"I think he is a man who is open to learning, but thus far he has been a very cautious and conservative priest that has followed the traditional Catholic teachings," added de Roux, who has worked for peace and development in some of Colombia's most war-ravaged zones for the past three decades.
Crowley agrees with de Roux's take, and adds that we shouldn't expect any reforms on social issues like abortion, gay marriage or even birth control, although the pope has had an ambiguous stance towards this last issue.
Regarding gay marriage, then-Cardinal Bergoglio staunchly opposed legislation proposed in Argentina in 2010. As part of a media campaign that saw him face off against President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Bergoglio sent a letter to the nation's Carmelite nuns, urging them to condemn the same-sex marriage bill that the Argentine government had put forward. The approval of gay marriage, Bergoglio told the nuns, could "seriously harm the family."
"At stake is the total rejection of God's law engraved in our hearts," he wrote.
"Let us not be naïve," he continued, "this is not simply a political struggle, but it is an attempt to destroy God's plan. It is not just a bill [or mere instrument] but a 'move' of the father of lies who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God."
Bergoglio could have an impact on other slightly less controversial subjects, according to Crowley, especially on those that have been historically championed by the conservative factions of the curia.
"I don't expect big changes of any practices or teachings," Crowley said. "But I would hope that he could open up avenues of listening to people, especially for women. I think he could open discussion of women deacons. I think that's something he could do precisely because he is conservative. And for the same reason, he might open up a discussion about priestly celibacy."
More importantly for Catholics around the world, Bergoglio could be the man the Church needs to truly tackle the seemingly endless child-abuse scandal. Bergoglio, whose appointment as pope was welcomed by the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, has been a critic of those priests who have been proved guilty of abuse, and he has refused to make ex
cuses for those who have been accused.
"I expect that he would be very firm in the handling of it," Crowley said. "That could be the place where he could be really resolute and where he could really make a mark."
Thus far, however, most talk amounts to mere speculation, and the new pope hasn't given many clues about what issues, if any, he will try to take on in the coming years.
He did offer a small insight into why he took the name Francis and how that is related to his vision for the Church. During a meeting with his first meeting with the press las Saturday, Bergoglio said that he chose the name in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, who was, "the man of the poor. The man of peace. The man who loved and cared for creation."
"Oh how I would like a poor church and a church for the poor," Pope Francis said.