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Francis issues first remarks as pope

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina has issued his first statement as the newly-elected Pope Francis I.

In his opening remarks as pope on Wednesday, which were posted on the Vatican web site, Francis offered his thanks for the welcome he has received from the diocesan community of Rome. He also acknowledged his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned from the papacy a few weeks ago.

"I would say a prayer pray for our Bishop Emeritus Benedict XVI. Let us all pray together for him, that the Lord bless him and Our Lady protect him," he said.

Afterwards, Francis urged prayer for one another. "Let us pray for the whole world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood . My hope is that this journey of the Church that we begin today, together with help of my Cardinal Vicar, be fruitful for the evangelization of this beautiful city."

Francis also prayed that Almighty God protect and guard the Pope so that he may lead the Church for many years to come, and that he would grant peace to the Church throughout the world. He also gave his first blessing Urbi et Orbi - to the city and the world.

"I will now give my blessing to you and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will," he said. "Brothers and sisters, I am leaving you. Thank you for your welcome. Pray for me and I will be with you again soon.

"We will see one another soon.

"Tomorrow I want to go to pray the Madonna, that she may protect Rome.

"Good night and sleep well!"

Bergoglio, 76, became the first pontiff from the Americas and the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium. He chose the name Francis, associating himself with the humble 13th-century Italian preacher who lived a life of poverty.

The longtime archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio is the son of middle-class Italian immigrants and is known as a humble man who denied himself the luxuries that previous Buenos Aires cardinals enjoyed.

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