Pope Francis urges ambassadors to protect poor
Evokes St Francis of Assisi at ambassadors' audience22 March, 16:02
"However, there can be no peace without truth," he said. The Argentine pope who was elected to replace Benedict at a conclave of cardinals last week also told the diplomats from 180 countries that it was not possible "to claim one's own rights without also working for the good of others".
The pope also noted that one of his titles as Bishop of Rome was "pontiff, builder of bridges, with God and among men".
The former archbishop of Buenos Aires added that all countries had responsibility to build bridges in pursuit of "ever greater love for our world".
"As you know my family has Italian origins and so I have always been engaged in dialogue between remote places and cultures, between one end of the earth and the other," Francis told the diplomats.
"Today (these places and cultures) are increasingly close and interdependent and in need of meeting each other and creating real space for genuine brotherhood," he added. 'Pontifex', Latin for bridge-maker, was a title used by ancient Roman high priests and later taken over by emperors.
Religion plays an "essential" role in building bridges for peace, Francis stressed.
"It is not possible to build bridges without encountering God" but "nor is it possible to have true ties with God while ignoring other people", he said.
The pope, who was elected at a conclave of cardinals on March 13, again recalled St Francis in underscoring the importance of upholding the Franciscan founder's teaching of respect for all creation and care for the environment, "which all too often we do not use for good, but eagerly exploit inflicting reciprocal damage".
Continuing the humble approach that has marked his 10-day-old papacy, Francis did not sit on the traditional papal throne but on a plain white chair set on a small dais.
In yet another break with tradition, Francis addressed the ambassadors in Italian rather than in the traditional diplomatic language of French.
Francis, the first South American pope, was elected after Benedict stunned the world by becoming the first pope in 600 years to abdicate.