There is an Italian saying, "After a fat pope a thin one." The meaning of this is that a new pope compensates for the weaknesses of his predecessor. Well, Francis, like Benedict,possesses a Ph.D.in Theology and graduate qualifications in psychology,literature and philosophy, but he lacks the theological expertise of his predecessor. Nor does he have the facility in languages of John Paul. His expertise is in leading institutions, and behind him he has the experience of being in charge of the Jesuit order in Argentina during the dictatorship, during which time he smuggled out people in danger of death out of the country. He later headed a theological college that trained priests, and then became archbishop of Buenos Aires. During this period he reformed the training of clergy by eliminating unsuitable candidates. In this facility with institutions he compensates for Benedict's limitations, though it is said that he will consult his predecessor on theological matters.
Francis has weighed into institutional reforms with gusto. I do not foresee that there will be much theological development during this papacy, for this is what the church does not need. What it needs is institutional reform, and this is what Francis will give it.
One significant reform is the new council. To compensate for the dominating influence of the Curia, the Vatican civil service/bureaucracy, which has had a stranglehold on information and advice reaching the papacy,the present pope has established an eight person council to advise him. This council consists of cardinals representing different areas of the world. North,Central and South America are represented, as are Asia, Europe, Africa and Australia. There is one representative of the Curia, who is European. These eight people advise on change in the church, and the function of this group is to counter the deadening effect of the papal bureaucracy.
Other institutional changes have been made. For the first time women have been admitted to roles in the curia, and the pope has stated that the church needs the talents of women. But the more difficult changes were with the Vatican bank. The bank had been regarded as a conduit for the criminal money, which was flowing through it because of its inadequate organisation. This is due to the simple fact that priests don't make the best financiers, as they are not trained in financial matters and their skill set does not include handling large amounts of money. This reform, conducted in the teeth of bank opposition, has attempted to turn a failing bank into an institution that brings credit rather than disrespect on the church. It involved getting some people out and other,reliable ones into post.
Furthermore, the pope has retired some senior curial officials who were either no longer up to the job because of age or because he was dissatisfied with their performance. This has made him some enemies. These changes involved his making a thorough study of Vatican personel, all of which was in addition to the routine work of pope, which involve not only addressing Catholic visitors to the Vatican and diplomats from across the world, but also personally meeting every Catholic bishop in the world in an ad limina visit once every three years.
But effecting these reforms is in addition to a a little known aspect of the Vatican's work, which sucks up much of the pope's time: the Vatican's work to prevent war. Since 1945 Vatican diplomacy has been committed to preventing nuclear war and international conflict, and the pope is at the heart of all these diplomatic efforts. A little known and under-appreciated job, but a vital one of world wide significance.