Vatican City

Pope Francis urges protection of material and spiritual poor

First audience with ambassadors to Holy See

Pope Francis urges protection of material and spiritual poor

(updates previous). Vatican City, March 22 - Pope Francis on Friday put the world's many poor at centre stage during his first audience with ambassadors accredited to the Holy See. The recently elected pope called on the diplomatic corps to ''protect those who suffer as a result of poverty'', recalling his namesake St Francis' fight against material poverty and his predecessor Benedict XVI's fight against the spiritual poverty allegedly inherent in the ''dictatorship of relativism''. In yet another break with tradition, Francis addressed the ambassadors in Italian rather than in the traditional diplomatic language of French. Continuing the humble approach that has marked his week-old papacy, Francis did not sit on the traditional papal throne but on a plain white chair set on a small dais. Argentinian Francis, the first South American pope, was elected on March 13 after Benedict became the first pope in 600 years to abdicate.

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