Many people, including many bishops, expect Francis to prove his credentials as a reformer by changing church doctrine on a key issue: whether Catholics who are divorced and remarried can be allowed to receive holy communion. This is the big “reform” that everyone is awaiting, the one that is so dearly expected, not just because it would soften the church’s morality on sex and relationships, but because it would signal that, despite the bleatings of so many conservative Catholics, church doctrine on sex and relationships can be changed.
That would open up the floodgates on other positions previously thought unchangeable, such as on contraception, women priests, gay marriage — you name it. This, in turn, would ensure that, like so many other Christian denominations, the Catholic Church devolves into a debating society much too preoccupied with navel-gazing and Robert’s Rules of Order to do its actual job of serving the poor, healing the sick, and lighting the world on fire with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Which, if you believe in the devil, as Francis does, is exactly what he would want.
Unlike progressive Catholics who expect it with bated breath, and conservative Catholics who fear it, I don’t think Pope Francis will change church doctrine. Instead, I think he will boringly reaffirm it, along with the church’s other inconvenient rules, and thereby destroy The Narrative.