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Pope Francis stands on the popemobile surrounded by security staff during his inauguration Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: VINCENZO PINTO / AFP / Getty Images

Pope Francis waves to the crowd from the popemobile during his inauguration Mass.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP / Getty Images

Crowds gather during the Inauguration Mass for Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images

A nun looks on during the inauguration Mass for Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Pope Francis greets members of the faithful as he makes his way around St. Peter's Square.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images

A crowd of up to 1 million pilgrims and faithful was expected to filled St. Peter's Square.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Cardinals, spiritual leaders and heads of state from around the world gather for the inauguration Mass.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images

Priests pray during the Mass for the inauguration of Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Alessandra Tarantino / Associated Press

Bishops gather during the inauguration Mass for Pope Francis.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images

A bishop takes his place past St. Peter's statue in St. Peter's Square hours ahead of the grandiose Mass to inaugurate Pope Francis.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP / Getty Images

A man holds a placard reading "We are with you Pope Francis" during the inauguration Mass.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: VINCENZO PINTO / AFP / Getty Images

Pope Francis waves to the crowd from the popemobile during his inauguration Mass.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: VINCENZO PINTO / AFP / Getty Images

Crowds watch on video monitors as Pope Francis reads the Gospel during his inaugural Mass.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Sohn / Associated Press

The faithful wave flags during the Inauguration Mass for Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

A woman holds a picture of Pope Francis as she watches a live broadcast of his inauguration Mass on a screen set up outside of the Metropolitan Cathedral.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Natacha Pisarenko / Associated Press

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By Henry Chu

VATICAN CITY — Before crowned heads, government leaders and masses of the faithful, Pope Francis formally took office Tuesday as head of the Roman Catholic Church in a ceremony replete with pageantry and symbols from ancient Christendom.

In a homily, the church’s 266th pontiff exhorted his listeners and 1.2 billion followers to care for the environment and for other people, especially the poor and forgotten — themes closely associated with the saint whose name he picked for his own as pope, Francis of Assisi.

“Let us be protectors of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment,” said Francis, the first pontiff from the Americas. “Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world.”

With majestic St. Peter’s Basilica looming behind him, the 76-year-old pontiff addressed tens of thousands of pilgrims massed in St. Peter’s Square, some of whom camped out overnight to make sure they could corner a good spot.

Read full story: Pope Francis takes office

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