Does Pope Francis symbolize a changing face for the Catholic Church?

BY Connie Kargbo  December 21, 2013 at 3:56 PM EDT

Since his election to the papal office in March, Pope Francis is changing the tone of the Catholic Church’s governing principles on issues ranging from abortion to gay rights.

Now, in his most recent message, Pope Francis urged the Curia, the Catholic Church’s governing body, to refrain from gossip.

“Holiness, in the Curia, also means conscientious objection. Yes, conscientious objection to gossip,” he said. “For gossip is harmful to people, harmful to our work and our surroundings.”

This is the latest in a series of comments made by Pope Francis that indicate a more progressive mindset from the papal office.

In July, aboard the papal plane, Pope Francis briefly remarked on homosexuality, an often taboo subject for the Vatican.

In Italian, he said, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

While Church’s stance on homosexuality remains unchanged, the comments resonated around the world as a more compassionate take on gay men and women by the Church.

That same month, the Pope created a special commission to tackle the Church’s administrative and economic problems. He also established a separate commission to oversee the Vatican bank, an institution investigated for “millions in suspect transfers.”

In an interview with NewsHours’ Jeffrey Brown, Father Matt Malone of America Magazine said the Pope’s actions and words are “not changing any of the church’s teachings, per se. But what he is doing is reordering our priorities.”

This “reordering” may be why Pope Francis was recently named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year.