John L. Allen Jr. asks the question in a recent Time magazine article of whether Pope Francis will bring lasting change.
If one means substantive alterations in Church teaching—for instance, acceptance of abortion; gay marriage; allowing couples to use contraception; and welcoming women priests—then the answer is no. Francis has made it clear that he’s not a doctrinal radical and does not intend to upend the catechism (the official collection of Catholic doctrine). On the other hand, if one sees change as a reorientation of Catholicism toward the political center, the geographical and existential peripheries and the heart of the gospel, then it’s possible Francis will leave an imprint on the Church that will outlive his own reign, however long or short it turns out to be.
I understand the bit about geography, that Francis is involving Catholic leaders from outside of Italy and outside of Europe. But the rest of Allen’s comment seems nebulous. You can read the full article here: