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What Does Pope Francis Mean For Future Of Church?

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- It was a big day for newly-elected Pope Francis.

He celebrated his first mass as pope inside Saint Peter's Basilica. His homily was short, and he spoke without notes in Italian.

It is being looked at by many as a new beginning for the Catholic Church - a new pope who is said to be in touch with common folk.

So, what does Pope Francis mean for the future of the church? It's too soon to say, but one expert on the church says the biggest change may be his style.

In his first public appearance, Pope Francis refused the red gown and the jewels. According to an expert on the Catholic Church at Duquesne law school, it ruffled some feathers at the Vatican.

Thomas Bickerton of Methodist Diocese of Pittsburgh

"There was actually a little bit of a tussle in the dressing room when the master of ceremonies insisted he put on the red cape with the trim and the jeweled cross," said Nicholas Cafardi, professor emeritus at Duquesne University Law School. "And he said you can wear it if you want to, I'm going out like this."

According to Cafardi, this doesn't signal any profound changes in doctrine. But Pope Francis' common touch may help bridge the gap between the people in the pews and church leadership.

"He says we have to focus on not being policemen of the faith, but pastors of the faith," Cafardi said.

Don't expect radical changes though on women in the priesthood, same sex marriage or birth control. But do expect a change in emphasis.

"Not that we're ever going to get a pope that's going to leave behind the teachings of the church; but perhaps different emphasis on what the church teaches," Cafardi said.

As a cardinal, Pope Francis was known for riding the bus and ministering to the poor. Many now expect that work will continue.

"What attracts people to the Gospel is the charity that the church does," Cafardi adds. "And this is a man who's immersed himself in the charity that the church does."

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