Pilgrims hope Francis can revive Church with simple values

Tue Mar 19, 2013 10:45am EDT
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By Catherine Hornby

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pilgrims who flocked to Rome for the inaugural Mass of Pope Francis on Tuesday had high hopes he can reform and revive the Catholic Church, bring it closer to ordinary people and focus global attention on helping the poor.

"Ideas are changing under Francis. The powerful have to finally understand they can't destroy the world for money," said Francisca Fernandes, a psychologist who traveled to Rome from Patagonia in Argentina for the inauguration.

People watched and cheered as Francis toured St. Peter's Square in an open white jeep, frequently stopping to greet the crowds and kiss babies. Many of them said they were struck by the new pope's openness and accessibility.

"He has a very special presence, his smile and attitude. I feel close to him," said Veronique Blaise, a 40-year-old purchasing manager from Paris. "We need someone sincere and simple like him to bring back traditional values."

Up to 200,000 people waving flags and banners crammed into the square to hear a homily in which Francis appealed for the protection of the environment and the defense of the weakest in society.

"He touched me the most when he was talking about the poor, the sick and the aged - he has the world at heart," said Rev. Emmanuel Korsah, a priest from Ghana studying Church law at a Catholic university in Rome.

"There will be a lot of challenges, but he means to face them, in the name of St. Francis and with the lifestyle of simplicity he wants to live," he said.

Others noted that the Jesuit pope's humble style was a clear break with the past.   Continued...

Pope Francis arrives in Saint Peter's Square for his inaugural mass at the Vatican, March 19, 2013. REUTERS/Paul Hanna