The following comes from a December 28 Crux article by John L. Allen Jr.:
Sometime soon, Pope Francis is expected to issue his own conclusions on the two recent Synods of Bishops on the family in the form of a document, technically known as an “apostolic exhortation.” Veteran Italian Vatican writer Marco Tosatti recently reported that the document could appear as early as February, while others suggest a March release date, perhaps tied to the feast of St. Joseph on March 19.
While the two synods, one held in October 2014 and the other this past October, touched on a wide variety of topics, by far the single most contested question was that of whether to allow divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion. It’s become a key test of exactly how far Francis is willing to go in terms of rethinking traditional Catholic teaching and practice.
Logically speaking, the pope would seem to have four possibilities:
• 1. A clear “yes” to Communion for the divorced and remarried, even if it would require some discernment in individual cases.
• 2. A clear “no,” while still stressing that divorced and civilly remarried believers remain part of the Church and can participate in its life in various other ways.
• 3. A call for more study and reflection, saying that the time isn’t right to make a decision.
• 4. Decentralizing the question to some extent by offering broad guidelines and then encouraging local bishops to make decisions.
Tosatti believes that Francis will choose door No. 4, using language that won’t be seen as a clear win for the “yes” camp associated with German Cardinal Walter Kasper, but which will encourage greater latitude for local bishops.