The Irish referendum result has placed an elephant in the forthcoming Synod. It may be that the Church's betrayal of the laity which makes it more likely that the two words that greet a priest will be 'Dirrty fecker' and not 'Hello Father', that this betrayal invited what many correspondents see as a kicking, or that the Church has lost the moral leadership of Ireland, or that Irish humanism triumphed over myth and superstition. Take your pick.
The Catholic church will continue to oppose gay marriage, abortion, divorce, IVF and promiscuity in exactly the same way it opposes theft, murder, idolatry and adultery - on doctrinal grounds, that such things are moral absolutes. There is no room for moral relativism in doctrine. At the same time, people generally want to cast the church in the role of leaders in social justice - and of a variety of social justice that holds that love trumps all. People want a church that defends what they do, whether 'right' or 'wrong'. The challenge that faces Synod this October is that this is unknown territory for the Catholic church - a rigidly hierarchical organisation that has never accommodated direct democracy.
The Catholic church and the Labour party will both be contemplating their futures this weekend in an age in which rule by centralist diktat, of command and control, has lost legitimacy amongst people who reserve their right to make their own minds up on individual issues. Neither can flourish in an era of direct democracy. Let's see which one cracks first.