In the wake of Papa Francesco, many are still figuring out what to make of things. Cardinal Dolan has made the rounds saying there was no conflict with the Curia involved in the election of Papa Francesco - not sure I by that. Traditionalist Catholics see evidence of the Curia at work in his election - all part of a grand conspiracy by the Curia to ordain women, apparently. Really not sure I buy that.
As I've come to expect, some of the most reflective comments come from Fr. Chadwick's blog. Now, you have to pardon me for not directly linking to the particular post I'm thinking of (there's more reading material than I can keep straight at the moment), but at one point he makes the observation that the moment the papacy leaves Europe for Latin America, it's probably not coming back.
I won't say I think that this is absolutely true, however, it underscores the truth of matter behind the election of Pope Francis. Catholicism is leaving the West and, at some point, the Roman Church will undergo a long process of change as it begins to reflect the religion of the majority of its adherents. There are many risks to be sure, many unknowns.
Papa Francesco's election puts the concerns of Western Catholics under sever criticism. Now begins a time in which the those members of the Roman Church from affluent countries will be forced to examine their priorities against a new standard. Fans of Benedict's liturgical ethos and restoration of the baroque aesthetic are now confronted with the possibility that such things do not constitute the heart of the religion and are not the vessels by which the Roman Church can stop its decline. Progressives will similarly face their own eventual intellectual mortality as they discover the majority of the Church not only rejects much of their ideology but indeed refuses to be ruled by it - colonialism 2.0 isn't happening.
Every last one of us faces the challenge of reorienting ourselves to a changing Catholicism that will increasingly abandon the Western standard. This won't happen overnight, but the election of Papa Francesco may well indicate that the process has officially begun - unless he too becomes bogged down in the Curia's mire.
The new papacy probably will not fixate upon liturgical matters - although I wouldn't be shocked if Leo's papal throne is put back into storage. I suspect rather than trying to find a veneer of the status quo it can live with, this papacy may well risk reviving the notion that Catholicism must always seek to find another way.
Although, this is still all speculation. The Roman Church needs rebuilding. Pope Francis may well be the man to lead sweeping a campaign towards such a goal.