Pope Francis laid out the priorities of his pontificate during his installation Mass on Tuesday, urging the princes, Presidents, sheiks and thousands of ordinary people attending to protect the environment, the weakest and the poorest and to let tenderness “open up a horizon of hope”.

It was a message he has hinted at in his first week as pontiff, when his gestures of simplicity often spoke louder than his words. But on a day when he had the world’s economic, political and religious leadership sitting before him on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica for the official start of his papacy, the Pope made his point clear.

“Please,” he told them. “Let us be protectors of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.”

Massive crowd

The Vatican said between 150,000-200,000 people attended the Mass, held under bright blue skies after days of chilly rain and featuring flag-waving fans from around the world.

The Pope was interrupted by applause several times during his homily, including when he urged the faithful not to allow “omens of destruction,” hatred, envy and pride to “defile our lives”. — AP