How much has Pope Francis changed Catholic church?

ROME -- Most of the world had never heard of him. Few had seen his face. And when we were introduced one year ago today, many had trouble pronouncing his last name. Now, he goes by Francis, and his face is one of the most famous on earth -- the new face of the Catholic church.

The pope marked the anniversary of his election with a simple tweet: "Please pray for me."

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Father John Wauck
CBS News
When Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope, he was not just an Argentinean outsider with a mandate to reform an unsettled church. He soon became a different kind of papal bull charging through the china shop of Vatican convention.

Not just discarding the golden crucifix and red papal slippers for a simpler look -- not just abandoning the palatial papal apartment for plain rooms in the Vatican hotel -- this pope would not only carry his own bag, he'd carry the church, according to Father John Wauck of Rome's Pontifical University, in a new direction.

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Marco Politi
CBS News
"He's probably the most popular guy on the planet right now, and people are expecting great things from him, " Wauck said.

There's no doubt that in just a year, Pope Francis has changed the tone of the papacy. He's accessible and energetic, where his predecessor seemed reclusive and tired. But in becoming the face of change, Francis has also raised the expectation of change.

No more so than when, speaking on a papal flight, he seemed to reject the Vatican line that homosexuality was an "intrinsic disorder." Instead he asked, "Who am I to judge?"

It's a dramatic shift in approach, according to Vatican writer Marco Politi, who's called his new book "Francis Among the Wolves."

"This means a new look on divorce, on second marriage, a new look on homosexuality, on homosexual unions," Politi said.

But a new look that hasn't yet been reflected in any change, other than atmospheric, in church doctrine.

Asked whether people are dressing the pope in clothes that they want him to wear, Politi said, "In the Catholic church, the atmosphere is very important."

Francis' papacy will not be judged by what he said in his first year. It will be judged by what he does next.


  • Mark Phillips

    Mark Phillips returned to the CBS News London bureau as a correspondent in 1993. He has covered many major stories since then, including the war in the Balkans, the death of Princess Diana and the weapons inspection conflicts in Iraq.

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