There was some good discussion [by the synod fathers] of the issue, though not enough, and the final synod document is frankly inadequate and disappointing on the abuse matter. Church leaders outside the United States and a few other countries dealing with the problem clearly don’t understand its scope and gravity. There’s very little sense of heartfelt apology in the text. And clericalism, for example, is part of the abuse problem, but it’s by no means the central issue for many laypeople, especially parents.
The key to all of the sexuality debates is anthropological. One of the subtle and concerning problems in the synod text at various stages [was] its references to a need for ‘deepening’ or ‘developing’ our understanding of anthropological issues. Obviously we can, and should, always bring more prayer and reflection to complicated human issues. But the Church already has a clear, rich, and articulate Christian anthropology. It’s unhelpful to create doubt or ambiguity around issues of human identity, purpose, and sexuality, unless one is setting the stage to change what the Church believes and teaches about all three, starting with sexuality.
Many of the bishops were frustrated by the lack of advance translations for important issues they were expected to vote on. As one of the synod fathers argued, it’s actually immoral to vote ‘yes’ on significant issues if you can’t even read and reflect on what the text says. A lot of delegates were also surprised and unhappy with the introduction of synodality as a topic in a gathering themed to young people. It isn’t a natural fit. Synodality has serious implications. It deserves serious theological reflection and discussion among the bishops. That didn’t happen, which doesn’t seem consistent with a coming-together of Pope and bishops in a spirit of collegiality.