Ross Douthat has given a lecture called "The Crisis of Conservative Catholicism" and you can read it at First Things by pressing this sentence. It is worth reading!
I would say that Douthat captures the depressed mood of conservative Catholics about the current pontificate and that so many John Paul II/Benedict appointed bishops and cardinals sympathize with a Church that is more center-left than center-right.
The greatest problem with the Church,though, is that the post-Vatican II Church has become a polarized Church that is unfaithful. This is both on the left and the right in their extremes.
Let me talk about the extremism on the conservative side since most who read my blog aren't liberal.
Since Pope Francis, we have seen so-called traditionalists act in the same manner toward Pope Francis as so-called liberals did toward both John Paul II and Benedict. Ugliness has surfaced and what I have called a pseudo Protestantism.
Catholics know that popes can make mistakes and the last five popes have made plenty. No pope is perfect. But Catholics rooted in their faith know they must respect the Magisterium of the Church even when they disagree with this, that or the other.
Douthat show that Pope Francis, certainly a lightening rod for polarization, does not fit neatly into American understanding of conservative or liberal. But when it comes to liberal leanings, Pope Francis is more focused on the poor, immigration and being inclusive compared to conservative Catholicism focused more on condemning, more on abortion, more on the pelvic issues and sex and marriage. Pope Francis has shifted the papacy to different concerns.
The middle road is the way to navigate the extremes in the Church. Elitism is not the answer.
There is room for focused communities though. Some are charismatic, which are conservative in the Protestant sense, but far from those who desire the EF Mass. Marc writes about finding a true home in the FSSP, although he is fickle and without firm roots in the true Church yet. But there is a place for Marc-like Catholics as there is for charismatic Catholics at the other spectrum of worship in the Church.
We must be flexible in order not to break and leave the Church as so many on the right and left have. This is called commitment similar to marriage vows, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health...
But we cannot become so flexible that anything goes and Catholic identity is completely lost.
Finally, the Church is supernatural and already completely in heaven. While there will be crisis in the time between now and eternity in the Church, the Holy Spirit will guide her in His own time which is eternity.
In the meantime, we have to live with the Magisterium and accept what comes even if we don't like this, that or the other. It is God's Church, not our own.
So far, on the liturgical level, Pope Francis models a reverent, sober liturgical approach. He approved the Ordinariate's Missal which bodes well that our current OF Mass may be allowed the same look and options from the EF Mass that it already has at Pope Francis approval.
The EF Mass will never be the Ordinary Form of the Mass again. That hope has to die and be buried. But an improvement on the OF Mass will occur along the lines of the Ordinariate Missal--a reform of the reform. Pope Francis Sistine Chapel Mass is a sign of this and that a perceive liberal pope celebrated Mass this way should give those who want a dignified liturgy even in the Ordinary Form hope.
Reform of the reform in continuity is the way forward. Going backwards to the 1970's or the 1950's isn't!!!!! Compassion for people in dysfunctional, irregular lives has to be the way too. We can't shun everyone in order to maintain our own purity, especially if we are insecure in our purity and are tempted by the world too much.