Francis could actually be considering a truly major shift on remarriage and communion, in which the annulment requirement is dispensed with and (perhaps) a temporary penance is substituted.
Such a shift wouldn’t just provoke conservative grumbling; it would threaten outright schism. The church has famous martyrs to the indissolubility of Christian marriage, and its teaching on divorce and adultery is grounded not just in tradition or natural law, but in the explicit words of Jesus of Nazareth.
This means that admitting to communion people the church considers to be in permanently adulterous relationships wouldn’t just look like a modest development in doctrine. It would look like a major about-face, a doctrinal self-contradiction.
So, Ross Douche-Hat, who inexplicably has his column published not in Catholicism Today, or the Right-Wing Christian Monthly, but by the New York Freakin' Times, is criticizing the Pope. Why is it suddenly okay to criticize the Pope? Generally, don't conservative Catholics like Douche-hat believe the Pope is infallible? Or is it like Presidents? When the President is one of your guys, then the office must be respected and we must rally behind our President in times of crisis, and the President's policies must never be criticized lest we embolden terrorists. But when the President is one of the other guys, then suddenly dissent becomes once again the highest form of patriotism and by dissent we mean things like questioning his parentage, casting aspersions on his religious beliefs and inviting a man who threatened his life to the goddamm state of the union.
Is that how it works for conservative Catholics, too? When you like the Pope, he is the infallible representative of God Himself, but when you don't like him, he's just some guy who doesn't understand about Jesus! Is that how it works? I'm really trying to figure out all these rules. It must be exhausting being a right-winger, having to keep up with all these rules. No wonder they're always in such shitty moods.