Patrick Archbold, "What to expect when you are expecting (synodal disaster)" (Creative Minority Report, September 15, 2014):
... what I expect is that the Synod, by design, will be quite anti-climactic, if for no other reason that to disarm the myriad critics of Kasper both in and out of the Bishops conference.[Hat tip to JM]
See, Cardinal Kasper's speech was a full frontal assault on the teaching of marriage and as a result there was considerable public push back by many Cardinals and others. This is not how things are done. I actually believe that his speech was a strategic assault to test defenses. When introducing doctrine undermining change into the Church, the last thing you want is to be clear that is what you are doing. That is why I don't expect the synod itself to be a disaster. Rather, I expect it to be like that nice crisp autumn night, the perfect sleeping weather, something so comfortable you fall asleep, even though it is a clear sign that winter is approaching.
It is for this reason I believe that they have broken the synod into two parts, part this year and part next. They want anti-climactic.
So what do I expect?
Rather than a direct assault on marriage, I expect the opposite. What I expect is a nice flowery document re-stating the Catholic doctrine on the indissolubility of marriage. It will include language about the pastoral care of souls in troubled situations, but it will be generally orthodox. But at some point, whether this year or next, or in a post synodal document by the Pope, they will recommend the Bishops conferences to study and implement pastoral guidelines to help those in this situation.
No mandate, no direct assertions on what to do, but just a call for Bishop conferences to study the problem and implement pastoral practices in line with the synodal documents. That is when the horse will be permanently out of the barn.
Then certain conferences will run wild either directly allowing it or allowing the pastor to decide. You know they will. (See German Episcopal conference)
The traditionally minded will scream bloody murder while the "everything is awesome" Catholics will only refer to the document of the synod as the mostest wonderfulist re-statement of Catholic teaching ever, ignoring what his happening on the ground.
In the meantime, the Vatican will move at a glacial pace to correct any abuses. After a few years, it will issue some weak document asking the Bishops not to abuse things. This document will be completely ignored in praxis and will only serve the purpose of throwing it in traditionalist faces when they complain about the obvious. You know the drill.
After a few more years, the obvious abuse will be so commonplace, that people will think you a sedevacantist for even bringing it up.
This is how it is done. This is how you introduce radical novelty into the Church without provoking schism.
So don't expect a synodal disaster or schism. Expect the synod to be that nice calm cool night that lulls you to sleep even as winter furiously approaches.