“Good Morning America” anchors Robin Roberts and Josh Elliott met Pope Francis today after he used his weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square to focus attention on the poor as millions of Catholics worldwide prepare for Christmas.
“I know when he came near us, and we had a chance to meet with him, we really were filled with a moment of reverence,” Elliott said. “There was a moment of calm and peace that surrounds him.”
“It was remarkable.”
Reflecting on the meaning of Christmas, Pope Francis urged the faithful “not to place ourselves above others, but rather lower ourselves, place ourselves at the service of the poor, make ourselves small and poor with them.”
Quoting Matthew 25: 35-46, the pontiff said “Whoever has nourished, welcomed, visited, loved one of the least and poorest of men, will have done this to the Son of God. On the contrary, whoever has rejected, forgotten, ignored one of the least and poorest of men, will have done this to God himself.”
“Let us act so that our brothers and sisters never feel alone! Our presence in solidarity by their side expresses not only through the words of but also through the eloquence of deeds that God is close to everyone,” he added in his address.
When Roberts and Elliott met the pope after his address, Roberts says she was struck by both the amount time he spent with people and the request he made to her directly.
“I told him that I was from America and he said, ‘Please pray for me,’” Roberts said. “The pope asking, ‘Please pray for me,’ was quite a moment.”
Since being elected in March, Francis has quickly gained a reputation as the people’s pope and was chosen as Time magazine’s Person of the Year.
“We really saw it all on display today,” Elliott said. “Even as he encouraged all to be rays of light for hope, especially for the poor in the world, he also was a man of the people, receiving all the young, the sick and the aged and, to his immediate right, the champion Argentinean soccer team, of which he is a proud supporter.”
This pope is changing the face of Catholicism around the world, according to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York.
“I mean, everybody from the bartender to the cab driver [is] telling me, ‘Cardinal Dolan, we love this guy. We’re not even Catholic, and we might not even be believers, but this guy is getting us thinking about God and eternal things.’”
Pope Francis, born in Argentina as Jorge Mario Bergoglio, celebrated his 77th birthday on Tuesday by plucking three homeless men from the streets of Rome to eat breakfast with them.
He is known for embracing the sick, visiting the poor and having fun with those who come to see him. He even posed for a photo with a newlywed couple, clowning around with the gleeful duo.
He is a social media star, with more than 8 million followers connected to his various Twitter accounts. The pope manages nine different Twitter domains, from English to Arabic.
Pope Francis is a pope of firsts. He is the first non-European pope in 1,200 years, leading a church of 1.2 billion Catholics. He is the first Jesuit pope in history. Pope Francis is the first to choose St. Francis of Assisi as his namesake, and he is also the first to be ordained a priest after Vatican II.
He is no stranger to changing career paths: Pope Francis has worn the hats of a janitor, nightclub bouncer, chemical technician and a teacher of literature. Most recently, he was caught trading his papal skullcap for a hat from some enthusiastic Boston College students.
A man of simplicity, the pope abandoned the papal apartments for the Vatican guesthouse. He also takes public transportation and has traded in the papal Mercedes for a Ford Focus.
Known for his accessibility, the pope spent Holy Thursday washing and kissing the feet of young women and Muslim prisoners. He also welcomed a young boy who ran onto the altar during his homily, even allowing the child to sit in his chair.
Acts like these have made an impression with people all over the world, Dolan said.
“What we were after was a good pastor with a track record of a solid administration, but fatherly, warm, tender care for the sheep, for his people,” said Dolan.
“And, boy, we got that on steroids with Pope Francis. He’s the world’s parish priest.”
ABC News’ Anthony Castellano contributed to this report.