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Pope Francis Officially Begins Ministry at Vatican

  • Tatenda Gumbo

Pope Francis celebrated his inauguration Tuesday with a mass in St. Peter’s Square in Rome where he called on global leaders and all to defend the poor, the weak and the environment.

Receiving the papal ring and other symbols of his office, Francis, the first pontiff from the Americas, said world leaders should shun hate, envy and pride, and put the poor first.

He said leadership and power are about service.

As many as 200,000 people, including President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace, attended the mass in St. Peter's Square.

Pope Francis was elected by cardinals last week to take over from Benedict XVI, the first pontiff in 600 years to resign. The 85-year old Benedict said he is too old to continue in the post.

Gift Mambipiri, the executive director of the Jesuit communities of Zimbabwe, told VOA the Pope’s inauguration has filled many in the church with joy.

He said Pope Francis' inclusiveness to others, including other churches, world leaders and all people was admirable. He said he hoped the Pope's legacy would be symbolic and signal the change many have been calling for.