First, this post from Crux (and AP) is quite good in summarizing a lot of materially with balance and accuracy: “A Primer on Where the Pope Stands…” It gives brief portrayals of Francis’s position on abortion, capitalism, celibacy, contraception, the death penalty, divorce, drugs, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, environment, gays, gay marriage, immigration, indigenous, nuns, resignation, sexual abuse, Vatican reform, and women.
One area is not treated: liturgy. It’s a difficult one to take up – just what does Francis think about liturgy? He is surely a man of Vatican II who supports the reformed liturgy and doesn’t seem interested in a “reform of the reform” or making the liturgy look more traditionally “pre-Vatican II.” But at the same time, he is generous in spirit toward liturgical traditionalists and seems to want to make place for them in the post-conciliar church.
Now here is an article that treats Francis and liturgy: “The Pope’s Painful Liturgies” from Ethika Politika. Andrew Haines, Ph.D candidate in philosophy at CUA, writes things like this:
The painfulness of the Holy Father’s liturgies, I think, arises not from the character or celebration of the Mass itself, but from the clear lack of affection that Pope Francis maintains for the finer points of liturgical precision and splendor. It goes without saying that each of the pope’s Masses has been valid, undeniably reverent, and probably more visibly beautiful than all but a handful of Masses throughout the world. There is noticeably absent, however, the positive liturgical zeal of Benedict—that which many already (wrongly) construe as a negative and destructive force in itself.
Haines gets in muddy waters when he seems to criticize Francis for seeing the liturgy as something incomplete in itself: “Pope Francis seems always to have in mind its connection to real effects, both in the soul but also in the flesh..” Well, yes. Sacraments are always incomplete in themselves, always a means and not simply end in themselves.
By the end of it, after bringing in St. Benedict and St. Francis, Haines comes around (I think) to seeing how the Pope is challenging him, and admirably being open to that challenge:
The pain I experience with seeing the new pope’s liturgies is probably more the result of his intense joy at all other times. I sense acutely that my desire to serve is much thinner than my affection for a beautiful Mass.
I dunno, but I guess I don’t see Pope Francis joyless in celebrating the liturgy. He seems to me to be serious and prayerful.