Nightly News | March 13, 2014
>>> finally tonight, it was a year ago that pope francis stepped onto the world stage walking onto that vatican balcony, a little known cardinal from argentina who would become one of the best known and best loved. now it is called the francis effect. anne thompson watched it happen.
>> reporter: pope francis is the shepherd who loves to be close to his sheep. comforting the sick, walking with the poor, welcoming a scene-stealing child. at ease, with an accessability nobody predicted a year ago.
>> he looked out at the crowd, i thought oh my goodness this man is overwhelmed.
>> reporter: instead, he would overwhelm the world, simply by being himself. in his first eight months, drawing 6.8 million people to the vatican, nearly triple the number that came in all of 2012 . it has been a surprising year for an institution under fire and resistant to change. this pope asked people to pray for him as he did on twitter today and that first night. and i had a front row seat for much of it. meeting pope francis on his flight for world youth day . hearing him ask, who am i to judge on the way back? and a private audience in january with the university of notre dame . he is listening to the faithful. trying to learn as they follow catholic teachings on contraception and divorce, a dialogue welcomed at the church of the holy trinity in new york city . these two met and married here.
>> because he spoke that message i feel comfortable in saying no, come back, it is really not what you imagine it to be or how it was like when you were a kid.
>> reporter: so far, no improvement in church attendance, but this churchgoer is optimistic.
>> after the hearts were filled, seats will follow.
>> reporter: in chicago?
>> i said i'm a campus minister, i work at loyola. they said i love your boss, i said how do you know my boss? pope francis .
>> reporter: had e is a shepherd happy among his flock. anne