For centuries the Catholic Church has presented a strong, unified face to the world. Its clear doctrine has given the impression of a monolithic institution confident and clear about what it believes and how it should operate. As a child I was taught the Church was one. This was reflected in its liturgy, which at that time was in latin and therefore the same all over the world. Unity meant uniformity. I couldn't imagine bishops disagreeing with oneanother or with the Pope. Now of course I realise that disagreements are part of life, that decisions about Church teaching were only arrived at after much debate, politicking even, and that the decision often favoured the voice of the powerful. There was always a minority opinion and voice that got lost in history. I wish the Catholic Church had something like the Talmud which sets out clearly a variety of opinions on a text. It wasn't always the case that the conservative voice won of course and reading the history of the Second Vatican Council shows how new interpretations and fresh understandings can win through.
So why should disagreement at the Synod weaken the Church or leave it weaker? Does it not just show that the Church is human, subject to normal discourse; that the way forward is through debate and exchange of opinions; that it's on a journey; that conclusions are not final but need constant discernment? It seems healthy to me to be aware of these disagreements and not take answers or reports as the last word.
All this reminded me again of the Gifford Lectures. The last one was called 'A Fractal Theory of Religous Diversity' This was based on a mathematical concept that in some instances a whole is reflected in its parts. For example a cauliflower's individual florets are a replica of the whole cauliflower. Prof. Shmidt-Leukel's theory was that internally individual religions reflect the diversity between religions. He related this to the various attempts to classify religions into, for example, prophetic, mystical, sapiental as Hans Kung has suggested. While some religions may display one of these characteristics more than the others, they are in fact present within all religions. All religions are diverse and that might even be their strength. It's because of this that people sometimes feel closer to someone in another religion or denomination than they do to someone in their own. It seems to me that this can also be the case with the variety of opinions to be found within religions - some people will be conservative, others more liberal, some fundamental, some radical. The secret is to acknowledge these, not expect or even want everyone to think the same but to be ready to enter into dialogue with them in a search for truth.
So I'm not so sure that Humpty Dumpty is even broken, never mind needing to be put together again. I suspect a touch of realism about what happened at the Synod will be good for the Catholic Church and help Catholics develop a more adult relationship with it. All this will surely strengthen the Church.