Pope vows to ‘embrace poorest’ at grand inauguration


Pope Francis celebrates his installation Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. Pope Francis has urged princes, presidents, sheikhs and thousands of ordinary people gathered for his installation Mass to protect God’s creation, the weakest and the poorest of the world. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis knelt at the tomb of St. Peter and donned the symbols of papal power at a sumptuous inauguration on Tuesday, vowing to embrace the “poorest, the weakest” of humanity.

Nearly 200,000 pilgrims cheered Latin America’s first pontiff in St. Peter’s Square, waving flags from around the world as the newly elected popes promised that his would be a “lowly, concrete and faithful” papacy.

In an address strongly influenced by the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi, the saint he has chosen as his inspiration, he urged world economic and political leaders not to “allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world!”

His voice raised in emotion, the 76-year-old Francis said a pope must “embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important.”

“Amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope,” said the Argentinian, after touring a sun-drenched St. Peter’s Square in an open-top car to cries of “Long live the pope!”

The former Buenos Aires Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was a fervent critic of the International Monetary Fund and unregulated market capitalism — a stance that could make him an important voice in an austerity-hit Europe.

At the ceremony, the 265th successor to St. Peter received from his cardinals the papal pallium — a lambswool strip of cloth that symbolises the pope’s role as a shepherd and has red crosses to represent the wounds of Jesus Christ.

The “Fisherman’s Ring” bestowed on him by Angelo Sodano, dean of the college of cardinals, is a personalized signet ring traditionally worn by popes in honor of St. Peter — a fisherman.

“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.

Francis gave the thumbs-up as he toured the square, stopping to kiss babies and getting out of the car at one point to bless a disabled man.

“Go Francis! We Will Be With You Wherever You Go!” read a sign held up by a group of Brazilian nuns in 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 Vatican said there were between 150,000 and 200,000 people present at the ceremony.

The son of an Italian immigrant railway worker, Francis has already won hearts in Rome with a disarmingly informal style which contrasted with Tuesday’s pomp and ceremony.

The Vatican said 132 foreign delegations attended.

Bergoglio was the surprise choice at last week’s 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.

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

Francis has called for a “poor Church for the poor,” warning the world’s cardinals against pursuing worldly glories and saying that without deep spiritual renewal the Roman Catholic Church would crumble “like a sand castle.”

The arrival of world leaders has presented him 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.

Francis is still haunted by criticism from left-wingers 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 also said it would not be sending any representatives after Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou said he was attending.

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

Latin America was 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.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and European Union leaders were also present.

Leaders of the Eastern Catholic Rite were also there, including Bartholomew I, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.

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

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

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.

Vast crowds also 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, 33, told AFP.

“As a Catholic, it has renewed my faith.”

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • http://www.yellowmythbusters.gov.ph/ Weder-Weder Lang

    Congratulations Pope Francis. You have your work cut out for you. Just a few thoughts to ponder:

    01. Why not ask the Philippine Catholic Church to give up its worldly wealth like how Saint Francis of Assisi renounced his wealth and inheritance during his time? (as chronicled by Andre Vauchez)

    02. Why not ask CBCP to give up its stock holdings in Ayala Corp, SMC, Philex, BPI, Phinma Corp, Atlas Mining, Meralco, Petron, Concrete Aggregates Corp and etc?


    03. Why not ask all the members of the Catholic Church’s clergy to sign a waiver, allowing SEC and PSE to disclose all their stock holdings annually?

    04. Why not give up the Catholic Church’s vast land holdings?

    If St. Francis of Assisi can do it, the Catholic Church can also do it.

    • Jarred Pulido

      Good luckPope Francis. I agree with sir/ma’am. the catholic church here is one of the richest in the world, The dividends alone could put hundreds of children to school.

      • johnlagrimas

        Then “give up” your inheritance first if ever you’re a christian, walk your talk. Or you’re just the same like the TV preachers always imposing on others the things they don’t even care to do or follow. POS!

      • Jarred Pulido

        No inheritance to give up. Not rich just educated. And have my our charity cases. Children to put thru school and a nephew. And I don’t now any preacher or pastor or what ever.

    • johnlagrimas

      Why would you not go to the billionaires/millionaires in this country and tell them the same. They’re the ones hoarding the wealth and riches of this country. Or you’re only trying to put the church at fault.

      Be realistic!

      • http://pinoyteens.net/ PinoyTeens.Net

        @RalphRecto:disqus You’re just trying to defend the corrupt system of the CBCP here. Of course, the billionaires/millionaires should do the same, but hey, the Catholic Church, being the very capitalist instead of being open to the “poor” just wrong.

      • http://www.facebook.com/alfred.rain Alfred Rain

        I learned that the Church have investments, but I did not see it wrong,
        Catholic Church is a very large organization that needs funds to
        operate. Part of it goes to helping people as well. Selling out stocks
        and giving them to the people is not helping at all, once the funds are
        depleted there will be no more next time. But if they have continuous
        fund, they can have better programs. Just a basic for all kinds of

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_H4PIIBVQK4BSXMIKFRWWAAQAUY Heartrob ng Pugad Baboy

        I don’t get the go after the wealthy and redistribute to the poor. Socialist countries (Cuba, North Korea, USSR, China) tried it. Did it do the people any good? China, until it embraced capitalism, was barely better than North Korea.

        How about you worked hard your life and made enough money for you and the next 3 generations of your family. The government then said, you don’t need all that money, we are only leaving you enough for you and your family. We will take mansion. Convert that into public housing so 10 more families can live in it. Meanwhile, we are moving you to a public housing with one bedroom. Btw, that’s not your business anymore. Nope, we are taking them away from you. Instead you will be working for us making less than minimum wage. Don’t worry, everyone else will be the same. Btw, regardless of how highly educated you are, how smart you are and how hard you work, we will be capping your success because everyone needs to be the same.

        Sounds good to you?

      • mabuhay_si_marKy

        agree with you man! i’m not a catholic, but understand that there are tons of work that the church is doing to help the poor. but of course, it does not try to announce to the world the good that it does.

      • http://www.yellowmythbusters.gov.ph/ Weder-Weder Lang

        Hindi naman po Kapatid na Juan. We also asked Kapitan Lucio the chekwa, Tatang Enrico the shoemaker, Kastilaloy Ayala but they all refused. Even our very own indio brother Manay Pangilinan could not resist the temptation of owning more and more of this country. PNoy himself refuses to donate some of his huge inheritance and offshore dollar accounts to the poor, although he never had to break a sweat in the fields to earn them. The church on the other hand makes for an easy target. Because they publicly disclosed their vow of poverty. Just testing lang how far the vow of poverty will go. No offense meant Kapatid na Juan.

    • Dagul2

      This is a big surprise!!!! I am a catholic and I didn’t know that the CBCP has stock holdings in various and well known companies. Saan napupunta ang kinikita sa stocks?

      The catholic church is against the reproductive health bill. Most of the people in the Philippines who has a lot of children are the poor. Most of the well known private schools in the Philippines belong to the catholics. Now the question is: can the poor children study in a private catholic school without paying tuition fee?

      • http://www.facebook.com/alfred.rain Alfred Rain

        I learned that the Church have investments, but I did not see it wrong,
        Catholic Church is a very large organization that needs funds to
        operate. Part of it goes to helping people as well. Selling out stocks
        and giving them to the people is not helping at all, once the funds are
        depleted there will be no more next time. But if they have continuous
        fund, they can have better programs. Just a basic for all kinds of
        organization in order to operate. Well, it still matters on how they use the funds though. Nevertheless it’s an organizational fund I think,

      • http://www.yellowmythbusters.gov.ph/ Weder-Weder Lang

        Kaya sana utusan ni Papa Kiko ang CBCP na ipamigay na ang kayamanan ng simbahan. Kahit bahagya lang.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5UOZM4PWIDKO7G64HL3PPMXUTM Constantine

      Do you want the Catholic Bishops to suffer heart attack? They will never give up their earthly possessions, I tell you!

      • http://www.yellowmythbusters.gov.ph/ Weder-Weder Lang

        Pero, pero, pero sabi ni Papa Kiko eh.

    • James

      Your comment is the most stupid thing I’ve read.

      1. You are asking the Church to give up its worldly wealth? How will the Church run hospitals, schools, orphanages, leper communities, and other social services? How will it maintain the physical churches that are part of history and art?

      2. Why don’t you ask that to INC. These are legitimate holdings. Bakit inggit ka ba?

      3. Waiver? Why ask for a waiver? This just show how ignorant you are about finances. These information are publicly disclosed and can be seen on the shareholder data of each company in the pse website.

      4. You ask the Church to give up land it owns. Gusto mong palutangin sa hangin ang mga ospital, paaralan, simbahan, leper communities, orphanages?

      Dude, St Francis gave up everything he owned but not what was owned by the Church.

      • http://www.yellowmythbusters.gov.ph/ Weder-Weder Lang

        Why the hatred? Nagtatanong lang naman ah. Kung ayaw ni Papa Kiko ipamigay ang makamundong pag-aari ng simbahan, e di wag. Nagtatanong lang naman eh.

        Your point no. 1, sabi ko naman hindi lahat. Kahit 80% lang, ipamigay nila. Limpak limpak kaya ang pera ng simbahan.

        Your point no. 2, sabi ng INC they will follow the lead of RCC.

        Your point no. 3, it’s not available in the website and FS of these companies. I know someone from PSE and SEC which is how I’m able to verify my info.

        Your point no. 4, may healing powers naman ang RCC. Kaya naman nila siguro palutangin sarili nila at pagalingin ang may sakit. Kung si Lazarus nga gumaling, yung iba pa kaya.

      • James

        Hatred? Where’s the hate dude? I’m just saying that your comment is stupid. And your reply is outrageously more stupid. The Church will give not because some frog tells Her to do so. And mind you, the Church does not advertise Her charity works because frogs are not entitled to know.

  • kwangkwang


  • Hfxwst

    WOW – Our CBCP is going to have problems with this new Pope. The CBCP members are far more comfortable in the private dining rooms and offices of government officials, than they are on the street with the poor. There is going to be trouble – and when the new Pope challenges the code of silence for priest child molesters – the excuse making will be loud and amusing for sure.

    • Hfxwst

      How many members of the CBCP have ever taken a bus?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BJWOSERENIZQCR35IJH6SLXBUI cali

    all priest here better behave like a priest and not behave like some spoiled brats! Viva Pope Francis!

    • topolcats

      Pope Francis never ever embraced the weakest and the most vulnerable during the dirty wars of Argentina…….its not likely Argentinians are going to believe him now! ,,,,,,,,,,,,you flips are dumb of course you would Believe all that BS…. LOL!

  • bugoybanggers

    Thinking about this new POPE, this will be a big problem to those Hungry BELIEVERS grabbers in the Philippines (Kudos to INC, Protestants, Evangelist, blah blah blah). If this Pope will change or will do for GOOD and Catholicism will progress then BAD NEWS for the Kudos. They beleive that Catholicism is not Christian, ask MANNY PACQUIAO Pastors. Then what will be good for them? Continue destroying the reputation of the Catholic Believers and always feed to them about the epic of Padre DAMASO.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5UOZM4PWIDKO7G64HL3PPMXUTM Constantine

    We certainly salute Pope Francis unlike the sinful CBCP members who are boastful, sired several children, corrupt, etc. All the Bishops in the Philippines are riding in chauffeur driven cars and live very comfortably. With a house help, driver, janitoretc. who are under their beck and call. The Bishops in the Philippines are the most spoiled Bishops in the whole world!

  • Teresa Santos

    The Philippines should push through with Imelda Marcos’ plan in the past to build one of the biggest and spectacular church in Asia.

    1. Building it alone will create a lot of jobs
    2. It will be a tourist attraction, will create a lot of jobs
    3. Will of course provide services and tourist attraction to millions of Filipinos
    4. Will show the world that the Philippines is not just about nature and attractive women

    Funding is not a problem

    Madam Imelda could probably donate 30 m, Lucio Tan 50 m, Henry Sy 30 m…..Ayala 20 m…our tycoons could easily raise 300 million

    The government could tax every Filipino 1 peso..total of 100 million

    The Catholic Church could raise another 100 m

    Another 500 million from our reserves

    This is a total of 1 billion for Asia’s biggest Catholic Chruch!
    The Taj Mahal of the Philippines!

    • scy.no.med

      Haha… No. Why not use the 1 billion to build schools and hospitals? Far more useful in the long run. A lot of government projects could also be financed, if only the government wasn’t corrupt. They could also find a better use for the land, like agricultural, commercial, or residential use. One that actually earns taxes.

  • mabyrik

    I hope Pope Francis will pray intensely that our CBCP will now be the Shepherd of the Lost rather than the Shepherd of the Corrupt.

    So much had been lost and so many believers have been disappointed by seemingly illogical and incomprehensible actions of Philippine bishops this past decade.

    I am hoping that the bishops, even if some or all of them did not take the vow of poverty, will live simply, away from those politicians as if they themselves are politicians, like the simpleness that Pope Francis is now trying to convey to all Catholics.

    Hopefully, our bishops will not cheapen the sacred blessings anymore.

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks



latest videos