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It was with a call for the protection of the weakest in society that Francis was officially inaugurated Tuesday as the Catholic Church’s 266th pontiff, before a crowd of tens of thousands bathed in sunlight.Giving his homily before the throngs in St. Peter’s Square, Francis showed the humility and concern for ordinary people that have been noted since he became the first Latin American to be elected pope six days ago, CNN reports.Before he spoke, he was given the official symbols of his papacy: a lamb’s wool shawl, to represent his role as “the good shepherd,” and the Fisherman’s Ring, to represent his role of spreading the gospel.The ring is secondhand and is not solid gold like that of his predecessors, but made of gold-plated silver – again reflecting his desire for simplicity.The pope delivered his homily in Italian, rooted in a message of looking after the poor and sick, as well as the natural world.He reflected first on the symbolism of the date: this is the day that Catholics celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph to honor Jesus’ father on Earth, the carpenter Joseph.Francis spoke of Joseph’s role in protecting not only Jesus and Mary, but also the church. He spoke too of the need to protect “all creation, the beauty of the created world” as instructed by the Bible and shown by St. Francis of Assisi, whose name he took as pope.This, he said, “means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about.”He warned of the consequences if people do not look after one another. “Whenever human beings fail to live up to this responsibility, whenever we fail to care for creation and for our brothers and sisters, the way is opened to destruction and hearts are hardened.”
And he urged those in power to live up to their duties, and to all to avoid evil, hatred and pride. “I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: Let us be ‘protectors’ of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment,” he said.After his homily, 500 priests dispensed communion to the throngs of locals, pilgrims, tourists and dignitaries gathered for the historic occasion.Between 150,000 and 200,000 people turned out in and around St. Peter’s Square, said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman. Police in the area told CNN there were fewer people than expected but declined to give an estimate.
Basescu and US Vice President Joe Biden discuss missile shield
President Traian Basescu talked with US Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday at the Vatican, the discussion reconfirming the fact that the timetable of the missile shield in Romania will not be affected by the new decisions taken by Washington and will continue.“President Traian Basescu had a talk with US Vice President Joe Biden at the inauguration ceremony of Pope Francis at the Vatican. Vice President Joe Biden reconfirmed the fact that the timetable of the missile shield in Romania will not be affected in any way by the new decisions taken in Washington and that the timetable will continue as discussed with Romanian authorities,” Presidential spokesperson Bogdan Oprea stated for Mediafax. According to Oprea, President Basescu was also given assurances by US Secretary of State John Kerry during a phone conversation that took place on Friday, March 15. Basescu’s phone conversation with the US Secretary of State preceded the United States’ official announcement concerning the missile shield. The US administration informed on Friday that it decided to adjust the missile defence system in Europe by no longer introducing a type of interceptor missiles, developing in exchange missile defence measures on US soil as a result of the threats coming from North Korea. The US contribution to the defence of NATO Europe will not be affected, a US embassy communiqué issued on Saturday shows, pointing out that the construction of the base in Romania as part of phase two of the missile shield remains on schedule and on budget.