After asking Argentinians not to come to Rome and give to the poor instead, Pope Francis called a large gathering to tell them he loves them and needs their prayers.
“Do not forget this bishop who is far but loves you a lot” and “pray for me” were the last words of the message he delivered with a 3:30 a.m. telephone call.
his countrymen gathered at the Plaza de Mayo in the country’s capital,
Buenos Aires, to watch his installation Mass on huge television screens
placed across the cathedral.
“I know you are in the square. I know you are praying, and I need your prayers a lot,” said Pope Francis on May 19, just two hours before the Mass in Rome was set to begin.
It is “so beautiful to pray,” he remarked, inviting his fellow Argentinians to “walk together” with him.
“Let us protect each other, do not hurt each other, and protect life,” said Pope Francis, reinforcing what he had said in Italian during his homily at the Vatican.
“Protect the family, nature, children, the elderly,” he said.
“Let there not be hate, no fighting, put envy aside and do not criticize.”
He asked his countrymen to “talk with each other” and to “keep alive the wish of wanting to protect each other.”
“May your hearts enlarge and may you get closer to God, who is good and always forgives and understands, so do not be afraid of him,” said Pope Francis.
Two hours later he presided over the March 19 Mass that officially started his ministry, although he became the Pope the moment he accepted the vote of the cardinals on March 13.
“Protect creation, protect everyone, especially the poor” was his main message during the homily that he preached to around 200,000 people in St. Peter’s Square.
He also underscored the importance of every person taking responsibility for protecting their hearts and emotions, “because they are the seat of good and evil intentions: intentions that build up and tear down!”
Pope Francis’ next meeting will be on
March 20 with Christian delegations that came for his installation, and
on March 22 he will meet with the diplomats accredited to the Vatican.