The German and Swiss bishops have produced reports on the Vatican questionnaire published in preparation for October’s extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family. It will be interesting for us to discuss the findings. I put them in note form below. A further study has been produced more recently; it basically confirms the German and Swiss views.
The Synod looks likely, under the influence of Pope Francis, to be rather different from its earlier occasions – which have been held under tight Curial control. It is likely to test to what extent the beliefs of the laity will be allowed to influence the Magisterium.
1 Most of the baptized have an image of the Church that, on the one hand, is family friendly in its attitude, whilst on the other considering her sexual morality to be unrealistic.
2 Catholics value the vision of marriage as a lifelong union open to having children.
3 Pre-marital unions are almost universal. Many claim it to be irresponsible to marry without living with each other first.
4 The issue of divorced Catholics remarrying outside the Church is a live one. An archdiocesan initiative allowing the matter to be resolved through conscience, after discussion with a priest, is generally approved.
5 Formal nullity is not a solution because many do not see their first marriages as null; they see them as failed.
6 The vast majority reject or ignore the outright prohibition of artificial contraception.
7 Attitudes towards the acceptance and blessing of homosexual couples are polarised, but 60 per cent accept this.
8 They largely regard “the legal recognition of same-sex civil partnerships and their equal treatment vis-a-vis marriage as a commandment of justice.”
So what do you make of all that? And do you think that these views are generally shared in this and other countries?
You may read a brief, but fuller, account on http://ncronline.org/news/global/surveys-german-swiss-catholics-reject-many-church-teachings-family.
A second poll covering Catholics in 12 countries is now reported in several newspapers. While the views expressed are of the same order, it is reported that 65% said that abortion should be allowed – 8% said for all cases; 57% said for special cases, e.g. mother’s life at risk. See, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/vaticancityandholysee/10627312/Catholics-divided-on-issues-such-as-divorce-and-birth-control.html
However a recent, scientifically produced, survey showed that in this country 23% of Catholics believed that all abortions should be banned; this percentage rose to 42% of weekly-attending Catholics. It would seem that over half of active Catholics accept that abortion should be allowed under certain circumstances.
It appears that there is a substantial rejection of the Church’s moral authority in such matters. How did this come about? Will this rift continue and perhaps widen? Will this spread to matters of faith as well as morals? Has the Catholic Church joined the Reformation Churches in accepting that response to teaching authority is <em>de facto</em>voluntary?