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Pope Francis holds first Angelus prayer


Vatican City, Mar 17 (EFE) - Pope Francis told the approximately 300,000 people who gathered Sunday in St. Peter's Square for his first Angelus prayer that God "never tires" of forgiving.

"If God did not forgive us all, the world would not exist," the pope told the crowd in Italian during the 15-minute prayer.

The pontiff asked the crowd to accompany him and pray for him, repeating the message he delivered on March 13 after being elected the 266th pope of the Roman Catholic Church.

Francis reflected on Sunday's Gospel reading, which was about forgiveness.

"In this fifth Sunday of Lent, the Gospel presents us with the story of the adulterous woman whom Jesus saves from being condemned to death. It captures Jesus' attitude: we do not hear words of contempt, we do not hear words of condemnation, but only words of love, of mercy, that invite us to conversion," the pope said.

The pontiff asked the faithful to think about the Gospel story's meaning.

"Have you thought about God's patience, the patience that He has with each of us? That is His mercy. He always has patience, is always patient with us, understanding us, awaiting us, never tiring of forgiving us if we know how to return to him with a contrite heart," the 76-year-old Pope Francis said.

The pope expressed his thanks to the huge crowd that turned out for his first Angelus.

"Thank you for your welcome and your prayers. I ask that you pray for me. I renew my embrace to the faithful of Rome and extend it to all of you who have come from various parts of Italy and the world just as to those who are joining in with us by means of the media," the pope said. "I have chosen the name of the patron saint of Italy, St. Francis of Assisi, and this reinforces my spiritual ties to this land that, as you know, is where my family originated."

The crowd filled St. Peter's Square with applause in response to the pope's words.

"Have a good Sunday and enjoy your lunch!" Pope Francis told the crowd.