March 19th, 2013
06:06 AM ET
By Hada Messia and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
Rome (CNN) - Through a square bustling with tourists, locals, pilgrims and dignitaries, Pope Francis made his way atop an open-top vehicle on Tuesday en route to a Mass that will officially inaugurate him Bishop of Rome.
He wore the simple iron cross he wore as a cardinal and which he had on when he first appeared to the world as pope.
When the gathered faithful at St. Peter's Square held up babies and young children for him to kiss, he obliged.
He also stepped out of his sports utility vehicle to kiss the head of a man with a physical disability.
Even though at least a dozen security officers in suits walked alongside the SUV as he circled the square, his decision to bypass the Popemobile, which his last two predecessors used, was telling.
The Mercedes Benz G-Class SUV afforded him the kind of direct contact with people he has embraced since becoming pope.
Had he been in the Popemobile, he would have been behind bulletproof glass, which was installed in 1981 after an assassination attempt on John Paul II.
The ceremony - the "Mass inaugurating the Petrine Ministry of the Bishop of Rome" - will be short in keeping with the spirit of simplicity embraced by the new Holy Father, the Vatican has said, lasting about two hours.
Francis has already made an impression as a pope of the people, who is concerned about the welfare of the poor. But he inherits a church wracked by a decades-old sexual abuse scandal and claims of corruption in the clergy.FULL STORY
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