The pope has smoked out his opposition

National Catholic Reporter

Robert Mickens | Oct. 26, 2015 A Roman Observer

If you really want to know what happened inside the Synod of Bishops this past month, don’t obsess too much over its final report (relatio) on the church and the family.

Each of that document’s ninety-four articles or paragraphs was approved by at least two-thirds of the 264 prelates (and one layman) that showed up for the final vote. And the reason there was such overwhelming approval is because of a delicate compromise that took all of the most controversial issues off the table or treated them with open-ended language.

Nonetheless, Catholics of contrasting points of views (and even ideologies) have found ways to claim “victory” for their side through a favorable reading of one passage or another. But they are missing the point.

Pope Francis’ novel decision to call the synod into session twice in twelve months to speak freely about the exact same issue (“the vocation and mission of the family in the Church and the contemporary world”) was primarily not about the family. Rather, it was about re-introducing a process of discussion and debate at the highest level of the church, not seen since the first years immediately following the Second Vatican Council. He confirmed as much in a key address he gave on Oct. 17 during a symposium to mark the 50th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops.

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