Nightly News   |  March 16, 2013

Pope Francis offers insight to media

Pope Francis said Saturday he wanted "a poor church for the poor" in his first remarks to the media since he was elected leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics. NBC’s Anne Thompson reports.

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>>> at the vatican today it was time for pope francis to meet the press. and he gave us more insight on his view of the church and what it was like for him at the conclave as he was about to be elected. nbc's anne thompson is at the vatican for us again tonight, anne, good evening.

>> reporter: pope francis told the media the church is a spiritual power, not a political one, and despite all the attention that we've paid to his election, it is christ he said who is at the center of the church, not the pope. but it is how he said what he said and what he said that is making big news. speaking without a text, pope francis lifted the veil of secrecy on the conclave, telling reporters when his election became inevitable, or in his words, dangerous, he was comforted by an old friend who said, don't forget the poor. the pope said he thought of st. francis of assisi , a man of poverty and peace, and took his name. he said he wants a poor church and a church for the poor. father bob barron says this is a shift in emphasis.

>> when we get rid of st. peter's a basilica? no, but i think we might put a stress on the outreach to the poor, our own humility in presenting ourselves.

>> reporter: these three seminarians are studying at the pontiff call north american college . chris kirsch, who worked in government. and deacon jeff walker . he joined the cemetery in college and will be ordained in june. why did you want to welcobecome a priest in an era when the priesthood has been under siege?

>> god works through all sorts of different circumstances. that he's maybe using my vocation and our vocation to bring healing to a world that desperately needs it.

>> my hope in all of those interactions that i have with people is to improve their view and their -- for it to be humanized for them.

>> reporter: can you make the priesthood better?

>> i think you see in the three of us, you see guys that really want to bring a sense of joy into the world. and i think by a smiling face, by not being afraid to get to know people, and we can bring a sense of christ to them.

>> reporter: the change they hope for evident today in how francis greeted selected reporters. even blessing the seeing-eye dog of an italian radio correspondent. now today, pope francis made one administrative move, reacquainting albeit temporarily the heads of the vatican bureaucracy, suggesting there are personnel changes ahead for this much-maligned part of the church. lester?

>> anne thompson , thank you.