LOPEZ: By greeting people outside of Mass on Sunday in Rome as he just did, is Francis simply modeling a parish priest for all the world to see?
WEIGEL: St. Ann’s, the church at which he celebrated Mass this past Sunday, is the “parish church” of Vatican City, so yes, he was introducing himself to his new parishioners. And why not? He’s a pastor, meeting his people.
LOPEZ: Was the pope surprisingly warm to the media during the Saturday audience?
WEIGEL: All that I spoke to were charmed. And the simplicity of his self-presentation was in welcome contrast to the baroque formulations to which the Vatican press office has become addicted.
LOPEZ: What would you like to see people take from your book as we enter Week Two of a new papacy, and the end of Lent?
WEIGEL: A sense of hope for a bright Catholic future, in which a purified and revivified Catholicism, meeting the Lord once again on the Emmaus roads of the 21st century, rediscovers the power that comes from a commitment to mission.
LOPEZ: What do you hope the Roman Curia is taking from it?
WEIGEL: Well, some who have read Evangelical Catholicismare very enthusiastic, and others are not. We’ll see who’s still here in a year, and then we can assess impacts.
LOPEZ: Has anything other than the choice of pope surprised you these past weeks?
WEIGEL: I was frankly surprised by the rapidity of the conclave (although I had been given a tip before the Wednesday voting session that things might in fact move faster, which they clearly did). I was pleasantly surprised by the determination to clean house, and not just in terms of letting a few manifest incompetents fade into the sunset, but in the sense of a real commitment to cultural change in the curia — which I take as a sign that the new evangelization is taking hold, because it’s seized the imagination of the Church’s shepherds, or at least a critical mass of them. And I was sadly surprised that some senior churchmen still don’t seem to understand that chronic self-referentiality is not a winning way to preach the Gospel.
LOPEZ: What should we be listening most for when listening to Francis?
WEIGEL: The pure Gospel, in which goodness and strength, as he said in his inaugural homily, go together.
— Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online.