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March 19, 2013
Pope Francis urges protection of nature, weak

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- 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 Francis 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, Francis 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."

The Argentine native is the first pope from Latin America and the first named for the 13th-century friar St. Francis of Assisi, whose life's work was to care for nature, the poor and most disadvantaged.

(24 images)




Pope Francis waves to crowds as he arrives to his inauguration Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. AP / Gregorio Borgia
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Nuns walk through a tunnel leading towards St. Peter's Square to attend the inauguration of Pope Francis at the Vatican, early Tuesday, March 19, 2013. Pope Francis urged princes, presidents, sheiks and thousands of ordinary people gathered for his installation Mass on Tuesday to protect the environment, the weakest and the poorest, mapping out a clear focus of his priorities as leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics. AP / Oded Balilty
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Priests line up in St. Peter's Square for Pope Francis' installation Mass, at the Vatican, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. AP / Andrew Medichini
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A flag from Argentina waves in the foreground as Pope Francis, bottom, is driven through the crowd prior to his inaugural Mass, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. Pope Francis thrilled tens of thousands of people on Tuesday gathered for his installation Mass, taking a long round-about through St. Peter's Square and getting out of his jeep to bless a disabled man in a wheelchair in the crowd. AP / Domenico Stinellis
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Pope Francis waves as he is driven through the crowd prior to his inaugural Mass, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. AP / Andrew Medichini
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Pope Francis waves as he is driven through the crowd prior to his inaugural Mass, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. AP / Dmitry Lovetsky
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Pope Francis waves to crowds as he arrives to his inauguration Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. AP / Gregorio Borgia
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Pope Francis waves to crowds as he arrives to his inauguration Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. AP / Alessandra Tarantino
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Pope Francis waves as he arrives in St. Peter's Square for his inauguration Mass at the Vatican, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. AP / Michael Sohn
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Pope Francis waves to crowds as he arrives to his inauguration Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. AP / Oded Balilty
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Pope Francis gives the thumbs up to the crowd as he arrives in St. Peter's Square for his inauguration Mass at the Vatican, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. AP / Gregorio Borgia
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Pope Francis waves as he arrives in St. Peter's Square for his inauguration Mass at the Vatican, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. AP / Michael Sohn
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Pope Francis reaches out to touch a child as he arrives to his inauguration Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. AP / Michael Sohn
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Pope Francis waves incense around the alter before his inauguration Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. AP / Gregorio Borgia
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Pope Francis celebrates his installation Mass as cardinals stand around him, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. AP / Andrew Medichini
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Cardinals attend Pope Francis' inaugural Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. AP / Andrew Medichini
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Cardinals attend Pope Francis' inaugural Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. Pope Francis has officially begun his ministry as the 266th pope, receiving the ring symbolizing the papacy and a wool stole symbolizing his role as shepherd of his 1.2-billion strong flock. AP / Andrew Medichini
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Pope Francis walks past the alter in front of St. Peter's Basilica in St. Peter's Square following his inauguration Mass at the Vatican, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. AP / Gregorio Borgia
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An Argentine flag is waved in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. AP / Andrew Medichini
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A priest, center, delivers communion to the faithful in St. Peter's Square during the inauguration Mass for Pope Francis at the Vatican, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. AP / Oded Balilty
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People pray in St. Peter's Square during the inauguration of Pope Francis at the Vatican, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. AP / Oded Balilty
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A priest delivers communion to the faithful in St. Peter's Square during the inauguration Mass for Pope Francis at the Vatican, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. AP / Domenico Stinellis
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Nuns listen as Pope Francis reads the gospel during his inaugural Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. AP / Gregorio Borgia
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People listen to Pope Francis' homily during his inaugural Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. AP / Gregorio Borgia

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