Ross Douthat says he was mistaken to predict earlier this year that the new pope wouldn’t be able to do much to turn around the Catholic Church’s image. But:

More important, I was entirely wrong about the Vatican’s image being inextricably tied to the legacy of the sex-abuse crisis. To date, the new pope has done much less than the underappreciated Benedict on that front, but nobody in the Western press seems to care: even as American bishops continue to mishandle abuse cases, Francis’s blend of charisma, asceticism and inclusivity have been sufficient to reverse a decade of bad press for Catholicism.

In a way, I’m grateful to have been wrong, since the message and mission of the church deserve as much attention as the continuing blindness of some bishops. But that blindness still needs to be addressed, and it’s troubling, and telling, that the media would give a more liberal-seeming pope a pass on an issue they hammered his predecessor on at every opportunity. And if I’d been just a little more cynical about these things, I probably would have seen it coming.