A great reflection from a reader:
The MSM is constantly looking at this through the lens of “Francis is different therefore Francis must be changing something” and therefore reports it as if he has.
Unfortunately, Catholics sometimes think that way, too! But really, the Church is more than any one Pope. The Church’s teachings are those of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Therefore, whenever Francis says something that can obviously be interpreted at least 5 different ways, we know that the only correct interpretation has to be that one which is consistent with previous Church teachings.
So I agree completely with your suggestion of speaking directly with the people involved whenever one hears this sort of thing at the parish level.
In fact, whenever possible (and one has to be a fairly well-educated Catholic to do it), when one does hear such a thing, the best approach is something like “You are correct; the Pope has just said we should be more X and less Y. Reminds me of when Benedict said thus-and-such, and what I read in Encyclical ABC written back in the year XXXX. Isn’t it wonderful that the Church is always consistent in her teachings from age to age!”