To a congregation that included U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden and guests from 130 other countries and organizations, Pope Francis on Tuesday laid out his vision for a papacy devoted to service – in particular, offering help for humanity’s most forgotten souls.
The Pope “must be inspired by the lowly, concrete and faithful service which marked St. Joseph,” Francis, 76, an Argentine who was elected the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church last week, said at his installation mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, reports The New York Times.
“Like him, he must open his arms to protect all of God’s people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison.”
“Authentic power is service,” he said of the powerful office he inherits.
Francis received two symbolic emblems of the papacy at the mass – the fisherman’s ring, a reference to how St. Peter fished for food and later for souls, and the pallium, a white garment symbolizing the role of the pope as a good shepherd.
Befitting his image as a humble man himself, Francis mingled with the faithful in St. Peter’s Square before the mass. In simple white robes, he stopped to kiss a baby and a disabled man, and drew adoring laughter when he gave supporters a thumbs-up sign.