by Max Brantley
Social justice jumps to the fore. Maybe, the church's recent obsession with sexual issues will diminish somewhat.
Francis has made it clear he'll make no departure on bedrock issues such as abortion, the church's view on the morality of homosexuality and women in the priesthood. But I think this BBC report is significant:
The Pope's position on gay people appears to contrast with that of his predecessor
Speaking to reporters on a flight back from Brazil, he reaffirmed the Roman Catholic Church's position that homosexual acts were sinful, but homosexual orientation was not.
"If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?"
He also said he wanted a greater role for women in the Church, but insisted they could not be priests.
These signals are, of course, heard — and often heeded — in every corner of the world inhabited by the church's followers and priests. Arkansas, in other words.