Nearly a million in Rome for Pope Francis inauguration

(Photo: Reuters / Paul Hanna)Pope Francis leans out to touch a child's head as he arrives in Saint Peter's Square for his inaugural mass at the Vatican, March 19, 2013. Pope Francis celebrates his inaugural mass on Tuesday among political and religious leaders from around the world and amid a wave of hope for a renewal of the scandal-plagued Roman Catholic Church.

From Argentine to Zimbabwe, pilgrims, tourists, church heads, heads of State, political leaders were part of a crowd estimated at more than 200,000 and expected to swell to near one million in Rome for the inauguration of Pope Francis, the first pontiff from Latin America.

The Pope stood for his homily instead of sitting with the theme on protection and fideilty in his first address to 1.2 million Catholics, with his compatriots in Argentine up till the early hours of the morning to watch the historic moment.

"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.

"Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world! But to be 'protectors', we also have to keep watch over ourselves! Let us not forget that hatred, envy and pride defile our lives!

"Being protectors, then, also means keeping watch over our emotions, over our hearts, because they are the seat of good and evil intentions: intentions that build up and tear down! We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness!"

Kissing baby and sick man

Before his inaugural mass on Tuesday, Pope Francis, who is 76, rode through the crowd, spontaneously alighting from his Popemobile an open Jeep flanked by bodyguards to shake hands with people and kiss a baby and a sick man. The armoured panels were removed.

The Pope showed his new style connecting directly with the huge crowd at St. Peter's Square, which he showed meeting people like an ordinary parish priest on Sunday after his mass in St. Anne's church.

Francis, wearing a white miter and his crozier walked through St. Peter's Basilica flanked by altar servers before the mass.

The inauguration was on St. Joseph's Day, Francis asking for delivery of the Gospel in Greek not the customary Latin. The homily was to be in Italian, a language the Pope is familiar with being born in Argentine to Italian immigrants.

Southwark Roman Catholic Archbishop Peter Smith, on BBC television recalled the day Franics was elected on March 12, "He spoke like an uncle to the people. One of the most impressive things was when he asked everyone to pray with him.

Smith added, "How much of that he can carry on, we will have to find out."

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, head of the College of Cardinals presented Pope Francis with the Fisherman's Ring bearing the image of St. Peter with keys. St. Peter was a close disciple of Jesus and the first leader of the Church.

The ring is destroyed and remade after each papacy. Pope Francis did away with a gold ring and chose a gold-plated ring.

"You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church," the words of Jesus were recited by Cardinal Sodano.

One of the first prayer's recicted was the "Kyrie, eleison", a derivation from Greek calling for forgiveness and penance.

Among the church leaders there were the general secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, the Archbishop of York, Rev. John Sentamu representing the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I.

Ecumenical Patriarch makes history

"It is not clear if a Patriarch of Constantinople - who is considered 'first among equals' in the Eastern Orthodox Communion - has ever attended the installation of a Pope of Rome. The event is certainly unique in the more than 950 years since the break in relations between Constantinople and Rome in 1054," commented Vatican Radio.

Politically 132 countries were represented.

Argentine President Cristina Kirchner met Pope Francis face-to-face on Monday where she asked him to mediate in her dispute with Britain for the Falkland Islands, known in her country as the Malvinas and which the South American country claims.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe who is under a European Union travel ban, arrived in Italy for the inauguration of Pope Francis on Monday.

Mugabe arrived in controversy after police in Zimbabwe on Sunday arrested four of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's aides and a prominent human rights lawyer following a referendum that would curtail the president's powers.

The Vatican said all were welcome to attend.

Watch Pope Francis' inauguration homily below:

Watch video of the pope receiving the papal ring below:

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