As the first Latin American to hold the prestigious position, the Argentine pontiff's outlook is no doubt more international than any of his predecessors, but he is proving just as keen to leave his mark on the Catholic Church in the developed world.
While increasing secularism and disenchantment with the thousand-year-old institution are turning younger generations from the Church in Europe, Francis seems concerned that American Catholicism's most dire problem is its "narrow and alienating" focus on a number of hot-button political issues such as abortion.
Addressing American bishops at the first national meeting since the new Pope was elected, Carlo Maria Vigano, the Vatican's U.S. ambassador, told bishops they should not "follow a particular ideology" and focus on making the Church more welcoming.
Relaying information from a recent audience with the Pope, Vigano reiterated that, "The Holy Father wants bishops in tune with their people ... pastoral bishops, not bishops who profess or follow a particular ideology."
The remarks coincided with the end of New York Bishop Timothy Dolan's three-year term as conference president.
The Church is also currently mired in a drawn-out battle with the Obama administration over a requirement that employers provide health insurance that includes contraceptive coverage.