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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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March 28th, 2013
05:53 PM ET

Pope and change: New pope bucking tradition

Today is Holy Thursday, the day when Christians around the world remember the Last Supper Jesus shared with his disciples. In Rome the newly installed Pope Francis has already started changes to the papacy by interacting more with his flock.

Call it Pope and change. Today in Rome, instead of delivering mass to a packed cathedral, new Pope Francis went to prison, getting on his knees to wash the feet of 12 out of nearly 50 inmates of a juvenile detention center, commemorating the act of Jesus washing his disciples' feet

The images today are intended to signal how Francis is mixing things up at the Vatican by putting the poor front and center, and by pursuing more modest trappings.

He kicked off Holy Week by riding through St. Peter's square on Palm Sunday in a pope mobile without bullet proof glass - hopping out to greet the faithful and kiss seemingly every baby in sight.

His sermons are simple and to the point, a departure from his more verbose predecessor Benedict XVI.

"He has a pastor's heart. In that sense he's probably more of a journeyman than a highly accomplished scholar. In the process we'll all get on board with the journeyman and they make the world work," said Monsignor Kevin W. Irwin, a theology professor at the Catholic University of America.

Irwin says the changes are adding up. Papal limo? -Nope, Francis is still riding the bus. Hand made red leather shoes? Also gone. And Tuesday Francis said no thanks to the palatial papal apartment, staying instead in a small suite at the Vatican guest residence.

Fitting for a pope who said his papacy would put the poor first.

"At the same time I think there's a concern for the moral, spiritual impoverishment we're experiencing even in the developed countries, so both things are on his radar. But clearly the economically poor will be advantaged in this papacy," said Irwin.

Those shifts in tone aren't the end. Irwin said the new Pope is poised to shake up at the Vatican establishment.

"During Easter we all pray hard, but after that, act two is going to be the personnel changes he makes. And I have a suspicion he is a very decisive man, and he will make these changes for the good of the church, and he will do that quickly. He will not delay the game," said Irwin.

Record crowds are expected again in Rome on Sunday for Easter services at the Vatican. And we've also learned that Pope Francis will be traveling to Brazil for World Youth Day. If you thought the crowds at the Vatican were big, just wait for the madness in July when the first Latin American pope touches down in South American.

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