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Huge crowds in Argentina celebrate papal inauguration

Argentines watched the inaugural Mass on a giant screen next to the Metropolitan Cathedral in Buenos Aires.

REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian

Argentines watched the inaugural Mass on a giant screen next to the Metropolitan Cathedral in Buenos Aires.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - Argentines holding vigil in their capital’s central Plaza de Mayo before Tuesday’s papal installation ceremony erupted in joy when Pope Francis called at 3:30 a.m. local time urging them to cast aside their conflicts and take care of each other.

‘‘My dear children, I know you’re in the plaza,’’ he said during the call, which he made just an hour before his ceremony began in St. Peter’s Square. His words were routed to loudspeakers and transmitted live by television and radio across Argentina.

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‘‘I know that you’re praying and making prayers, I need them very much,’’ he added.

Francis asked the people to care for each other and that there should be no hate, conflicts or jealousy.

And, finally: ‘‘Don’t forget that this bishop who is far away loves you very much. Pray for me,’’ he concluded.

‘‘Thank you Bergoglio. Welcome to the Pope!’’ many shouted. ‘‘Viva Argentina, viva el Papa, viva la Iglesia!’’

Watching on four huge screens set up outside the plaza’s Metropolitan Cathedral, many spent the entire night holding vigil before Tuesday’s Vatican ceremony began, hours before dawn Argentina time. Other churches around the country also stayed opened all night and set up television screens in plazas.

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‘‘We’re so proud to have an Argentine pope, and I think this will help renovate the Church, something that it needs so much,’’ Mariana Di Prospero said. Her son, Juan Martin Cazzos, 16, carried a sign saying ‘‘The youth with you returns to the church with strength and faith.’’

Maria Oviedo came with other Catholic nuns and teachers from their school, and also stayed all night. ‘‘We have the highest hopes’’ for this papacy, she said, recalling how when he was cardinal of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio came to visit ‘‘La Ferrere,’’ her neighborhood in Buenos Aires.

Federico Rizzo, 16, wrapped himself in an Argentine flag and spoke of his pride: ‘‘These are so many situations that don’t happen every day. I'm so hopeful because he’s a person who is so humble and simple that the only thing he wants is to help others.’’

Older people marveled at their ability to see one of their own at the Vatican on the huge screens.

‘‘I'm 70 years old. Look at what technology can do,’’ said Cesar Derganz, a philosopher from Argentina’s remote northern Salta province, with tears in his eyes. ‘‘I'm watching this event in the Vatican. Before, only the rich could go. My ancestors could never even imagine this.’’

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Associated Press Writer Jorge Sainz in Rome contributed to this report.

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