MARCH 19 2013 18:55h

Croatian president attends pope's inauguration

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Croatian President Ivo Josipovic headed a Croatian delegation at the inaugural Mass by Pope Francis and described the ceremony as exceptionally dignified and that he had an opportunity to exchange a few words with the new pope.

"The ceremony was exceptionally dignified, it carried a message and in particular I would point out the pope's words calling us to find humanity in ourselves, to show solidarity and share care for those in need", President Josipovic told reporters after the inauguration.

We met and we exchanged just a few words, these events are like that, we mentioned Croatia of course and our entry to the EU and for our first meeting that was sufficient", Josipovic said in the Vatican.

He added that from the very beginning of his papacy Pope Francis has sent clear messages of humility and solidarity and that it was possible that the pope would "have the strength to motivate some new social processes perhaps".

The newly installed Bishop of Rome greeted dignitaries from 132 countries and officials of some of the greatest world religions who had come from around the world to attend the inaugural Mass.

President Josipovic and first lady Tatjana Josipovic headed the Croatian delegation consisting of First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Vesna Pusic.

The Mass which inaugurated Francis as Bishop of Rome marked the official start of his papacy.

In a brief homily Pope Francis stressed once again the need to look after the poor and the sick. The true power of the pope is in humble and concrete serving, he said calling on the religious not to be afraid of gentleness.

Around one million people flocked to St. Peter's square to attend the inauguration which is the largest number to have gathered since the beatification of the late Pope John Paul II on May 1, 2011 when 1.5 million people attended.

(Hina)