Tag Archives: Family Synod

Family Synod: For Gay Catholics, Nothing Has Changed – Everything Is Changing

The familiar phrase, “La plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” is usually interpreted as “the more things change, the more they stay the same”. For lesbian and gay Catholics in the wake of the synod, this formulation could equally be reversed: “the more things stay the same, the more they change”.

In the entire proposed final “Relatio” of the synod, only one paragraph dealt specifically with homosexual people – and narrowly failed to secure the two thirds majority support required for approval.

The pastoral care of people of homosexual orientation

55 Some families live the experience of having within them people of homosexual orientation. In this regard, we have questioned with regard to pastoral care what is appropriate to deal with this situation by referring to what the Church teaches: “There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family”  Nevertheless, men and women with homosexual tendencies must be accepted with respect and sensitivity. “In this regard there should be avoided every sign of unjust discrimination”

There are two parts to this, dealing in turn with gay marriage, and with the need for respect. Both are established principles, deeply embedded in Vatican teaching. The section on gay marriage is found in paragraph 4 of the 2003 CDF “Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons“, the words about respect and sensitivity are found in both the Catechism and the CDF 1986 “Letter to the Bishops on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons”. There’s clearly nothing new in either of these. As established teaching, the paragraph should surely have deserved unanimous support, but could not muster even two thirds. Why not? Continue reading Family Synod: For Gay Catholics, Nothing Has Changed – Everything Is Changing

Iglesia Descalza: The Catholic "Moral Disconnect"

Iglesia Descalza assessed the Univision global survey on Catholic beliefs on sexual ethics, which it describes (appropriately) as a “moral disconnect”.

Another survey (raw data spreadsheet available here), this time by Spanish language media giant Univision, shows that the moral disconnect between Catholics and their Church is not confined to the United States. Last week, Univision polled over 12,000 Catholics in 12 different countries about some of the most controversial issues facing the Church today. The countries included the United States, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, France, Spain, Italy, Poland, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, and the Philippines.

While Pope Francis received an almost universal glowing endorsement from his global flock, with 87% rating his performance as good or excellent, the magisterium of the Church he heads up received substantially less unanimous support. Catholics, especially in Europe and the Americas, simply no longer believe many of the traditional teachings of the Church on many issues of sexual morality. There is more support in Africa and in the one Asian country surveyed. Eventually, the pope will receive all the results from the Vatican’s own survey on these issues administered through the dioceses but meanwhile, here is what Univision discovered:

– full analysis at  Iglesia Descalza

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Findings of English Consultation on Marriage to Remain "Confidential"

The results of the global consultation on marriage and family from Austria, Germany and Switzerland have shown widespread Catholic disagreement with the Vatican teaching and rules on marriage and sexual matters. Formal polling in the UK indicates that results here will be very similar, but we won’t know for sure (unless there are unauthorized leaks of the information). The English bishops have reported a high level of public engagement in the process – but will not make public the content of their submission to Rome.

16,500 respond to survey on family ahead of Extraordinary Synod

The Catholic Bishops Conference of England of Wales (CBCEW) has received 16,500 responses to their survey on ‘Pastoral Challenges in the Family,’ but a spokesman for the Conference said that details of the responses will remain confidential.

“In accordance with the wishes of the Holy See, the summary of the responses sent to the Synod of Bishops is confidential,” said the spokesman.

“However, the statistical information shows a high level of engagement in the consultation process. Summary reports were received from all 22 Dioceses in England and Wales, as well as reports from the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and the Apostolic Prefecture of the Falkland Islands.”

The spokesman revealed that diocese received emails, letters and online forms from Catholics across the country, ahead of the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops which is due to take place at the Vatican in October.

The spokesman said: “Analysis of 12,266 online responses indicates that 80% of respondents were laity, 69% were married and 38% were parents. 20% of respondents were in positions of responsibility within the Church as priests, chaplains, catechists, teachers, deacons, seminarians, or pastoral assistants.

– full report at  CatholicHerald.co.uk.

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Der Spiegel: "Pope Francis' Sex Problem"

When news first broke of the global consultation on marriage and family, I predicted that because this would lay bare the huge gulf between Vatican teaching on sex, and Catholic belief and practice on the ground, the consequences would be far greater than Pope Francis and his advisors may have anticipated. As results start to come in, and assorted submissions from reputable theologians are made public, it is becoming clearer than ever that I was right.

Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna has released results for Austria showing how wide is the gap, and now we have a investigative report from Der Spiegel, on the thoughts of German Catholics.

The Pope’s Sex Problem:

Catholic Survey Shows Deep Frustration within the Church

The Vatican last year sent out a survey to Catholics around the world focusing on attitudes to sex and sexuality. The responses are now in — and they show that the Church is badly in need of reform. Can Pope Francis meet such expectations?

Adolescents find it embarrassing to talk about sex with adults. Even more so when the adult in question is their Catholic priest.

4.0.1

About 20 girls and boys are sitting on leather sofas in the basement of St. Josef Catholic Community Center on the outskirts of Berlin. The walls are brightly painted and bags of gummy bears and chocolate are on a table in the center of the room.

Hannah, Jonas and their friends giggle when Harald Tux, a friendly, balding man with glasses, reads a questionnaire from the Vatican out loud. It’s about premarital sex, and the officials in Rome want to know how these young Catholics in Berlin’s Weissensee neighborhood feel about it. “Is contraception an option for you?” the theologian asks. The youths are already whispering, and they can’t help but smile when Tux finally gets to the point: “If you used contraception, would you confess to it?”

“Huh?” a girl asks with a grimace. “It’s not a crime,” exclaims a boy in a hooded sweatshirt. They all snort with laughter.

The debate continues. “For our generation, it’s also a question of responsibility. If you don’t want to become a parent at 16 or 17, you have to use contraception,” says Hannah. The 16-year-old and her fellow adolescents cite many other issues where they believe change is needed. “Homosexuals should also be allowed to marry, so that the church can be open to everyone,” says Jonas. “The church doesn’t have the right to interfere.”

Last week, Germany’s Catholic bishops held a two-day conference in the Bavarian city of Würzburg for the purpose of compiling and analyzing the responses given by Hannah, Jonas and other Catholics from all 27 dioceses in Germany. Their conclusions are bound for Rome. The project has likely led to more churchgoers expressing their opinions than ever before in 2,000-year history of the church.

In the past, the church has turned to its bishops to assess the mood in the grassroots, but their reports often contained more pious desires and wishful thinking than facts.

A Wave of Protest

But now the people of God have spoken. Church members around the world were asked for their opinions on the most controversial issues in Catholicism. They expressed how they feel about the strict prohibitions of their faith, on issues ranging from the family to sexual morality. In the coming weeks and months, their responses to the surveys will be processed and analyzed, and in October Pope Francis and bishops from around the world will discuss the results during an extraordinary synod.

SPIEGEL has taken a closer look at the mood in all 27 German dioceses. Some divulged very little information, while many others provided extensive data. Catholic family and youth organizations that were particularly involved in the survey also contributed.

The outcome is devastating for the guardians of pure doctrine. Even the reactions of committed Catholics reflect disinterest, enmity and deep displeasure. Many can no longer relate to the old dogmas and feel left alone by the church. Even in conservative Bavaria, 86 percent of Catholics do not believe it is a sin to use the pill or condoms, both condemned by the church.

– full report at  SPIEGEL ONLINE.

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NCR: Moral Theologians, on the Need for Doctrinal Change

The Extraordinary Synod on Marriage and the Family, which will be taking place later this year, was never intended to produce doctrinal change. Many events, however, have unintended consequences. Pope Francis’ revolution in the Catholic Church has often been compared to Vatican II, but at the outset, nobody really expected the extent of the transformation it achieved. The synod will not directly produce any change in doctrine, but it is being preceded by an extensive global consultation on how the Church as a whole understands and accepts those doctrines. If anyone really doubts that the conference will not be forced at least to consider the urgent need for doctrinal change, they should pay close attention to the many reports now emerging on the responses to that consultation – and especially to the responses of the experts, the professional moral theologians. National Catholic Reporter has some commentary on responses from some German theologians:

German theologians critique church teachings, propose new sexual understanding

Two groups of noted German theologians have bluntly outlined how church teaching does not align with the concerns or lifestyles of most European Catholics in response to a Vatican questionnaire on Catholics’ attitudes on issues like contraception and same-sex marriage.

Church sexual teachings, say the representatives of the Association of German Moral Theologians and the Conference of German-speaking Pastoral Theologians, come from an “idealized reality” and need a “fundamental, new evaluation.”

“It becomes painfully obvious that the Christian moral teaching that limits sexuality to the context of marriage cannot look closely enough at the many forms of sexuality outside of marriage,” say the 17 signers of the response, who include some of Germany’s most respected Catholic academics.

The theologians also propose that the church adopt a whole new paradigm for its sexual teachings, based not on moral evaluations of individual sex acts but on the fragility of marriage and the vulnerability people experience in their sexuality.

The theologians are responding to a Vatican request last October that bishops worldwide prepare for a 2014 global meeting of Catholic prelates by distributing a questionnaire on family topics “as widely as possible to deaneries and parishes so that input from local sources can be received.”

full report at National Catholic Reporter.

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Bilgrimage: Moral Theologians, on the Need for Doctrinal Change

At Bilgrimage, Bill Lindsey reflects on the German theologians’ response to the global consultation, in preparation for the Extraordinary Synod on Marriage and the Family

German Moral and Pastoral Theologians Respond to Pope Francis’s Questions about Sexual Morality and Family: Time for Significant Change

What strikes me as I read the statement is that it depends on a distinction that Catholic moral theologians (and Catholic theologians in general) have been making for a long time now: the magisterium offers Catholics an “idealized” understanding of human sexuality that does not take into account the experience of lay Catholics to whom this idealized teaching is handed down. Magisterial teaching on sexual ethics is very conspicuously not “received” by lay Catholics–particularly, as the document points out, regarding the issue of contraception.

The gap between the idealized, acts-centered, non-experience-based sexual ethical teaching handed down by the magisterium and the experience-based understanding of human sexuality lived by lay Catholics in their lives of graced discipleship continues to grow (see: issue of same-sex marriage), and the gap is becoming insupportable.

The German theologians call for an understanding of sexual ethics that continues to enshrine the ideals to which magisterial teaching points, but corrects the idealized, acts-centered, non-experience-based teaching of the magisterium by incorporating dimensions of care (a “pallial” dimension), emancipation, and reflectivity:

-full reflection at Bilgrimage