With the Synod on the family coming up in October, Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa tells us what we know right now:
Francis began with the distribution, one year ago, of an open-ended questionnaire on all the questions concerning the family, from contraception to communion for the divorced, from de facto couples to marriage between homosexuals. And some national episcopates, with the German-speaking ones in the lead, revealed their results, igniting expectations of liberalization in the discipline of the Church.
But then, above all, Francis gathered a consistory of cardinals in Rome last February as a dry run for the upcoming synod. And to whom did he entrust the introductory presentation? To the German cardinal Walter Kasper, who back in the early 1990’s was a combative supporter of getting rid of the ban on communion for the remarried, but was defeated and reduced to silence, at the time, by John Paul II and Joseph Ratzinger.
Kasper’s talk is the only part of that consistory that has been made known, all the rest has remained secret. But to judge by the subsequent public forays of some of the cardinals, it is clear that the resistance to the changes proposed by Kasper has been and continues to be entrenched, belligerent, and authoritative.
Among the resisters who have come out into the open are cardinals Gerhard L. Müller, prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, Raymond L. Burke, Timothy M. Dolan, Marc Ouellet, George Pell, Fernando Sebastián Aguilar, Carlo Caffarra, Angelo Scola, all generally classified among the conservatives. But there are also cardinals viewed as progressive, like the Austrian Christoph Schönborn, who are joining the coalition against Kasper.
The American Jesuit Thomas Reese, the former director of the magazine “America” and an influential opinion maker, an all-out fan of Jorge Mario Bergoglio at the beginning of the pontificate, after this latest blow has moved definitively into the opposing camp, against what for him is a betrayal of the awaited revolution.
But the battle has just begun. The upcoming synod will not draw any conclusions. It will have a second round in October of 2015. After which it will be not the synod, but Pope Francis, who decides what to do.
Go here to read the rest. The Synod will tell us a great deal about the future of the current pontificate and about the factions within the College of Cardinals. Stay tuned. PopeWatch suspects that by Vatican standards this will be a lively Synod indeed.