his election as pope Wednesday, Jorge Mario Bergoglio chose a name that, for many Catholics, sent an immediate signal of his goal to unite the Roman Catholic Church: Pope Francis. The name also prompted some confusion — over whether it should include "I."
Pope Francis is the first pope from Latin America, a choice that makes sense strategically as the church becomes less Europe-centric. But how he will direct the church, which is still dealing with the fallout of the sexual abuse crisis and other challenges, remains unclear.
One of the first personal tidbits to emerge about Pope Francis: He cooks for himself. But austerity and humility are two of the new pontiff's defining characteristics. And they seem to extend to his eating habits.
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