I was raised to be a Roman Catholic. And I tried really hard. Looking back, it was probably around 2nd grade when I became a closeted atheist. As time passed, I became like many closeted people---denying my closeted beliefs and trying really hard to live outside. Obviously, since I'm writing this, I have come out of the proverbial closet.
As a liberal, there are many parts (some little known) of the Church's social teachings that really are amazingly powerful, caring, and loving. I've often thought them to be the Church's best kept secret, unfortunately.
Pope Francis has really taken off in popularity. He has been named "person of the year" for Time magazine and The Advocate. These are great things. I've even heard some say that he speaks to the modern world in a way that has not been heard or seen since John XXIII during the era of Vatican II.
Even as an atheist, I can appreciate Pope Francis' words and deeds. I hope it continues and, more importantly, I hope it brings a change to Church he leads.
However, in some ways, I am saddened by his popularity. You may think that a crazy thing to say about someone doing such good and bringing about hope in people. What bothers me is that when it comes to his predecessors in the role of Vicar of Christ, the Christ Head on Earth, his words and deeds are the exception not the norm. In the line of St. Peter, the Church's social teachings should not be a secret that Pope Francis is bringing out of the closet. The Church needed the Pope Francises throughout its history. His message, his actions, should really have been and continue to be the rule, not the exception.