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Pope invites friend to take a spin in St. Peter's Square: "What am I doing here? Mamma mia!"

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    Pope Francis caresses 8-year-old Gemma at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)The Associated Press

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    Pope Francis arrives for his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)The Associated Press

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    A member of Golden Circus performs in front of Pope Francis during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)The Associated Press

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    Members of the Golden Circus welcome Pope Francis as he arrives for his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)The Associated Press

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!'"