Speaking in an interview marking the 4th anniversary of Francis’ election on March 13th, 2013, Gibson said the Pope’s legacy will be “to recover those practices of discernment, of really examining one’s conscience.”

Gibson, who works for the US-based Religion News Service, said he believed the prominence of “synodality” was the most significant change introduced by the Argentinian pontiff.

“He’s trying to reset the entire way of being the Church, to really pick something up from Vatican II, as he sees it, that has sort of been lost over the years and over the decades. Those synods and meetings in the Vatican to discuss various issues every couple of years had become, pro forma, almost rubber stamp events.”

Instead, bishops, priests and the people of God wanted to have “real input”. With the Pope saying “this is the style of Church we need” he is “fundamentally re-orienting the management of the Church,” Gibson added.

Asked about Pope Francis’ popularity, Gibson said recent surveys show it has increased to “almost 90 per cent” in the United States during the last few months.

Catholics familiar with Jesuit priests, “see in him a kind of pastor in a parish that so many of us have known. There is something, at once, so unremarkable about it and yet, at the same time, the fact that he’s Pope makes him so remarkable.”

Commenting on where he sees the Church going forward under Pope Francis, Gibson said: “I think he wants to continue to have the Church to discern where she is at this moment in history and then act on that.”