Five Ways Pope Francis Has Changed the Vatican and What You Can Do To Visit

Pope Francis brought about sweeping changes to the Catholic Church during his first two years in office. His papacy, the first American pope, the first Jesuit pope, and the first non European pope in over 1,000 years has shaken up the Vatican. His actions and reforms have changed the dialogue between the Pope and the Catholic Church. He has also changed the style of leadership, the message and the way the Catholic Church communicates. These are five of the most significant changes Pope Francis has made.

Every Wednesday, Pope Francis can be seen in the Piazza of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Yes, to the poor

Pope Francis named himself in honor of St. Francis, a reminder to not forget the poor and a sign that he cares about the well-being of the poor. He opted for a humbler and more collegial approach to his papal office. He returned to the hotel the night after his election on the bus with other cardinals and decided not to live in the Apostolic Palace. Instead, he lived in a Vatican guesthouse. These are actions that anyone can do but that he has done well – a sign of his compassion for the poor and ideals.

Science is a good thing

An institution that once called Galileo Galilei a heretic has now presented a scientific view of the origin of our universe. This shocks creationists. Pope Francis stated last October that he and his church supported the Bing Bang Theory. He said that God is not a magician using a magic wand.

Pope Francis stated that the Big Bang Theory does not contradict God’s creative intervention. On the contrary, it is required. Science answers “how”, while religion focuses on “why.”

Yes to inclusion

Despite the bitterly divided meeting between Catholic Bishops, Pope Francis called on them to open their doors to gays. Although gay marriage remains a controversial issue, the meeting signaled that the Catholic Church was more open to gay families. The bishops addressed Christian families with a separate message: “Christ wanted his church be a place where everyone is welcome, and no one is excluded.”

According to CBS News, Francis stated that he was personally worried and saddened by the lack of animated discussions or if everyone had been silent in a false peace or in agreement.

Although some may say that it is a small step on a long road, Pope Francis’ efforts show his desire to bring openness and dialogue back to the Catholic Church.

Diversity is good!

Pope Francis appointed 20 cardinals from around the globe, changing the face and character of the Catholic Church. These new cardinals, from places such as Tonga, Myanmar, and Colombia, represent large swathes of Christians today and add diversity to the always-homogeneous Vatican City.

Crux is a publication that covers all things Catholic. It states, “There is almost nothing a pope does that’s as important to shaping culture within the Church as naming the senior leadership. And cardinals are the most significant papal selections.”

Although it is not clear what kind of changes this decision will bring about, it is clear Pope Francis isn’t satisfied with the status quo and is willing to open up the church to the rest of the world.

Yes, we can change from the top.

Most notably, Pope Francis has shaken the Vatican by …. Well, he has legitimately shaken up the Vatican. By creating a Secretariat for the Economy, he has focused on fiscal discipline within the city-state. After the election of a new pope he abolished bonuses for Vatican employees and donated the money instead to charity. He also eliminated the 25,000 euro annual bonus that was paid to cardinals in the Board of Supervisors of the Vatican bank.

The Roman Curia is the central governing body that the Pope uses to manage the affairs of the entire Catholic Church’s structure and spirituality. He actively sought to reform it. He sent a message to Curia members before Christmas asking them to reflect on their lives and ask for forgiveness for the various sins they had committed, such as feelings of superiority and hoarding wealth, lusting after power, and the harmful effects of gossip.

How can I see the Pope, then?


The Papal Audiences has 6,000 seats. Photo by Heribert Pöll

Papal Audiences take place every Wednesday, as long as the Pope remains in Rome. Visitors can visit the Pope and receive the Papal Blessing.

To accommodate large numbers, the Papal Audiences take place in St. Peter’s Square during the summer. You can reserve a ticket in advance to ensure a seat. However, the order will still be first-come, first served, so it is best to arrive early to secure the best seats. It is best to arrive at Security between 8 and 8:30 a.m. In summertime, the audience may begin at 10:30 am. It usually lasts about an hour to an and a half. The audience is held in the Paul VI Auditorium Hall in winter and bad weather. To get to the Vatican, you will need to pass security at the Petriano Entrance. This is located on the left side of St. Peter’s Basilica’s colonnade.

On Sundays, at noon, when he’s in Rome, there is another chance to see him. He then comes to his window overlooking St. Peter’s Square and gives a brief speech and blessings to the people below. The event lasts about 20 minutes.

Respectful clothes are required for the Papal Audience. Shorts and skirts should not fall below the knee. Security will likely turn you away if you don’t respect the sacredness and dignity of the site. The Papal Audience can be a wonderful and significant cultural event. It is a great opportunity to see the Pope who has made such profound changes in an institution that has been around for centuries.

You can visit the Vatican while you are in Rome by taking our Pristine Sistine Chapel Tour – which will take you to the Vatican Museums as well as the Sistine Chapel, before the general opening. Join our most exclusive experience, VIP VaticanKey Master’s Tour. You’ll be able to unlock the Sistine Chapel and enjoy two hours of uninterrupted access to the Vatican Museums.