Maybe it's some sort of hopeless optimism, because I'm catholic, but I think that despite his publicly announced position towards gay marriage and contraception, he is a man of dialogue, he's very humble and is a "reachable" kind of person. I do think that, though he probably will not provide the ultimate "solution" or agreement for universally accepting gay marriage, contraception and such among the catholic community, he could pave the way for a serious start towards that. He does realize the times have changed, and he can't afford ignoring that or closing the door for the open discussion on the matter. Sometimes I do feel bad because there has been some serious criticism towards catholicism, and believe it or not, I do feel judged as well and feel like I'm put into a group of people I don't feel identified with (I'm even shy sometimes of saying I'm catholic, because of the constant jokes and everything). Not all of us catholics are judgemental or too rigid and old fashioned, and I know that the way I feel isn't comparable to the way gay people feel for example, which is an endless scrutiny, debate and fight for rights (which I hope they are fullfilled over time). I respect people of every race, religion and/or sexual preference as well as I respect atheists because they all have the right of choice. I don't consider myself a typical catholic because I choose to live and express my faith in my own way (i.e I'm not church frequent), but I only wish others would respect my faith the same way I respect theirs (or their lack of it). Anyway, time will tell where this new Pope will lead the Catholic Church into, I hope it'll be forward.