Just a day before gay marriage in the U.S. received a significant boost from the Supreme Court, the much-anticipated Extraordinary Synod on the Family opened in Rome yesterday with Pope Francis pointedly criticizing “bad shepherds” who seek money and power and “lay intolerable burdens on the shoulders of others, which they themselves do not lift a finger to move.”
As some 190 bishops and a collection of lay advisors meet to discuss “pastoral challenges” facing Catholic families, divisions are being laid bare in the church that were largely suppressed in the Pope John Paul II/Benedict years, with a cabal of conservative bishops (presumably the “bad shepherds”) looking to beat back any liberalization of church doctrine promoted by more moderate cardinals.
Realistically any alteration of church doctrine that would come out of the synod would be modest and most likely would revolve around communion for divorced Catholics. On the more conservative end, there might be some minor tweaks to the annulment process that would broaden the grounds for annulment to include being too immature to have entered into a legitimate sacramental marriage.
Patricia Miller reports on the Extraordinary Synod on the Family for Religion Dispatches.