Pope runs late during busy day in South Korea, asks to skip prayers so he can get home safely

Pope Francis has long been a stickler for making enough time to pray, getting up at 4:30 a.m. to ensure he isn't rushed through his daily meditations.

But he sheepishly asked to skip evening vespers on Saturday after he ran behind schedule during a busy day that saw him celebrate a Mass before about 800,000 people in Seoul and then travel 90 kilometers (55 miles) to a South Korean community that cares for disabled people.

Francis had three meetings scheduled consecutively in the community of Kkottognae, and by the time he hit the second one — a vespers service in Latin and Korean and speech to some 5,000 nuns and priests — he was running out of time.

"I've got a little problem," he told the crowd. "If there's one thing you should never do, it's skip your prayers, but today we'll have to do it alone and I'll tell you why: I came by helicopter, and if we don't take off in time, there's a danger we might smash into a mountain."

The crowd erupted in laughter once Francis' Italian apologies were translated into Korean.