Pope Francis has held his first meeting with the College of Cardinals.
Since his election on Wednesday night as the first non-European pope in nearly 1,300 years, Francis has been laying out a clear moral path for the 1.2-billion-member Church, which is beset by scandals, intrigue and strife.
Francis’ initial actions suggest he will bring a new style to the papacy, favouring humility and simplicity over pomp and grandeur.
He also told the cardinals that the role of older people in the Church was to pass on optimism and hope to younger generations looking for spiritual guidance in a modern world full of temptations.
Francis urged Roman Catholic leaders never to give in to pessimism and discouragement, but to keep their eyes on their true mission.
“Let us never give in to the pessimism, to that bitterness, that the devil places before us every day. Let us not give into pessimism and discouragement,” he told cardinals gathered in the Sistine Chapel to greet him.
He briefly stumbled on the step down from his throne but quickly recovered his balance, demonstrating deft footwork that he may have to display again to help drive the Church into a new scandal free era.
After his address, Francis jovially greeted each of the cardinals in the room. He remained standing while spending about a minute with each of them and often broke into laughter.
It will be several days before he can move in to his papal palace. The Vatican says some repair work still needs to done. In the meantime Francis will sleep in the Santa Martha house, where the cardinals spent the conclave.