TODAY   |  March 17, 2013

Pope draws laughs during 1st Sunday address

“It’s nice to be here to say hi to you all,” said Pope Francis to a crowd of thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square Sunday. In his first Angelus blessing of his pontificate, the pope spoke about forgiveness. NBC’s Keir Simmons reports.

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

>>> the vatican where pope francis wrapped up his first sunday blessing before a massive crowd. kyu kier simmons is live for us again. good morning.

>> reporter: good morning, lester. it was a spellbinding appearance. you can see lots of people still here. there were thousands of people here in st. peter's square to see the pope for the first time from the papal apartment , the window of the papal apartment up there. he really didn't disappoint. once again, showing that the formal, relaxed style we have seen in the last few days, beginning by saying bonjorno, saying it's nice to be here, to say hi to you all. even when he was talking, joking again. the theme of his sermon was about forgiveness, and he talked about cardinal book he was reading by one cardinal. and he looked and said to the people, you know, i'm not making a commercial for this book, just so you know. the people laughed. so that was another example of how he's very simply talking directly, even to thousands of people here in the square. let me give you another example. look at this, this morning, before he appeared at the window, before mass, he saw a group of a few hundred people and went over, because he saw a couple of priests that he knew in the crowd. he went over. everyone was cheering. and he embraced these priests before going to mass. so once again, pope francis showing a real man of the people side.

>> and what kind of reaction are the people offering him, this personal touch that he's extending?

>> reporter: well, you know, they do seem to absolutely love it, lester. people were laughing right from the beginning, smiling, really enjoying him. i suppose you would expect the people in the square here would be here and would enjoy it, because of the people they are. but at the same time, for example, there seemed to be more people to see him than when pope benedict was here saying good-bye, just a few weeks ago.

>> he seems to be getting off to a great start. kier simmons, thanks very much. tuesday on "today," matt lauer will be live at the vatican with complete coverage of the installation mass for pope francis .