Pope Francis has inaugurated his papacy at a Mass in Rome, calling on global leaders and all the people of the world to defend the poor and the weak.
Up to 200,000 people attended the Mass in St Peter’s Square.
His homily focused on protection – of the environment, children, the elderly and those in need, who he said were “often the last we think about”.
Francis said the pope himself must be inspired by the lowly – “the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those who Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, those in prison”.
Francis had begun the day by touring St Peter’s Square in an open-topped Popemobile, the BBC reports.
At one point he stepped down from the vehicle and approached the barriers to bless a disabled man.
Francis spent 20 minutes touring the square, waving to the pilgrims who flew flags and shouted: “Long live the Pope!”
As the Mass began, Francis was presented with his papal pallium made of lambs’ wool – symbolising his role as shepherd of his flock – and the fisherman’s ring bearing the image of St Peter holding two keys.
With this, Francis officially began his office as the 266th pope.
Communion was distributed by some 500 priests throughout the crowd.
The Mass was co-celebrated by around 180 clergymen, including Adolfo Nicolas, the superior general of Pope Francis’ Jesuit order.
The list of attendees also included the spiritual head of the Orthodox Church, Patriarch Bartholomew.
He is the first Orthodox patriarch to attend a papal inauguration Mass since the two branches of Christianity split nearly 1,000 years ago.
The Pope later greeted the assembled dignitaries individually in St Peter’s Basilica.