Answer: There is no clear objective answer; so much depends on one’s ideological or ecclesial perspective.
First of all, let’s discuss what a synod is. Synod is a general word for an ecclesial gathering, and can range in size from a few local priests to as many bishops from around the world as can fit in St. Peter’s. Synod and council, according to the old Catholic Encyclopedia, are synonymous terms. Only when the bishops of the world are gathered under the presidency of the pope is it deemed an ecumenical or general council capable of legislating for the entire Church.
If we leave our description here, it would seem that this Synod is simply a “talk shop”, a manufactured event in which the participants can discuss change without actually changing anything ... much like a session of Congress. It’s not quite that simple or cynical an exercise.
We in the West — especially in America — tend to assume that our concerns are shared by the whole world, or at least that they ought to be, and that the only people who matter are the people who think just like we do. This isn’t the case; what may sound like a splendid idea among American or German Catholics may not fly with Catholics in Estonia, or Burkina Faso, or South Korea.
For as much as has been made of Francis being the first pope from a Third World country, culturally he is in many respects as much a European as were his predecessors. Cardinal Walter Kasper, who has been carrying the standard for divorced and remarried Catholics, is a German of the Germans. The synod allows the pope and Cdl. Kasper to float trial balloons in an arena where the response is more international, and isn’t shaped by the Western media.