Sunday, Sept. 3, 1978
It so happens that today, 3 September, he was elected pope and I am officially beginning my service of the universal Church.
ROME — Pope John Paul I formally inaugurated his pontificate [tonight] with a concelebrated outdoor Mass in St. Peter’s Square while police, supported by armored cars, battled with leftwing demonstrators nearby. The violence broke out during protests against the presence in Rome of President Jorge Videla of Argentina, one of several heads of state attending the pontifical rite. [It does not appear that Rev. Jorge Bergoglio, the Jesuit Provincial Superior in Argentina, traveled to the papal event.]
Sunday’s rite in St. Peter’s Square broke with a church tradition of more than 1,000 years by omitting investiture of the new pontiff with the triple crown or tiara, a medieval symbol of the papacy’s spiritual and temporal powers. [The pope has also] vetoed the gestatorial chair, or portable throne, in which his predecessors had been carried during solemn functions.
In his drive for simplicity in the Vatican, the new pontiff [has] done away with another picturesque tradition. For at least five centuries, whenever a new pope was to be crowned, a chaplain of the pontifical household would hold up a reed with a tuft of flax in front of him. The flax would be lighted, flare up for a moment, and extinguish. The chaplain would intone the traditional reminder of the transitoriness of fame and honors: “Holy Father, thus passeth away the world’s glory.”
In a homily that the pope delivered during Sunday’s mass, he thanked god in Latin for his “humanly inexplicable” elevation to the papacy.
In his inauguration Mass homily, the pope spoke of St. Peter, the first pope, and closed invoking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
“You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church” are the weighty, great and solemn words that Jesus speaks to Simon, son of John, after his profession of faith. This profession of faith was not the product of the Bethsaida fisherman’s human logic or the expression of any special insight of his or the effect of some psychological impulse; it was rather the mysterious and singular result of a real revelation of the Father in heaven. Jesus changes Simon’s name to Peter, thus signifying the conferring of a special mission. He promises to build on him his Church, which will not be overthrown by the forces of evil or death. He grants him the keys of the kingdom of God, thus appointing him the highest official of his Church, and gives him the power to interpret authentically the law of God. In view of these privileges, or rather these superhuman tasks entrusted to Peter, Saint Augustine points out to us: “Peter was by nature simply a man, by grace a Christian, by still more abundant grace one of the Apostles and at the same time the first of the Apostles.”
Surrounded by your love and upheld by your prayer, we begin our apostolic service by invoking, as a resplendent star on our way, the Mother of God, Mary, Salus Populi Romani [Safety of the Roman people], and Mater Ecclesiae [Mother of the Church], whom the Liturgy venerates in a special way in this month of September. May Our Lady, who guided with delicate tenderness our life as a boy, as a seminarian, as a priest and as a bishop, continue to enlighten and direct our steps, in order that, as Peter’s voice and with our eyes and mind fixed on her Son Jesus, we may proclaim in the world with joyous firmness our profession of faith: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Amen.
One by one, the cardinals walked up the steps of the basilica to kneel before the new pope and kiss his ring in their first act of reverence. They received from him the “kiss of faith” a kiss on both cheeks.
At time 3:30 in the inauguration footage below, we see the pope receiving homage from Cardinals Ratzinger and Wojtyla.
Rome — A powerful bomb exploded [tonight] at the residence of the pope’s vicar [at the Lateran Basilica] in Rome four hours after Pope John Paul I was installed as head of the world’s Roman Catholics in ceremonies at St. Peter’s Basilica.
There were no injuries.
Some disgruntled partisans in the United States expressed their grievances using much more peaceful means:
Football Fans Complain About Pope on TV (St. Petersburg Times)