The writer seems to come down in support of the second option -
But what Francis is trying to do is wilfully devalue the coinage of papal utterances. He is doing something similar with the synod of bishops. Previously every synod was as carefully orchestrated as an old-style Soviet congress. But Francis has told bishops that debate is not dissent and unleashed a tsunami of heated argument over totemic issues like contraception, divorce and same-sex relationships. It is all part of dismantling the old imperial papacy and opening the church to a style of governance that is more participative and, though it is not a word Francis would use, democratic. He knows he will need a few more years to entrench that idea into the Catholic hierarchy.I don't know if Paul Vallely is someone who has a handle on these things or not.
Francis is certainly high-handed enough, even dictatorial when he wants to be, (and there are times when this is appropriate,) so I am not buying into the trope of the Pope who wants everyone else to reach whatever consensus the will, "democratically" as Vallely puts it.
And his reiteration and reinforcement of Paul VI's prophetic encyclical on the sanctity and dignity of human life is a reminder that in some cases, majority opinion be damned, when the Pope speaks, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, causa finita.
We shall see.