Yet another conversation link, though this one's a bit shorter. Basically going over some of the Pope's second interview, and once again I think what the Pope is actually saying and doing is on the whole far more reasonable than how he's so far been presented.
I think a good share of the problems people are having - not all of them, but a good share - basically come down to this: on the one hand, the Pope seems to be actively trying to engage and approach people who have grown distant from the Church. Not 'Richard Dawkins', but just 'modern non-believers'. The simply irreligious, the nominal-at-best Christian or Catholic. And this, frankly, is a group that the modern Church has never really focused on before. In fact, it's a group that I strongly suspect a lot of orthodox Christians simply do not know how to engage: they're more comfortable with out and out hostile idiot-atheists, or with fellow believers. The merely irreligious, the social liberal who is liberal just because they kinda-sorta think it's right to be so rather than regard hardcore social liberalism as key to their identity? They tend to get ignored. They're not loud, after all.
It's the engagement of that group that has caught my attention for a while now, and it's probably one reason why I'm being a lot more forgiving of what I'm seeing out of Francis right now. I don't think engaging this group requires any sacrifice of orthodox stances. I do think it will naturally require different language and different approaches than what orthodox and traditionalists have been providing up to this point. So right now, I find myself understanding of and even encouraged by most (not all, but most) of what Francis is saying. I may change my mind in the future, but for now, it's nice to have a pope that - at least in my casual experience - the irreligious like and find inspiring. I'm not quite so sure the social liberals are going to like him ultimately. I really do think he's panicking them.