Papal installation set Tuesday

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Pope Francis waves as he arrives to lead his first Angelus prayer from the window of the apartments at St Peter’s square on March 17, 2013 at the Vatican. AFP FILE PHOTO

VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis will be installed on Tuesday in what is expected to be the biggest papal installation ceremony in history.

Italian newspapers said at least a million people should turn up for the event.

A Mass at 9:30 a.m. (4:30 p.m., Manila time) will precede the papal installation, which is expected at around 1 p.m. (8 p.m. in Manila).

In keeping with the new Pope’s policy of making the Church closer to the people, the Vatican said it would not regulate the crowd. “No tickets will be issued for that Mass,” the press office said. “All who wish may attend.”

Although there will be no coronation, the papal installation will still have the pomp and pageantry of ancient papal coronations, observers said.

The last Pope to be crowned with the tiara was Paul VI in 1963. He abolished the practice when he became Pope.

“Obviously any papal installation beats any royal coronation or wedding,” said a Dominican apostolic confessor at Santa Maria Maggiore, where Francis went to offer flowers to the Madonna after his election on March 14. “You’re talking about the inauguration of the Pope who’s leader of the biggest Christian denomination and the largest religion in the world.”

Although some of the 6,000 press people accredited for the papal conclave have left, the Vatican media office said it expected as many press people to cover the installation, more than the 1,000 journalists who sought accreditation during the beatification of the very popular Pope John Paul II in 2011.

Even the non-Catholic evangelical broadcast station 700 Club and the Arab media agency Al Jazeera have sought accreditation.

The installation will also be attended by heads of state and government eager to be in the good graces of the Vatican, which runs the world’s oldest and perhaps most successful diplomatic corps.

The United States will be represented by Vice President Joseph Biden, the Philippines by Vice President Jejomar Binay.

After the installation, according to the Vatican press office, the Pope “will receive the leaders of the official delegations at the Confessional Altar inside the Basilica.”

As he did in 2001 when he was made a cardinal by John Paul II, Francis has called on his Argentine countrymen not to come anymore to his installation and to donate instead the money for the trip to the poor.

But his appeal has largely fallen on deaf ears. Argentinians, led by President Cristina Fernandez Kirchner, have booked flights and are expected to descend in droves to the installation of their proudest son.

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