Before liberals and traditionalists both have a spittle-flecked nutty, each for their own reasons, try to figure out what he is trying to do.
Firstly, we are not succeeding in evangelizing. We are going backwards, globally. Francis knows this. This has to be foremost in his mind. This fact was probably foremost in the considerations of the College of Cardinals. How could it not be? So, Francis is faced with the obligation to address the problem of evangelization.
In the wealthy west, the Church is often perceived (and it is so very often portrayed) as not being compassionate. The Church doesn’t care about women in crisis pregnancies (and therefore we don’t condone abortion or contraception because we are not “compassionate”. The Church doesn’t care about the divorced and remarried (because we don’t admit them to Holy Communion and therefore we are not “compassionate”). Likewise, getting down into the nitty-gritty of defending small-t traditions and fighting over their meaning, their larger value, history and worth today, we are not compassionate (because we talk about the details of worship we are therefore ignoring the real needs of people and we are therefore not compassionate).
There are all sorts of ways in which people have lost the sense that the Church is actually about compassion, properly understood.
I think what Pope Francis is up to is trying to project, re-project, is an image of the Church as compassionate. He is trying to help people remember (or learn for the first time) that she is actually all about compassion, charity in its truest form.
We’ve lost the message and we have to get it back.
Go read it all. Very interesting.