Some are looking particularly at what openness Pope Francis will show to the participation of women in church leadership.
In somewhat muted tones, some are asking if Pope Francis will be like Pope John XXIII, a beloved figure among many for his decision to open the Second Vatican Council.
Rome dispatch: Pope Francis has told the Vatican's chief doctrinal enforcer he should respond "decisively" to the issue of sexual abuse of minor by clergy, the Vatican said Friday.
While some corners have praised the pope for his simple gestures, reformers question whether he will address issues that have cost the church "a generation of Catholics."
Vatican City -- "Women have had and still have a special role in opening doors to the Lord," Pope Francis says.
Catholics scrutinizing ever papal utterance for hints about how Pope Francis will view the roles of women in the church will certainly be studying his first comments on women, made today in his general Wednesday audience.
He spoke about “Resurrection of Jesus as the center of the Christian message that has resounded since the beginning and has been handed down so that it may reach us today.”
“The Resurrection of Christ is our strength!” Francis said.
In his first Urbi et Orbi message of his pontificate this Easter Sunday, Pope Francis, echoing the words of his namesake, invited people of all ages, from all walks of life to “ask the risen Jesus, who turns death into life, to change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace”.
His Easter message stressed the need for transformation in the world, especially the need to end warfare and build peace.
In yet another rich use of symbols, an emerging preaching pattern of Pope Francis’ pontificate, he included women and Muslims in one of the most important liturgical celebrations in the Catholic calendar year.
Kneeling at the feet of 12 juvenile inmates in a Rome detention center, he washed and kissed their feet. The group included two women and two Muslims and ranged in age from 14 to 21.
Francis’ calls to humility and service have been two hallmarks in is young pontificate.
The pope called washing another's feet an important act that shows that "the person who is most high among us must be at the service of the others."
Francis hope note
Pope Francis today kneeled before 12 juvenile detainees in a Rome detention center during a Holy Thursday ceremony. He washed, dried and kissed their feet. Two in the group were women, two were Muslims, according to the Vatican.
The symbolism of these gestures will certainly move quickly beyond the Catholic church.