- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 26, 2013

Pope Francis went off-script during his Christmas Day Mass celebration Wednesday to ask nonbelievers and believers alike to work for peace.

In his remarks, he addressed “nonbelievers,” which many took to mean atheists, but could also be people from other religious faiths, Father Edward Beck said Thursday on CNN.

“Here’s a man who just used that small moment to reach out to somebody in a way that is unique,” said the host of “The Sunday Mass.”

While some polls have shown that there is not a “Pope Francis effect,” Mr. Beck said he has seen new people at church, which he attributes to the popularity of the new pope.

“Numbers are definitely up. People come up to me after Mass, and I haven’t see them before,” he said. “They said I’m here because of Pope Francis.”