He again opted not to wear the traditional Papal mozetta – or cape – but just a simple white cassock. While some have pointed to his age (76) as a drawback, the Argentine Pope clearly sees it as a strength. Speaking of the wisdom of the College of Cardinals he said: “Let’s give this knowledge to young people, like fine wine that gets better with age, let’s give young people the knowledge of life.”
Referring to his predecessor Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, he said Benedict had “lit a flame deep in our hearts, which will continue to burn because it will be fed by his prayers, which will still support the Church in her spiritual and missionary journey.”
Pope Francis recalled his predecessor’s message that it is Christ through his spirit, not individuals, leading the Church through history.
“We never give in to pessimism, that bitterness that the devil offers us every day,” knowing the Holy Spirit’s life-giving and unifying force is at work, he told the cardinals.
“We have the firm certainty that the Holy Spirit gives the Church, with its powerful breeze, the courage to persevere and also to find new methods of evangelisation, to bring the Gospel to the far ends of the earth.
“The Christian truth is attractive and persuasive because it responds to humanity’s deepest needs,” he said, adding that the Gospel is as valid and applicable to the world today as it was thousands of years ago.
There was an audible gasp in the press centre as the Pope tripped, but did not fall, after he stood up from the Papal throne evidently not realising it was on a platform elevated a few steps off the ground.
Pope Francis yesterday delighted Roman school children by paying a fleeting visit to the Basilica of St Mary Major where he prayed before a revered icon of the Mother of God.
The Pope is due to meet journalists tomorrow morning for a brief audience. All eyes, however, will be on his inauguration homily. Popes don’t offer a manifesto, but his address will be keenly-watched for clues about the direction he will lead the Church during his Pontificate.