Pope installed as Bishop of Rome
Published 07/04/2013 | 19:11
Pope Francis has been formally installed as Bishop of Rome in a ceremony characterised by more simplicity than the usual rituals and pomp enjoyed by papal predecessors taking up their pastoral duties.
In yet another sign that Francis sees his mission as pontiff as one of humble service, he used his arrival at St John in Lateran Basilica to honour a past pope who remains wildly popular in Rome.
Francis arrived 30 minutes early to bless a plaque renaming a corner of the piazza outside the church after Pope John Paul II, who died in 2005.
Francis applauded, then gave his blessing after Rome's mayor unveiled the simple white stone plaque marking Giovanni Paolo II Square in a section of the vast piazza, which often hosts free rock concerts and political and union rallies.
The pope, who has stressed the importance of simplicity, arrived for the unveiling wearing a plain white cassock, a more modest wardrobe choice than that of the Italian cardinal who welcomed him wearing a red cape.
The early evening installation ceremony was a significant one for the church, since a pope is pontiff because he is the bishop of Rome, and not vice versa. Right after his election on March 13 as the church's first pope from Latin America, Francis made clear he would relish his pastoral role as the city's bishop.
Francis' insistence on his bishop's role "speaks to his sensibility in truly being the pastor of a church through concrete ways," Cardinal Agostino Vallini told Vatican Radio ahead of the installation ceremony.