“The synod will be a beautiful moment,” said Cardinal Re, adding, “The pope has given a direction different from the past — certainly it is a journey that will bear fruit.”
Some analysts have compared the meeting to a miniature Second Vatican Council — the landmark church assembly of bishops in the 1960s that opened up the church to the modern world. Francis has made it clear that he wants many, if not all, of his bishops behind him, and analysts say the German church risks not only raising the pope’s ire, but also exposing how alone it is on the issue of gay blessings in a global church.
The German bishops did appear to bow to some papal pressure, delaying carrying out the blessings for three years, which will give Francis time to run the issues through his major meeting.
“We will see the real situation with the universal synod; we can see the strengths of the different groups,” Mr. Politi said. He added, “Francis has opened doors and windows and new paths which are and which will continue to be important for the Catholic Church. There is no going back.”
But the church’s liberals remain frustrated by what they view as a holdup.
“Today, it seems clear that Pope Francis has a ‘Gorbachev problem’ — enormous acclaim outside the Catholic Church but increasingly brazen opposition from within,” John L. Allen Jr., the editor of Crux, a news site specializing in coverage of the Vatican and the Catholic Church, wrote on Sunday, comparing Francis to Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet president.
“Also like Gorbachev, Francis’ foes come both from a traditionalist right unhappy with his progressive agenda and an impatient left increasingly hungry for actual revolution rather than mere reform.”
Francis has shifted from entertaining talk of resigning to speaking more about the papacy being a lifetime ministry. But after health ailments that have him leaning on a cane or using a wheelchair some wonder how much time for change is left.
“Time flies,” Francis said in a Vatican podcast on Monday. “When you gather up today, it is already tomorrow.”