We have a few takeaways from lo scandalo della lettera, day one:
- It was the Pope’s own men, for the most part, who objected to the Synod’s procedure (as of October 5). Three heads of dicasteries—CDF, CDW, Economy—and four other papal appointees signed the letter, apparently.
- Cardinal Dolan‘s signature on the letter, coupled with his interesting comment on his website, shows that the position contra Kasper has some nuance. No one would have lumped Cardinal Dolan in with the conservatives.
- Africa is not backing down.
- The Vatican really struggles with media. Banning Sandro Magister from the Press Office (over the Laudato si’ leak) has plainly not limited his influence. More than that, Fr. Rosica and Fr. Spadaro notwithstanding, the Vatican really seems to struggle with new media especially. A few coy statements to favored outlets will not slow down a story as explosive as The Letter.
- Once again, the Synod is about process. The goal of consensus was going to be hard to achieve after last October. Now, with all the issues with process, it’s unlikely that consensus will be meaningful, even if achieved. No matter who “loses,” and it is passing strange to talk about winners and losers in this context, they’ll be able to blame the process. (The fix was in versus The right-wingers derailed our dialogue.)
To our mind, there is one interesting question. What does Francis do now? When he got The Letter, he intervened personally in the Synod to make it clear that he supported the process as it stood on October 5. But hardly anyone knew about it then. Things have changed.