(NY Times) At the formal start of his papacy, Pope Francis offered a passionate pledge on Tuesday to serve â€œthe poorest, the weakest, the least important,â€ striking the same tones of humility as have marked the days since he was elected last week.
On a raised and canopied throne on a purple platform looking out from St. Peterâ€™s Basilica to the huge piazza in front of it, the pope enjoined those in temporal power to protect the world and â€œnot allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world.â€
â€œToday, too, amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others,â€ he added to frequent applause from some among the tens of thousands people cramming the square and the broad avenue leading to it from the River Tiber. The Vatican estimated the number at 150,000 to 200,000.
Clearly defining his vision of his own role, he quoted from scriptural texts to say that as Bishop of Rome, he was endowed with â€œa certain power.â€
But he went on: â€œLet us never forget that authentic power is service and that the pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the Cross.â€
â€œHe must be inspired by the lowly, concrete and faithful service which marked St. Joseph and, like him, he must open his arms to protect all of Godâ€™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.â€ The inauguration coincided with St. Josephâ€™s day commemorating Joseph, the biblical husband of Mary.
His words, for some, found an echo. â€œThis is why we are all here, his warmth,â€ said Andreina Baldi, 58, a housewife from Rome, the end of Francisâ€™ homily. [more]