Anyone who is paying the slightest attention to events unfolding in the Roman Catholic Church, cannot fail to be aware that we are witnessing the birth of a potential revolution in the church.

Cardinal Burke may think that the Church under Francis is “a ship without a rudder”. But the truth is that Francis’ hand steering the ship of the Roman Church is clear and decisive. It just happens to be sailing in a direction of which Cardinal Burke disapproves.

What direction is the Pope sailing the ship of the church?

According to the “Financial Times”, the Pope is guiding the Roman Church with a

determination to make the Church more open, inclusive and accountable.

The “Financial Times” goes on to describe the revolution Pope Francis is attempting to inaugurate in his church saying that,

Pope Francis is giving his two-millennia-old institution the biggest shake-up since the Second Vatican Council convened by John XXIII in 1962-65. Vatican II tried to bring the Church into easier alignment with its modern flock, but its flames of reform flickered and died. Decades of papal intolerance ensued, with John Paul II and Benedict XVI enforcing narrow and defensive dogma. But Francis says the Church must now find a “new balance” or collapse “like a house of cards”. In particular, it cannot “insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive measures”.

His attempt to shift debate away from sexual morality might be seen as tactically astute after the avalanche of evidence of priests sexually abusing children in their care — a scandal the Vatican was criminally slow to address. Yet untold millions of Catholics have drifted away from the Church not just because of that but because its obsession with personal morality is so at variance with the lives they live. One of Pope Francis’s first actions was to replace Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the secretary of state of the Holy See, who said the media was responsible for the impression that the Church was obsessed with sex. Pietro Parolin, his replacement, promptly observed that celibate priests are a clerical tradition, not a doctrine.

Francis has not sought to change doctrine; no pope would. But he has tried to relax old anathemas — making conciliatory remarks about gays and atheists, for example — to reorder the Church’s priorities, and decentralise its governance — a Jesuit hallmark.

He has overhauled the Vatican bank — suspected of money-laundering — and is taking more control of appointments. The conclusions of the recent synod on the family were widely seen as a victory for conservatives, who filibustered change on issues such as divorce and remarriage. Yet he has removed their leader, the American Cardinal Raymond Burke, from two influential positions. For next year’s repeat synod on the family, moreover, he just sent out another questionnaire. In the first exercise the questions were open; this time some of them look loaded with the answers he wants.

It is a tricky business orchestrating a revolution in a large unwieldy institution that is mired in centuries of tradition and bureaucracy. But Francis seems well on his way to redirecting the ship of his church and enabling it to sail in a direction that is more congruent with the ocean in which it must sail.

No matter what our denominational affiliation, we would do well in the new year to pray regularly for the health, strength, and vision of Pope Francis as he continues to navigate his incredible revolution attempting to return the church to its true purpose.