I started writing this as a comment on the post about the above allegation about Pope Francis. It kept getting longer so I decided to turn it into a separate post.
I'm not expressing venom or hatred toward the Pope. I state that without qualification, regardless of whether it may appear that way, because I know that's not what I feel. Nor is Carl Olson, who made the "aversion to precision" remark in the page to which I linked, a hater: see this account of his efforts to talk to a CNN reporter about the pope, to whom he is obviously sympathetic. ("No, I'm certain he's not a socialist. His criticisms of capitalism and liberal economics, again, are very much in keeping with what can be found in Benedict XVI, John Paul II, and Leo XIII".)
My conclusion that a certain amount of what Francis says can be treated lightly is more a defense of him than an attack on him. I would much prefer to think that he is sometimes a loose and imprecise talker than that he is deliberately trying to suggest that he objects to certain important Catholic doctrines and practices.
I'm not a Vatican watcher and did not follow the Synod in detail, or have any desire to do so. However, there seems to be pretty wide agreement that a struggle took place between those who want to remove the prohibition against communion by divorced and remarried people and those who do not, and that the latter won. And partisans of both sides seem to think Francis wanted communion after divorce and remarriage to be allowed.
Well, the appeal of that is obvious and great. I dare say there is no one reading this who has not either been married and divorced or been close to someone who has, and does not feel and acknowledge the pain involved, and wish to alleviate it. But the logical implications of the change also seem pretty obvious and great to me. It would raise huge questions that go to the heart of the Church's nature and mission.
So the general view--and I'm only repeating what actual Vatican watchers on both sides have been saying--is that Pope Francis lost a battle. See this in the National Catholic Reporter for a view from the "progressive" side: "...if Pope Francis didn’t at least get communion for divorced and remarried Catholics the Synod could not be considered a success." In that context, several very negative remarks in his closing address seem like digs aimed at his opposition. The address is fine otherwise, but "dead stones to be hurled at others," to pick the strongest example, is quite nasty if its object is those who resisted a very questionable change in the Church's practice. Could he not even credit them with a sincere desire to do God's will in a difficult matter? Wasn't he talking warmly about collegiality a little while ago? (Anyone who has experienced institutional attempts by the powerful to manipulate the rank-and-file into a bogus appearance of consensus may suspect that they're seeing something similar here.)
Which would indicate a lower opinion of the pope: to believe that he very thoughtfully and carefully said exactly what he believes about those who resisted him--that they are contemptible--or to believe that he is prone to extravagant and imprudent speech which doesn't necessarily represent his more fully considered thoughts? I know there are some cranky people out there who have gone a bit nuts about Francis. The worst are the American political conservatives (not necessarily Catholic) who want to write him off because his political views don't suit them. But there are also a lot of people like me who want to think the best of the pope but have been troubled almost from the beginning by a persistent uneasiness about him. I don't like it, but it's there.
Maybe I should just keep my mouth shut. But that makes me think of another common feature of modern institutions: the meeting (often called a "listening session"!) where everyone is admonished to speak freely, but where everyone also knows what the powers want to hear, and that to say otherwise would be a mistake.