Nightly News   |  September 19, 2013

Pope Francis’ ‘remarkable’ new vision for Catholic Church

The Pope is making headlines once again for his candid interview with “America Magazine,” where he said the Church must not be obsessed with issues related to gay marriage or contraceptives. He called for new balance, warning that if the Catholic Church doesn’t make changes, it could fall like a house of cards. NBC’s Anne Thompson reports.

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>>> the new head of the catholic church , pope francis, has given an interview that contains comments that seem to a lot of people that seems to skip i the church ahead in time many times over. he doesn't act like pred ses source and he sure doesn't talk like a previous pope. for starters he said in the first extended published interview that the church has become, quote, obsessed with preaching abo ining about gays and abortion a abortion. it goes on from there. we get our report tonight from anne thompson . [ cheers and applause ]

>> reporter: in his short pain papacy, he's drawn thousands to the vatican and millions in rio for his first overseas trip. today it's the pope's words making headlines as he spells out his vision of the catholic church in a frank interview published in "america." we cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contra accept ty methods. he said we have to find a new balance. otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards .

>> it's certainly a change in tone. it is a change in approach. we have never had a pope talk to the world like this. it is a remarkable thing.

>> reporter: this pope is focused on peace, leading a prayer vigil for syria this month. highlighting the plight of immigrants. now reaching out to lapsed catholics who if they were a denomination would be the second largest in the country, behind practicing catholics . the pope urging the church to reach auto and listen to the reasons why. this interview followed his impromptu press conference when he said, who am i to judge when asked about a gay priest? the pope says when god looks at a gay person does he en dors the existence of this person with love or reject and condemn this person? we must always consider the person.

>> there are a lot of catholics who go but feel excluded. this message he's given has given an opportunity for them to feel more welcome.

>> reporter: despite the new openness, few expect radical change in the 2,000-year-old institution.

>> this is not saying there will be a reversal in the church position or in church teaching. it is a shift in emphasis a lot of american catholics are welcoming.

>> reporter: the interview wasn't all church business. the pope watched all the classic italian movies as a child and his favorite is about a young woman sold to a street performer . the pope is an opera buff. his favorites include dostoevsky and his favorite composer is moza mozart. he wants the church to be for all, not a few.