It has often struck me that Catholic doctrine and American constitutional adjudication have a good deal in common. The hermeneutic - interpretation of the Gospels - is based on texts that contain both broad statements of equitable principles "love your neighbor, what you do for these the least of my brethren you do for me", parables, and a few commands.
Catholic doctrine is rooted in the text, the teachings of the Church and the experience of the faithful. Biblical command plays little role. Understandings change - and doctrine evolves by paying attention to the experience of the faithful.
So too has our constitution evolved. Equal protection in the original conception did not include women, and gays were not in anyone's mind. Now we consider the extension of such principles to women and gays to be pretty much undisputable.
The danger is that when there is a final authority - Pope or Supreme Court - the understanding can be frozen or reversed, the views of the people discarded. Popular opinion is not a command in law or theology but the impact of doctrine should never be ignored. It informs even where it does not command. - gwc
Synod members should include sensus fidei | National Catholic Reporter