So will the changing of the guard at the Vatican usher in a new era of changes for the Catholic Church?
The world is watching Pope Francis.
“The style will be different, but the substance will remain basically the same," says Ken Briggs, from Easton. "It may make the substance more palatable to some people and it may not.”
Briggs, a former religion editor for the New York Times, says the personal approach is good.
He says the Pope knows the 1.2 billion Catholics may be divided over issues like same sex marriage and women's rights, like abortion.
But Briggs doesn't see Pope Francis making changes to those policies.
“There is always room for some surprise," added Briggs. "I think it is fair to say he has been a conservative, traditional thinker. He has not shown any inclination to break ranks with his fellow cardinals.”
Ken Briggs feels Pope Francis will help with other issues like furthering the church's message of helping the poor.
And the Pope could open other lines of communication as well.
“He may reawaken the dialogue among Catholics and other Christians," said Briggs. "And Catholics and other religions because he may have the personal skills.”
Briggs says he is excited to see the start of the papacy of the 266th pope.
He says the real change in the Catholic community will start the first time Pope Francis encounters those in the church that may not agree with him and he has on open dialogue with them.
"If he creates in some manner a forum in which there can be discussion among people who can be regarded as basic equals, then I think that would be the ground work for at least a feeling of mutual acceptance of one another.”
Briggs says it will also be tough to make a lot of changes because the Pope is generally defined by the teachings and decisions of predecessors.