Nightly News   |  March 19, 2013

Pope prioritizes service, environment on first day

Eager crowds greeted Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square, where he described the importance of helping the poor and the weak. NBC’s Anne Thompson reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> now we turn to the vatican . a remarkable scene in st. peter's square. pope francis was out in the crowd kissing babies , issues a call to action . nbc's anne thompson was there. in fact, anne, you got caught up in it briefly this morning.

>> reporter: we did, indeed, brian. and, in fact, by vatican standards this was a such simpler ceremony and certainly one that was much shorter. an hour less than benedict's mass eight years ago. another change in style revealing more about this pope named francis . today pope francis preached with action as well as words. climbing out of his open air jeep to bless a disabled man, stopping to kiss children, and urging the 200,000 people in st. peter's square to be protectors of the poor, the weak, and the environment.

>> i i thithink he's going to challenge all of us to live a deeper life of faith.

>> reporter: crowds raced into the square. they saw francis receive the symbols of power -- a lamb's wool stole and the papal fisherman's ring. during mass to an audience that included several world leaders -- [ speaking in a foreign language ] -- francis said authentic power is service. and the pope, too, must serve.

>> he seems like a very humble man. someone the people can reach out and identify with.

>> reporter: in buenos aires where francis was a cardinal, jubilation. they stayed up all night to watch the early morning mass and were rewarded by a phone call from the pontiff, who asked them to take care of one another and pray for him. francis 's first job says new york cardinal timothy dolan is to clean up the vatican bureaucracy.

>> i think he will choose a strong organization man who can restore pizzazz, transparency to the curia.

>> reporter: francis shared a moment with joe biden , a man with a gentle, approachable demeanor, now charged with restoring the faith of so many shattered by scandal.

>> the church is not a one-man show. he's not going to do it all. but if he can inspire 1.2 billion catholics to be missionaries then the church has a very bright future around the world.

>> reporter: now pope francis made another phone call today. this time to benedict, pope emeritus who watched the mass on television. the two will meet this weekend. brian?