The central plank if the ecclesiastical Liberal Agenda is not, as some have supposed, gay marriage or sexual fluidity, but women’s ordination. Let me explain.
The Catholic Church is both historical and hierarchical – historical because it necessarily refers back to the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth, hierarchical because its very structure claims to be based on his teaching and example. Christ inaugurated sacraments – an extension into time of his incarnation at an historical moment – to be administered by bishops in continuity with the Apostles he chose. They were to be headed by the contemporary representative of Peter (on the same seat and with the same authority).
WO ultimately rides a cart and horses through these claims and this constitution. In the name of sexual equality, the choice of male apostles is said to be arbitrary or misguided. And its continuation into present time to be the result of a misogynist conspiracy. This is an attack on Catholic ecclesiology root and branch.
Which is why, of course, WO is to dear to entrenched Liberals.
Expect, then, efforts to be made, before the end of this pontificate, to secure the ordination of women to the diaconate at least. Francis will claim to be opposed in principle to such a development, that is the approved technique. But hard cases, in modern thinking, make good laws. Scope will be found in far-flung areas of acute pastoral need to initiate a diakonia of women not equivalent to that of men and so not to be construed as part of Holy Orders.
From there it will be a short step (as experience in the Church of England has shown) across the Styx. The same salami technique will almost certainly be deployed in the case of clerical celibacy. But that, it will readily be seen, is neither so revolutionary nor so destructive.