Ross Douthat of the New York Times weighs in on the win loss scoreboard of the Synod:
Nobody, of course, because there weren’t two “sides” or camps or (heaven help us) factions or anything so nasty as all that. It was all a dialogue, a moment of encounter and discernment, an opening to the Holy Spirit that set the Roman Catholic Church free to be church in a new way for the third millennium. It was a beginning, an overture, the first chapter in a neverending story, the first step on a permanent journey, because we are all sojourners together. So nobody won, because really everybody won.
As Saint Athanasius would say, LOL. No, look, what actually happened is that conservatives won what was probably the closest thing to victory that they could have hoped for, given that 1) the pope was against them, and 2) the pope stacked the governing and writing committees and the voting ranks, and did I mention that 3) the pope was against them. (People who still argue that Pope Francis was studiously neutral, that he just wanted dialogue, or that his views are unknowable, need to sit down and read the tongue-lashing he gave to conservatives in his closing address — and contrast it with the much more evenhanded way he closed last fall’s synod, when conservative resistance to the synod’s intended direction was much more disorganized.) Which is to say they produced a document that used unfashionable words like “indissoluble” to talk about marriage, that mostly avoided the subject of homosexuality, and that offered a few dense, occasionally-ambiguous, slightly-impenetrable paragraphs on welcoming and accompanying divorced and remarried Catholics without offering either a path to communion absent an annulment or proposing to devolve that question to national bishops conferences, as the German bishops and the rest of the progressive caucus at the synod clearly wished.
So the journalists covering the synod document as a setback for the innovators (and, because he elevated them, the pontiff) are mostly correct, given their ambitions going in. But so, in a certain way, are the journalists covering it as a kind of cracked-door to innovation, because the conservatives didn’t have the votes or the power to keep every ambiguity at bay. The most straightforward reading of the synod text supports the first interpretation, for the reasons that (among others) George Weigel and Robert Royal lay out: There is no abrogation of the ancient ban on communion for the remarried, and plenty of phrasings that indicate that ban is still in force. But at the same time, as Royal also notes, the text is not as plain as the document it quotes, John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio, and it spends so much time talking about discernment and individual cases that it seems to sometimes come “right up to the edge” of communion for the remarried, as Royal puts it, without “crossing over into it in so many words.”
Go here to read the rest. I think a good way to look at this is to ask why was the Pope so angry about the outcome of the Synod? Because I think that he realizes that if he simply allows Catholics in adulterous marriages to be given Communion by papal fiat he will quickly be facing a major schism. He clearly wants to give Communion to Catholics in such marriages, but he wanted to
lie pretend that the whole Church was in favor of this courtesy of the Synod. Now if he acts, he will be seen by many Catholics as no longer the Vicar of Christ, but rather the leader of a faction within the Church wishing to impose a heretical agenda on the Church. This why he is pushing the Synodal baloney in order to distance himself from what the Germans will be doing on Communion. What will the Pope do next? PopeWatch would not bet against a furious Pope ultimately deciding to risk the schism. The Pope clearly does not tolerate opposition and acts on impulse and that is a dangerous combination for any leader.