Barack Obama announced in 2012 that religious liberty was “an inalienable right that is enshrined in our Constitution. As a citizen and as a Christian, I cherish this right.” Yet as president he encouraged his colleagues to pursue the Little Sisters of the Poor through the courts, trying to force them to betray their consciences. Words, in short, are cheap. The decisive question is not what a leader says, but who and what he empowers.

Pope Francis has affirmed Church teaching on an all-male priesthood, and said he is reluctant to reform the discipline of priestly celibacy. Yet the men he has empowered at the Amazon Synod are dissenters from Catholic doctrine who intend to utterly transform the priesthood and the Church. That last sentence may sound like hyperbole. But every part of it can be demonstrated beyond question.

Over the last five years, Pope Francis has empowered Bishop Erwin Kräutler and his allies, who urge the Church to abandon its general insistence on priestly celibacy. In 2014, Kräutler discussed his ideas with the pope. In 2015, the pope asked him to make “bold, daring proposals” for the Amazon region, and two years later Francis appointed Kräutler to the committee organizing the Amazon synod. Kräutler has related how, last year, he and his allies campaigned successfully for their married-priests idea to be on the synod agenda; now it is thought to be part of the synod’s draft final document, which will be voted on tomorrow. ….