Pope Opens Ministry with Call to Serve Poor, Weak

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Pope Francis officially began his ministry Tuesday as the 266th pope, with tens of thousands gathering for the installation mass.

"I want to ask a favor," Francis told the crowd. "I want to ask you to walk together, and take care of one another. ... And don't forget that this bishop who is far away loves you very much. Pray for me."

Pope Francis emphasized the importance of serving "the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and those in prison."

"Today amid so much darkness we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others," he continued.

"To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope, it is to let a shaft of light break through the heavy clouds," he said.

For nearly an hour the 76-year-old pontiff thrilled the crowd by taking a long round-about trip through St. Peter's Square in an open-air jeep.

He waved to well wishers and kissed several babies. He even got out of his jeep to bless a disabled man.

The mass drew political leaders from 132 nations and religious representatives from a variety of faiths.

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