The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a group that represents many sex abuse victims, hopes so and its leaders and some victims are speaking out.
"I had no expectations whatsoever. In fact, I was almost rooting for (Cardinal) Roger Mahony so that I could turn my back completely and totally on the church and that part of my life," said Udo Strutynski, who says he survived three years of abuse at the hands of a priest in Los Angeles in the 1950s.
However, Strutynski said he is pleasantly surprised by the cardinals' choice in Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who chose the name of Francis as the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church.
"I felt pretty good about him," Strutynski said. "I thought this is much better than I dreamt of."
Strutynski said what struck him most about the archbishop of Argentina was his humility and his decision to take the name of Pope Francis.
"I think the man wants to send a message with that name, and in a very gentle way, he's saying no more business as usual," Strutynski said.
Despite the positive first impression, Strutynski is guarded in his optimism, saying the church has a long way to go before it can repair the damage it has done to victims of abuse and address the other issues crippling Catholic leadership. Among them are birth control, divorce, the role of women in the church and gay marriage.
"All of those problems have taken centuries to build up and to bring the church to the position it is there now and I think it's going to take centuries to really resolve it," Strutynski said. "This man, unlike any of the others that were named, might just be the one to take the first step."