AirTalk for March 11, 2014

After one full year at the Vatican, how has Pope Francis changed the Catholic Church?

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Pope Francis waves from the Popemobile on his way to attend the Via Crucis on Copacabana Beach during World Youth Day celebrations on July 26, 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

He's been called a 'rock star' and Superman, but how much impact has Pope Francis had on the Catholic Church during his first year in office?

This week marks the one year anniversary since Argentinian-born Jorge Mario Bergoglio replaced the retiring Pope Benedict XVI to become the first non-European to head the church in 1,300 years. Pope Francis didn't waste any time redirecting the church's focus away from the Vatican and towards issues of poverty and social inequality.

He's ruffled some feathers inside the establishment for calling on Vatican officials to live more simply. Francis himself chose to live in a boarding house rather than the Apostolic Palace and drive a Ford Focus instead of the papal limousine. He's called for a stronger role for women in the church and welcomed atheists into the fold.

A new study out from the Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project shows that Catholics overwhelmingly approve of the new pope's direction. More than eight-in-ten American Catholics say they have a favorable view of Pope Francis, including half who view him very favorably.

He may have high approval ratings, but is that translating to more church attendance or involvement? What have been the Pope's biggest achievements and what does he have planned for the years to come? Has there been much push back from the establishment to the pontiff's new direction for the church?

Guests:

Rocco Palmo, commentator on the Catholic Church and author of the influential Vatican blog Whispers in the Loggia.

Greg Smith, director of US religion surveys at the Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project


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