Pope Francis urged princes, presidents, sheiks and thousands of ordinary people gathered for his installation Mass on Tuesday to protect the environment, the weakest and the poorest, mapping out a clear focus of his priorities as leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
The Argentine native is the first pope from Latin America and the first named for the 13th-century friar St. Francis of Assisi, whose life’s work was to care for nature, the poor and most disadvantaged. Echoing the gentleness for which St. Francis is known, the pope said a little bit of tenderness can “open up a horizon of hope.”
The Vatican said between 150,000-200,000 people attended the Mass, held under bright blue skies after days of chilly rain and featuring flag-waving fans from around the world. “Shalom!” read one banner, Hebrew for “Peace.” “Viva il Papa” read another, “Long live the pope.” In Buenos Aires, thousands of people packed the central Plaza di Mayo square to watch the celebration on giant TV screens.
Francis was interrupted by applause several times during his homily, including when he spoke of the need to protect the environment, serve one another with love and not allow “omens of destruction,” hatred, envy and pride to “defile our lives.” (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, Oded Balilty)