Pope invites friend for spin in St. Peter’s Square

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Rev. Fabian Baez, bottom right, sits behind Pope Francis on his popemobile as he arrives for his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Rev. Fabian Baez, bottom right, sits behind Pope Francis on his popemobile as he arrives for his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has broken with papal protocol once again, inviting a friend for a spin in his panoramic white car.

The Rev. Fabian Baez, a priest from Francis’ hometown in Buenos Aires, didn’t have a VIP ticket for the pope’s weekly general audience Wednesday. But as soon as Francis saw him in the crowd, the pope signaled for the Vatican gendarmes to help Baez jump the barricade and approach him.

Francis then invited him to hop aboard, and Baez accompanied Francis on his tour through St. Peter’s Square as the pope waved to well-wishers and kissed babies handed up to him.

Baez said he was shocked by Francis’ invitation, telling reporters afterward: “I said to myself ‘What am I doing here? Mamma mia!'”

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Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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