It’s a victory for the status quo but all is not yet lost for Francis

The Guardian (UK)

Andrew Brown

Pope Francis appears to have been defeated after a bruising battle with conservative Catholic forces over his attempt to humanise the treatment of divorced and remarried couples. A second meeting of bishops from around the world, in a “synod on the family”, will probably end with no movement on the inflamed question of whether some divorced and remarried couples can be admitted to communion.

This may be scored as a draw between liberals and conservatives, but it has been contested as venomously as a Test match draw – and almost as publicly. Briefings, leaks, reports – vehemently denied – that the pope has a brain tumour, and threats of schism have all been used. According to the conservative Catholic blogger Damian Thompson, the next conclave – an occurrence which would require Francis’s resignation or death – can’t come soon enough for many conservatives. And this is the least hysterical language from that side.

The German delegation, broadly liberal, has issued a stinging denunciation of the conservative Australian Cardinal George Pell for language which was “false, imprecise and misleading.” In an interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro, Pell had accused the liberal German cardinal Walter Kasper of opposing Pope Benedict XVI, and this must have seemed a wholly unforgivable attack. The German cardinals said the words had “offended against the spirit of the synod and its fundamental rules … We distance ourselves decisively from this.”

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