Two years into his job as a senior advisor at The Vatican, Greg Burke, opens his conversation with us by saying: “I still feel like a rookie pitcher inside the stadium.” In his role supporting Pope Francis, Time Magazine’s 2013 Person of the Year, who became Pope on March 13, 2013 following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, Burke has been part of one of the most exciting news stories of the past year.

Joining the Vatican after nearly 11 years as the Rome correspondent for FOXNews, Burke initially turned the job down, but was later persuaded to take up the challenge.  He’s clear that the success of Pope Francis in winning the hearts and minds of the people and the media is due to the Pope’s own character and actions. His point being, this is not a communications stunt. “This is Francis, not us,” he says. “It’s like Michael Jordan scoring 60 points. We’re here to offer water and a towel. ”Known for his spontaneity and authenticity, Pope Francis is accessible to the Church’s followers in a way that hasn’t been seen before. Children stay by his side after being brought to greet him or may even sit in his chair and refuse to leave. He demonstrates compassion for the sick and poor wherever he goes. He carries his own briefcase. “People want to hug him and that’s acceptable…something we wouldn’t have dreamed of happening on a frequent basis 15 years ago,” says Burke.

In terms of the communications staff, Burke explains it’s surprisingly small, yet from his pulpit, the Pope has been able to have a huge impact. He has redirected the conversation about the Catholic Church from one of scandals to “God loves you, God forgives you, and the church and its ministers are here to serve the people.”

From 10-day trips to Lampedusa, organized with just 12 days’ notice, to four-hour long prayer vigils for Syria planned in just a few days, this Pope is using his influence to tackle real world issues and put them on the map with compassion and tenderness.

PR has changed in the church over the centuries from delivering the word of God through scenes depicting in stained glass windows to six-second Vine videos and selfies. The Vatican has its own radio station, which has been around for 80 years, as well as an afternoon newspaper.

As the world gets used to “the Pope next door”, Burke reminds us, “Obama’s cool, but the Pope is cooler, okay?!”

Is the Francis effect working? A recent Pew study shows no impact in the U.S. on church attendance, “but anecdotally a lot of people will tell me that they have returned to church or are thinking of it,” says Burke.