Nightly News   |  September 11, 2013

Married priests in Catholic Church’s future?

Pope Francis’ number-two man suggests that the idea of doing away with priestly celibacy is open to discussion. NBC’s Chris Jansing reports.

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>>> after startling words from a top official at the vatican on celibacy there is a question getting attention tonight. is the catholic church possibly ready to make a big change where it comes to one of the most sacred vows made by priests? the very question is further indication the vatican is under new management these days. our report from nbc's chris jansing . [ cheers and applause ]

>> reporter: in saint peter 's square today a huge welcome for pope francis 's weekly audience. in the six months he's been pope, crowds have quadrupled drawn by his warm, welcoming style and a new openness. case in point, the suggestion from his new uh number two that married priests is under discussion. it's got people talking.

>> this pope says, hey, we have a gem here. am i open to listening to how we can make it effective? you bet.

>> reporter: no one expects married priests soon. for this pope, subjects like this aren't off the table. pope francis changed the tone in the church plagued by sex scandal emphasizing on helping the poor and social justice . his weekend peace vigil against the war in syria drew more than 100,000, while thousands more around the world fasted and prayed. today in a surprising open letter to an italian newspaper pope francis extended a hand to agnostics and athiests. it's not just what he says. it's what he does. getting close to people, kissing babies , enjoying the crowds that flock to him and many trappings are gone. he drives a 20-year-old renault. he responds to letters.

>> we are seeing a pope less interested in closing doors than he is in opening windows.

>> reporter: what about married priests ? there are a few already who married first and converted to catholocism. father heard has a wife and three kids.

>> some people are aware of the exception. some people are floored. some people say things like, o they let you keep your wife?

>> reporter: a different take on the priesthood. as pope francis shapes a new catholic church . chris jansing , nbc news, new york.