For Pope Francis, the reform of the reform is much more than about the liturgy or the curia, it is about Catholics and our identity and recovering a strong Catholic identity lost after Vatican II, a reform of the reform of the clergy, the religious and the laity, built upon the "reform of the reform in continuity," that Pope Benedict kicked into high gear!
My personal opinion is that we are actually into part III of the reform of the reform. Part I began with Pope John Paul II with his election in 1978. He brought the papacy to the world in order to shore up a lagging Catholic identity foisted upon the Church by a strong minority of liberal theologians and bishops who misrepresented Vatican II and tried mightily to deconstruct the Catholic Church in order to make the Church more Protestant in order to accomplish Christian Unity. Divisiveness resulted instead and a dramatic loss of Catholic identity.
So Pope John Paul II went about restoring the great discipline of the Church. But his weakness was that he focused too much on the force of his personality, what some would call the cult of the personality.
Then Pope Benedict, an intellectual and academic liturgist took the helm and he calmed down the cult of the personality surrounding the person of the pope and placed it back upon the office and its trappings. He went about reforming the liturgy and bringing it into continuity with the 1962 Missal of Vatican II. He insisted that the revision of the Latin post Vatican II Missal have additional dismissals, the most important one being, "Go in peace, glorifying the Lord with your life." His first encyclical was on love which is the basis and foundation of Catholic identity, for God is Love.
And now we have the Gospel simplicity of Pope Francis and his reform of the reform will focus on the people of the Church, the clergy, the religious and the laity.
He wants priests to get out of the sacristy and focus on evangelizing the parish and encouraging the laity to take their post-Vatican II role in the world seriously just as Vatican II taught. They are to take the gift of their Catholic faith and good works to the world to evangelize, to go on mission. This must be shored up with the liturgy properly celebrated, popular devotions and a keen sense of Catholic teaching.
The religious, especially women religious are to be faithful to the Magisterium of the Church just as everyone else who is Catholic is to be. This means stepping away from the radical feminism that so many women religious have embraced and a skewed understanding of obedience as though it can be accomplished in contradiction to the the Magisterium.
Folks this is about Catholic identity, built upon the reform of the reform of the Liturgy, the recovery of popular devotions, solid catechesis and going out to the world to convert, convert, convert, not by force but by persuasion, by witness and by love, especially love and care for the poor, the spiritually poor, the materially poor and the sick and suffering who are poor in another way. This can only be accomplished by a strong Catholic identity.
Up until now, it seems that for the past 50 years, we have focused in on the structures of the Church and rearranging the furniture, changing how we dress, using new languages for the liturgy. We've focused in on institutional, material things, when we should have kicked our Catholic identity into high gear and brought our Catholic faith to the world.
If we had simply done that 50 years ago when Catholics had a strong identity, rather than eroding that identity with superficial changes and calling into question the great patrimony of the Church inherited with 2000 years of tradition, maybe we would be in a much better place today.
But no, we imposed Vatican II's dissenting spirit upon unsuspecting priests, religious and laity and did it in the most pre-Vatican II authoritarian way possible. And it was mostly wrong and ruined the faith a millions of rank and file Catholics in the process. This happened with religious formation of our young and old, with liturgy, with prayer and with popular devotions.
Reform of the reform is going back to our traditional roots and building upon these roots rather than destroying them, especially our strong Catholic identity as clergy, religious and laity. This is about traditional Catholicism in the Church and in the world. Pope Francis gets it. Reforming the clergy, religious and laity is going to be his contribution to the "reform of the reform in continuity." I wonder what Part IV will be?