- (Photo: Reuters/Max Rossi)
Pope Francis officially became the 266th pontiff in front of thousands of faithful followers who packed St. Peter's Square Tuesday to see the new leader of the Catholic Church.
Italian authorities were prepared for as many as 1 million visitors, but Vatican spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, revealed that numbers was closer to several hundred thousand. Formerly known as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Pope Francis used his homily to urge all of his followers that God's true calling and message is for the faithful to be in service to their neighbors.
"Never forget that authentic power is service, and that the Pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service," the pope told the adoring crowd.
Before the Mass, the Pope was seen interacting with visitors in and around St. Peter's Square in the famed Popemobile. He also shook hands and embraced those fortunate to be standing near his barricaded path.
During his homily, Pope Francis once again took time to reiterate the need to care for those in need as well as not to shy away from our responsibility to God.
"Whenever human beings fail to live up to this responsibility, whenever we fail to care for creation and for our brothers and sisters, the way is opened to destruction and hearts are hardened," he said.
The Pope left his most poignant words for those who hold positions that require goodwill and faith as those individuals should be stewards of God's message, while ignoring sinful temptations and self-serving interests.
"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," Pope Francis told the crowd gathered in St. Peter's Square.