Over the past few years some have called the secular press harsh toward the Catholic Church because of its reporting of the clergy abuse scandal. But the stories reported in recent weeks, and particularly about World Youth Day, certainly do not — in my view, at least — represent a media critical of the Catholic Church. Print, broadcast and social media are filled with the words of Pope Francis — words that indicate openness and a movement toward inclusiveness that is welcomed by people of faith and, perhaps, by those searching for faith. I was particularly touched by the pope’s comments on his way home from Brazil about homosexuality and the role of women in the Church. His remarks concerning homosexuality — “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” — is good advice for the rest of us!In reference to women in the Church, Pope Francis said, “We must go further in the explicitness of the role and charism of women living the Church. We talk about whether they can be this or that … but we don’t have a deep theology of women in the Church.” I doubt many women would disagree with this. And while the pope said the door on ordination for women is closed, as declared by Pope John Paul II, just the fact that he would articulate a larger role for women in the Church indicates an understanding and perhaps harkens to change in the future. The pope’s statements about gay people and the role of women were seen by some as nothing new but others saw hope. I am with the latter. If we believe in the power of the Holy Spirit to inspire and facilitate movement within the Church, the Pope’s public statements — unrehearsed before a group of reporters — is, I believe, a sign the Spirit is at work among us. There was more. On divorced and remarried Catholics the pope said, “This theme always comes up…. I believe this is a time of mercy, a change of epoch…. In terms of Communion for those who have divorced and remarried it has to be seen within the larger pastoral context of marriage." These statements indicate that the real life concerns of the faithful are being considered, which is encouraging and affirming. It offers the picture of a Church full of light with doors and windows open, and people of diverse backgrounds, ages and cultures participating and planning just how they are going to make a difference in the world and share the Good News.The most hopeful of his statements is the following: “I like it when someone tells me I don’t agree. This is a true collaborator.” This seems to say that Pope Francis is open to ideas that differ from his own and that he is willing to listen and consider alternative views. A few years ago I came across a phrase coined by theologian Margaret Farley: “the grace of self-doubt.” It means that all people in the Church, from the pulpit to the pews, receive a grace that allows them to consider another’s view while working with them to come to understanding or agreement. The Catholic Church moves slowly, valuing and honoring teachings and traditions from ancient times. It appears that Pope Francis is giving us a glimpse of movement on the journey — and for that many of us are grateful. Anne Hansen is a member of the Camarillo Catholic community and regional director for Ignatian Volunteer Corps Los Angeles. Her e-mail address is [email protected].{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/0809/familytime/{/gallery}