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Francis Calls on Church to Protect the Young, Elderly

The newly installed Pope Francis has called on the faithful to protect children and the elderly, as well as the church and the rest of creation, in his inaugural homily in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.

Pope Francis delivered his message in Italian, Tuesday, under a vividly blue sky, speaking to about 150,000 onlookers, that included political leaders from 130 nations and representatives from a variety of religions.

Among the high-level guests is the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, Bartholomew. He is the first patriarch from the Istanbul-based church to witness a papal inauguration since the two branches of Christianity split, nearly 1,000 years ago.

Earlier Tuesday, Pope Francis took a turn around St. Peter's Square in an open-air vehicle to greet the faithful gathered there in his honor. Onlookers waved banners expressing support for the new leader of their church. The new pope paused several times to bless small children and, in one case, a disabled man.

Pope Francis then received the ceremonial ring and woolen shawl given to each pope to represent the first pope -- St. Peter -- and the commandment that the pope act as a shepherd to a Roman Catholic community that now numbers some 1.2 billion.



Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner arrived before Tuesday, to meet with the new pope, who hails from her country. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, a Catholic, also is one of the political leaders in attendance.

In the pope's native Argentina, crowds gathered at the cathedral in the capital, Buenos Aires, in an overnight vigil to celebrate Francis's ascension to the papal throne.

The Vatican has released Pope Francis' new coat of arms, which is similar to the one he used as archbishop of Buenos Aires. It features symbols of Jesus, his mother Mary and her husband Joseph, as well as the new papal trappings of a bishop miter and the crossed keys of the Holy See.

Last week, Pope Francis was elected to replace Pope Benedict, who stepped down, citing his age and health.

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