Many American Roman Catholics would like to see their church change. In mid-March, the Pew Research Center delivered this poll: 76% of U.S. Catholics countenance birth control; 59% want women as priests; 64% think priests should be allowed to marry.
We've been assured by Vatican watchers of all stripes that America's liberal Catholics are probably going to be disappointed in Pope Francis; the new pontiff, wrote John Allen in the National Catholic Reporter, is "unquestionably orthodox."
And yet, so far, many American Catholics are not in the least unhappy with their new pope: 73% applaud his election, according to Pew.
Maybe that's because the relationship between Francis and the faithful is still in the honeymoon stage. Maybe U.S. Catholics are resigned (only 20% think the church will change its position on female priests or married priests by 2050; a slim majority think contraception has a better chance). Maybe Francis is more of a change agent than the pundits realized.