It seems hopeful to me.
I'm less than euphoric about the LDS church's recent retraction of its old racist doctrines. It was less a retraction than a denial, and it came conveniently on the heels of Nelson Mandela's death. Still it's a step in the right direction. At least the church won't be able to spew so much racist crap in the future, now that they've set this new precedent.
I'm not thrilled about Francis' failure to speak out against the molestations of children by priests. It seems like he's spoke out against every kind of child abuse (especially child labor and sex slavery) except the abuse spawned by his own Church. His failings were similar when he was a cardinal and I suspect that he was hand-picked for his current office in part for that very reason. The Catholic Church may be ready to loosen its grip on some things, but not on its denial about its most grevious sin in these modern times.
I think socialism has been shown to be able to be carried out successfully, under the right circumstances, by a goodly number of European countries. It shouldn't be something that Americans quake and tremble over, but lots of older folks at least are living in the past where the Cold War was at its height and witch-hunts against communist "spies" were the featured paranoia of the day. When a conservative American hears the word "socialist," I think his/her mind translates it as "commie," with all the fearmongering that entails. Luckily I am not afraid of socialism, so I don't have to try to defend the opposing viewpoint.
But as Dana indicated, the Catholic Church is made less out of clay and more out of cement. It's brittle. Too much change in one sitting would end with the Church cracking and falling to pieces -- not necessarily a bad thing, but something that no entrenched Catholic would want to cause. To become Pope, one must be very loyal to the Church and its survival no matter what one's personal views. So I think it's fortuitous that the higher-ups chose a Pope who'd at least talk a milder talk, even if he's not ready to walk a milder walk. I don't think Francis has fixed the biggest problems by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm happy that he's beginning to point the Church in a direction that no other Pope ever did (not for all but 2000 years at least).
I'll have one eye on the Catholic Church going forward, I'll put it that way.
Love means never having to say, "Put down that meat cleaver!"