Nightly News   |  March 13, 2014

Pope Asks for Prayer After an Remarkable First Year as Pontiff

Just one year ago Pope Francis stepped onto the world stage and began to transform the Catholic Church.

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

>>> 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