At his installation Mass in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis called on world leaders to protect the environment, the weakest and the poorest. Speaking in terms of peace, the pope said that exercising “love and tenderness would not allow ‘omens of destruction,’ hatred, envy and pride to “defile our lives.”
The simplified Mass was attended by leaders and delegations from 132 nations and churches and 150,000 people jammed into the sunny piazza as the 266th pope, if the apostle Peter (who wasn’t a pope) is included, was installed as head of 1.2 billion Catholics.
The Vatican defied an EU travel ban on Robert Mugabe the president of Zimbabwe and a Roman Catholic and permitted him to attend the Mass, saying that all Catholics are welcome to attend the installation. Francis bowed to him and shook his hand. Mugabe is banned from EU travel because of human rights abuses and vote rigging in Zimbabwe’s own “dirty war.”
Speaking to the leaders of nations present at the massive gathering, Francis said: “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.”
“I want to ask you to walk together, and take care of one another… and don’t forget that this bishop who is far away loves you very much. Pray for me,” he said.
Francis’ charismatic personality thrilled the crowd as he spontaneously stopped his jeep to kiss and bless babies on the way around the square. On one occasion he stopped the vehicle and went into the crowd to bless a disabled man in a wheelchair. With his characteristic thumbs up, and mischievous smile, he worked the cheering crowd like a master politician.
“And by peace he shall destroy many…” Daniel 8:25
“And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him…” Revelation 13:8.