Mar. 19 - Pope Francis issues a strong appeal for the protection of the environment and the defence of the weakest members of society, leaving many hopeful after his inaugural Mass. Sarah Sheffer reports.
Pope Francis prays at the tomb of St. Peter before entering St. Peter's Square to address a crowd of thousands, here to see the new pontiff celebrate his inaugural Mass. Many hope the new pope will bring renewal to the scandal-plagued Roman Catholic Church. The pope accepted his new papal ring-- made of gold-plated silver rather than the traditional solid gold. Addressing the crowd, Francis appealed for everyone to respect the weakest in society. (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) LEADER OF ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, POPE FRANCIS, SAYING: "It means respecting each of God's creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about." Pilgrims leaving after the Mass said they had high hopes for a more humble papacy under Francis, who as a Jesuit has taken a vow of poverty. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ARGENTINIAN PILGRIM MARIA SOLE OTON "I think at some point, he will lower his head and be together with all of us. He is not interested in top brass or those things, he's not ostentatious, he's pure humility," said one pilgrim. Francis will receive visiting political leaders in the basilica following the ceremony.