Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Pope Francis greets crowds at inauguration

19 March 2013, 12:31

Vatican City - Pope Francis swept into St Peter's Square on Tuesday to greet throngs of pilgrims before a sumptuous ceremony in which Latin America's first pontiff will receive the formal symbols of papal power.

Wearing his papal whites and standing in middle of an open-topped vehicle, the pope waved, smiled and gave the thumbs-up to the ecstatic crowds in the sun-drenched square.

The crowds had begun gathering from the early morning for a ceremony laden with centuries-old rituals and lavish imagery, which will begin with a first-time tour of the famous Vatican plaza by the Argentine pope.

"With Pope Francis, the Church will be closer to the people and to the modern world," said Rodrigo Grajales, a 31-year-old Colombian priest in the crowd, where people waved flags from around the world and banners hailing the pope.

The former archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, aged 76, has already won hearts in Rome with a disarmingly informal style which will contrast with Tuesday's pomp and ceremony.

Bergoglio was the surprise choice at a conclave of cardinals to find a successor to 85-year-old Benedict XVI, who last month brought a sudden end to a papacy that had often been overshadowed by scandal, saying he was too old to carry on.

Go Francis!

He was the first pope to resign since the Middle Ages.

The jovial Francis has said he chose his papal name in honour of the mediaeval Italian saint St Francis of Assisi and has called for a "poor Church for the poor", warning the world's cardinals against pursuing worldly glories.

"Go Francis! We Will Be With You Wherever You Go!" read a sign held up by a group of Brazilian nuns on St Peter's Square.

Sister Rosa, an elderly Italian nun, said she expected the pope would be "another St Francis on earth for love, goodness, poverty and humility".

The son of an Italian emigrant railway worker from a working-class quarter of Buenos Aires has been effusive in a way that is unusual in the Vatican, kissing pilgrims and doing impromptu walkabouts.

The arrivals have already presented Francis with a first diplomatic headache in the form of a request from compatriot President Cristina Kirchner of Argentina to mediate in a row with Britain over sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.

Mugabe in attendance

Francis is still haunted by criticism at home for failing to speak out against the excesses of Argentina's military rule during the dictatorship of the 1970s and 1980s.

The Chinese government has also said it will not be sending any representatives after Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou said he was attending.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe also flew in, sidestepping an EU travel ban over human rights abuses that does not apply to the Vatican.

Latin America will be heavily represented at the inauguration of the first non-European pope in nearly 1 300 years, with the presidents of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico and Paraguay all in attendance.

Leaders of different Christian denominations were also in attendance, including Bartholomew I, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.

Vatican radio said it was the first time a patriarch of Constantinople attended an inauguration since 1054 when the eastern and western halfs of Christendom split.

Homily by Francis

The Vatican was in security lockdown for the event, with 3 000 officers deployed including sharpshooters on the rooftops and bomb disposal experts.

Three Red Cross tents could be seen on the square and giant screens have been placed all down Via della Conciliazione - the main avenue leading to St Peter's.

After his tour of St Peter's Square, Francis will pray at the tomb of St Peter, who is considered the first pontiff in Catholic tradition.

Francis will then receive from his cardinals the pallium - a lambswool strip of cloth that symbolises the pope's role as a shepherd - and the "Fisherman's Ring", a personalised signet ring representing his authority.

The ring is named in honour of St Peter, a fisherman by trade.

The mass proper is expected to include a homily by Francis, who has often strayed from prepared texts with off-the-cuff jokes, anecdotes and passionate exhortations for spiritual renewal.

Friendlier faith

Church leaders have urged Francis to move quickly to reform the intrigue-filled Roman Curia, the central administration of the Roman Catholic Church, and his appointments in the coming weeks will be closely watched.

Francis has indicated he will press for a friendlier faith that is closer to ordinary people and for social justice, although the moderate conservative is unlikely to change major tenets of Catholic doctrine.

Vatican experts say he has also signalled he will pursue a more inclusive "collegial" style of leadership together with the cardinals and bishops.

The Church is being challenged on many levels around the world - growing secularism in the West, the rise of radical Islam and the ongoing scandal of abuses of children by priests that were hushed up for decades.

Vast crowds meanwhile gathered on the other side of the Atlantic outside the Buenos Aires cathedral to dance and sing as they watched the inauguration.

Catholic high school students chanted slogans praising Francis, while seminarians and nuns waved Vatican flags and signs supporting the new pope.

"This pope has awakened deep emotions within me, not only because he's from Argentina, but because of his warmth as a person," Celia Farias, aged 33, said.

"As a Catholic, it has renewed my faith."



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...