Fr Z is doing a poll on the initial reactions to Pope Francis, it is probably a little premature but then the Pope himself has been keen on creating "first impressions".
It is after all early days but I must admit I am rathered disorientated by Pope Francis' election, and what seems to be a repudiation of the sgns and symbols that Pope Benedict held as important markers of the "hermeneutic of continuity". I was quite shocked by some of the pictures of liturgical goings on in Buenos Aires, and dissappointed by the lack of support for those marker projects of our previous Pope, like Summorum Pontificum, which had such importance for the whole theology of continuity, the idea that the Church has a continuing sacred history: What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too ... etc., I am saddened by the reported reaction to the Ordinariates too; a great marker of practical ecumenism and pluralism.
That is the down side so far, the upside is precisely what Pope Francis is obviously trying to communicate: simplicity and personal warmth, prayerfulness and humanity. These are obviously good things and appeal to individuals and especially to the media, where the Papacy is projected not an office but a person. This is both its strength but also its weakness, it is why monarchy is in a sense more photogenic than other systems. There is something very Incarnational here, it is about gathering friends rather than disciples.
The great problem for the Church is that it is not our Church but Christ's, we should expect to have our images of Church fractured from time to time, it is all too easy to make it into our own personal golden calf. For us Catholics this is the great problem with the Papacy, each successive Pope brings in his own strengths and weaknesses. He has to be the rock on which the Church is built, there has to be continuity from generation to generation, in that sense it is the office not the man which encapsulates it. Anything that gives the impression of it being built on sand is destructive.
I can imagine that in the various nunciatures through out the world the lists that were put away at the coming of Benedict might well be dusted off, the bishops who were extending the hand of ecumenism to the Orthodox, or other potential Ordinariate groups, might well, instead, be thinking about turning towards protestants instead.
One of the great problems with the Vatican, that has been highlighted is the degree of what has been termed "corruption". I imagine there is very little actual corruption, which in the Church we call the sin of simony. What seems to be at the very heart of the whole system is the granting of favours in exchange for favours, the winning of personal iufluence - modern nepotism and patronage where personal trusted favourites are appointed to positions of influence, often despite merit. The problem is the whole system itself is based on personal preference which is as fickle as the direction of Mass in the Sistine chapel, all has come to depend on personal whim, or theological preference of whoever is Pontiff, this sand not Rock.
Let us pray for Francis our Pope and all who work in the Curia.
May the Lord deliver us from hasty judgements.