Pope Benedict XVI made reaching out to other faiths and promoting Christian unity hallmarks of his tenure. Pope Francis will continue this work, not only because he has a history of facilitating religious dialogue, but also because global Catholicism requires it.
In geographic and spiritual identity, Pope Francis is both an insider and an outsider. He is uncategorizable -- and that will allow him to bridge old divides and reenergize the church.
When Pope Benedict XVI visits Cuba next month, he will reinforce a strategy that the Vatican has allowed the local Catholic Church there to pursue for more than three decades: avoid confronting the Castro regime, collaborate with Havana to combat the U.S.-led embargo, and support the Cuban government’s incremental economic reforms. In exchange, the Church gets the space to rebuild its presence for the possible post-Castro economic boom times to come.