The front page of The New York Times has the story many, regardless of their faith, are following. As I read the story all I could see was the chubby face of Bishop Morlino. I can see him pondering how he could best connive to set the church in a place that makes it smaller and more ideological at the exclusion of the rest of the world that wants to see a more open and all-embracing institution. I wonder at these meetings if Morlino travels alone or does he take a friend as a traveling companion? You know, someone to talk with and bounce ideas off of? Late at night in Rome I wonder if Morlino tries to square his view with all those in the churches in this region of Wisconsin who vehemently disagree with him?
The result has been the most momentous, and contentious, meeting of bishops in the 50 years since the Second Vatican Council, which brought the church into the modern era. The meeting has exposed deep fault lines between traditionalists focused on shoring up doctrine, and those who want the church to be more open to Catholics who are divorced, gay, single parents or cohabiting.
As the bishops face a deadline Saturday to present their report to the pope, it is increasingly clear that Francis is struggling to build consensus for his vision of a more inclusive and decentralized church. The question is whether the pope, who has won the hearts of those in the pews, can persuade the bishops to help create a church that fully welcomes people with the kinds of family situations it now condemns.
But condemnation is what Bishop Morlino does best!