Pope Francis convened a so-called "Extraordinary General Assembly" of Catholic bishops held for two weeks in 2014 and 2015. The Synod of bishops examines the church's attitudes on a variety of contentious issues: gay Catholics' involvement in the church, divorced-and-remarried Catholics receiving Communion, and unmarried couples cohabitating. 

Last week news came from the bishops' gathering that Catholic leaders were contemplating a marked departure from the church's previous position on gay Catholics. Archbishop Bruno Forte was quoted talking about the "centrality" of a Catholic person, independent of "sexual orientation."

The Rev. Emmett G. Price III responded on Boston Public Radio last week that the shift was "huge." Progressive and conservative Catholics seemed to agree with Price's statement, but differ on whether it was a positive development. On Saturday, when the bishops' meeting ended, leaders' sentiments reflected the public divide. Their "extraordinary" assembly came to no agreement on gay involvement, divorce, or cohabitation.

The Rev. Emmett G. Price III — along with the Rev. Irene Monroe — spoke again on Boston Public Radio about the whiplash between successive announcements from the bishops.

"The church has had a crisis not only of faith, but of identity and integrity," Monroe said. "I'm quite disappointed." Price echoed Monroe's disappointment. "I am still a believer in the Pope. Now, the church I'm upset with," Price said.

Monroe said expectations of Pope Francis as a revolutionary are overblown. "One of the things we think is because the Pope has a conciliatory tone that he's going to bring about policy" change, Monroe said. She thought Pope Francis and Catholics lagged behind popular opinion on things like gay marriage and divorce. "They negate the whole idea of what [the word] 'catholic' means," Monroe said, referring to the word's other definition of "all-embracing."

Boston Public Radio cohost Jim Braude speculated Pope Francis is part of a cohort of Catholic leaders nudging conservative bishops to change. He cited Vatican reporter John Allen's reporting in the Crux Now. "Pope Francis' agenda is, 'let the light shine in,' and it's going to create more pressure on these men" to change, Braude said.

"Now everything is on the table. We have a whole other year until October 15th" when the synod next convenes, Price said. He added, "There's an old saying: the 'they' today may not be the 'they tomorrow.'"

Monroe was less optimistic. "I'm trying to keep hope alive," she said. "Thank you, thank you," Price responded.

>> To hear the entire conversation with Price and Monroe — including discussion about the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri — click the audio link above.