During these two years of Francis' Papacy ideas that most of us considered dying have been revived and been argued over afresh in new ways. Cardinal Kasper's thesis which many in German speaking dioceses have quietly supported and even put into practice not only was it met with stony silence when presented to the Consistory of Cardinals, but it has been opposed in writing by first five Cardinals, then eleven and now by a number of African bishops who to represent the majority of African Cardinals and bishops.
I believe in St Vincent of Lerins' dictum that the Catholic Faith is that which is believed in 'always, everywhere and at all times'. The great problem is that for the last 50 years or more, most Catholics have not believed in the Church's teaching, or just given it lip service, especially on the family aand sexuality.
What we have seen in recent times, most especially during Pope Francis's papacy is that all the poisons that lurk in the mud are hatching out, because the Catholic Church has actually not been Catholic, the stripping away of papal pomp has revealed a more than ambiguous papacy than we have been used to. We have pretended andtried to maintain an image of a great monolithic Church that does not exist.
One of my parishioners said that for the first time in his life he has started to ask, 'is the Pope a Catholic?' The real question should be, 'is the Catholic Church Catholic?' As the centre of communion the Pope reflects the Church, which is often confused and ambiguous, it contains Catholics as well as uber and unter Catholics. A good Irish friend of mine said of a bishop, 'In my day he wouldn't have been allowed to make his Holy Communion let alone be made a bishop'. The Catholic Church is not even in its hierarchical structure supposed to be like a secular monarchy or presidency, with the Pope at the top, below him 'his' bishops, 'their' clergy and then the laity, bishops are also successors of the Apostles and priests are not bishops servants but according to the rite of ordination, 'co-workers with the order of bishops'. The Church is a Communion, and we hold the faith together, there are tensions and different emphasises, different pastoral practices, different needs, different interests, 'together we form the body of Christ'. 'The faith' is given to us in baptism and held 'by all, everywhere and always', within the the Communion the bishops together with the Pope have a particular role in safeguarding the faith, and the Pope has a unique role as the bishop of Rome in recognising the authenticity of those in Communion with the Church of Rome, and therefore in Communion with the rest of the Church, throughout history it held the moderate position, the via media.
Bishop Schneider suggested that we should have a post-Vatican II set of anathemas issued by the Pope, somehow I think this is not going to happen, but the Synod will bring about some kind of agreement, some kind of statement of Catholic faith, I suspect afterwards the Pope will use often, 'they said', it will become a stock Papal phrase. Of course it will be a fudge, some will suggest it is not even Catholic, it will be an attempt to find a consensus. Most probably it will give to local bishops the duty of making particular 'pastoral' decisions, which will itself be considered divisive, it will actually be the starting point for further debate on what is meant by Catholic, but it will be the beginning of a long process to re-Catholicise the Church. It will be a painful process for many but Christ promises to be with his Church until the end of time.
In many ways we are in time of repairing the damage done to the Church after the Vatican Council, interpreted through the most extreme interpretations of the spirit of Vatican I, which is most clearly seen with Mgr Bugnini's Liturgical Consillium, the bishops in Council decided one thing and Rome, exceeding anything known in history, imposed something else on the Church.