Nightly News   |  March 17, 2013

Pope delights faithful in first Sunday address

Pope Francis’s casual style is winning over faithful and becoming the hallmark of his papacy, NBC’s Anne Thompson reports.

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>>> overseas this was the first sunday at the vatican for pope francis who made it clear that he enjoys connecting with the faithful face to face . he spent part of his day working the crowd. nbc's anne thompson was watching it all for us. ann, good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, lester. people who know pope francis say at heart he is a pastor and he showed that today with his actions. like parish priests around the world, pope francis started his day saying sunday mass. opting for tiny st . anna's church where vatican workers worship instead of the grandeur of st . peters. after mass he plunged into the crowd catching his security detail off guard. francis ' casual style already the hallmark of his papacy delighting the faithful. inside st . peter's square, more than 150,000 people waited for his weekly prayer an blessing. young italians singing and dancing. latin americans waving symbols of pride especially the argentineans. speaking off the cuff, the pope talked about forgiveness, urging people to read a book by one of the cardinals, then catching himself saying he's not promoting the book. drawing a a laugh from the crowd.

>> he's a hum had balance holy pope to lead the church and we are happy.

>> reporter: unlike benedict who addressed sunday crowds in several languages, francis only spoke italian. it didn't seem to matter to anyone in the square including these three students from college in virginia.

>> were you disappointed there wasn't any english?

>> he's still the pope and we have this connection with him just by being catholic. it doesn't matter that there's a language barrier .

>> reporter: while many see changes, philadelphia cardinal justin regali hears themes of francis as predecessor.

>> you lear it in his message -- have god has mercy.

>> reporter: the pope did demonstrate his language skills on twitter asking his followers to pray for him. he did that in nine different languages, including english and arabic. lester?