Pope Francis is clearly making a name for himself as a world-historical figure. He has gained great respect for his efforts to reform the Catholic Church internally — by cleaning up the Vatican Bank, by restructuring the Curia, by opening up debates over divorced and gay Catholics. These accomplishments alone are significant. He is changing the direction of the Catholic Church from a self-enclosed shell fearful of the world and towards a confident Church not afraid of arguing with itself.
But just as profoundly, he is beginning to reshape the world. This is the clear impact of the role Pope Francis has apparently played in the thawing of U.S. — Cuban relations. Read more at my Religious Left Law column.