This synod has been so odd that fanciful explanations are demanded. I haven’t any clear idea what will happen, so think of this as synodal spitballin’. First, some facts.
Fact. The Pope is a Jesuit, hence he knows the definition of jesuitical.
Fact. His Holiness likes to mix it up. He welcomes fights and said the only place there aren’t any is in the graveyard. This is manly, and is an under-appreciated aspect of his papacy.
Fact. In this vein, he has invited, inter alia, the possibly mad Cardinal Danneels, whose views and actions are so preposterous, so outrageously opposite of what is expected of a Cardinal that they’ve given rise to the rumor Danneels is the Pope’s Luca Brasi. (I started this rumor, incidentally. Right here.)
Fact. Pope Francis knows the traditionalists aren’t going anywhere, despite not being invited to the Synod. No matter what happens, we’re not going to see fellows like Cardinal Burke install rainbow pastel bunting in his office in preparation for a joint fondue party and rap session.
Fact. Everybody knows Dogma, most especially those running from it. It isn’t therefore necessary to “balance” the Synod. All attendees know what is required from them, what it means to be Catholic.
Fact. An unhealthy chunk of attendees don’t like what it means to be Catholic, and since, given their predilections, acting in an orthodox manner can be wearying to them, and since they don’t have enough guts to resign—what would a sixty-five-year-old ex-bishop do for a living, anyway?—they seek to make their own lives better within the Church by changing it into what it isn’t.
Fact. This can’t happen.
Now there are many unduly pessimistic interpretations of these facts floating about, but I think they possibly bear another, happier view.
Just think. Soupy Cupich, the Archbishop of Chicago took a break from hectoring people about low-wattage light bulbs and openly said that, in re morals, all that really matters is personal conscience and that confession isn’t about forgiveness, but about seeing somebody “eye to eye”, about meeting them on “their journey.” The implication that sin is what makes you feel bad, that confession is just a friendly chat, is so ludicrous that you have to laugh. Cupich knows dogma. He knows, therefore, that what he has said and what he espouses is against dogma. And he doesn’t care.
Then consider the swimming-in-wealth German contingent. These guys have come right out and said—strutting while doing so—we shouldn’t take Jesus too seriously about divorce and that the Church needs to keep up with progress. And there are many more similar instances.
These guys aren’t speaking in euphemism or beating around the burning bush. They’re spouting plainly, so there can be no mistake. They know their views are against dogma. Yet still they say them. Why?
Because they expect the Pope will back them! I say he won’t. I say they’ve been tricked, duped into laying their cards on the table. It’s now clear where everybody stands and there’s no going back. I say there’s going to be plenty of weeping and gnashing of the teeth once Francis issues whatever document or decrees he’s going to release based on the Synod. Or, meditating on the example of Arius, that the Holy Father won’t have a chance to do anything heretical.
The case of civilly divorced and remarried is interesting. Jesus said directly such people commit adultery, a hell-worthy sin, and the Church has always said hell-worthy sins make one unfit to receive Holy Communion. But this hell-worthy sin has become so prevalent that Communion lines would be as short as a Hilary Clinton book signing.
Now many of the folks in these situations feel badly that they cannot openly receive communion, and their cries have reached the ears of modern bishops, who in turn have worked out “pastoral” solutions so that the aggrieved get what they want. Dogma remains dogma, the bishops say, but we won’t actually use it.
This doesn’t work. Dogma openly flouted becomes non-dogma. Rules are rules. Of course, sometimes people break them, and sometimes the breaking is winked at; or rather, a blind eye is focused on the breaking. And, surely, there must be instances where temporary blindness is merciful. But as soon as a sufficient mass (get it? get it?) of folk learn of systematized blindness, it becomes as if the rule doesn’t exist—and then dogma withers.
That means the only true “pastoral solution” must be open, consistent, and clear insistence on dogma, but where, in private and quietly, certain individual cases are handled as the Spirit moves. There isn’t space here to give a full theology of the Blind Eye, but I think you have the idea.