As he moves into the second year of his papacy, I predict that the honeymoon period will come to an end. Those who enjoy entrenched positions in the church may find their security challenged. Some Catholics who dislike and distrust the new pope may find themselves in a position of dissent and even disobedience. Many of those outside the Church who have been attracted to him will soon realize that he is the Pope and will be disappointed to find that he will continue to uphold Catholic moral teaching and Catholic doctrine. Many who now approve of him will change their minds.
That will not be the whole story, however. I believe this papacy will bear rich fruit. Already I see priests and people in the Church listening carefully to his call. They are finding ways to emulate him and reach out in new ways. The New Evangelization is beginning to snowball, and with Pope Francis in the lead, the good news of Jesus Christ present in the fullness of the Catholic faith will reverberate around the world, bringing the new springtime that our Church and our world so desperately needs.
Fr. Dwight Longenecker is the parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary, Greenville, SC. His latest book, The Romance of Religion, will be published by Thomas Nelson in February.