Some 16,500 responses have been received by the Bishops’ Conference of England of Wales to a Vatican survey of Catholics’ views on same-sex marriage, contraception and communion for divorced and remarried couples.
But their contents will not be revealed, unlike in Germany,
where the responses showed a huge gap between church teaching and what
Catholics believe and practise.
A spokesman said the bishops would not reveal the results of the
consultation prior to next October’s extraordinary synod on the theme of
marriage and the family.
He revealed that of the 16,500 completed questionnaires, 12,266
responses were completed online and of these, a majority were from laity
of whom 69 per cent were married and 38 per cent were parents.
Twenty per cent of respondents were in positions of responsibility
within the Church as priests, chaplains, catechists, teachers, deacons,
seminarians, or pastoral assistants, the spokesman said.
across the age ranges was fairly even, though weighted towards the older
generation,” he added.
But what the respondents wrote will be sent confidentially to the
Vatican in “accordance with the wishes of the Holy See,” the spokesman
The English and Welsh bishops led the way by being the first
to make the questionnaire available online.
It is understood, however, that Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, the
Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops appointed last year by Pope
Francis, later requested that the results of the survey were not made
However, the German bishops this week released the survey’s findings,
which showed that respondents in Germany want a radically new approach
to family and on sexual morality on the part of the Church.
The Church’s teaching on such issues is seen as a “morality of
prohibition pure and simple”, the bishops say.
It is not accepted,
because a “fundamental change and pluralisation of the definition of the
family, as well as the privatisation of sexual morality and of human
relationships as a whole” has taken place.
The responses to the questions showed that cohabitation before
marriage and contraception are almost universally accepted. As they are
not considered “sinful”, they are therefore not usually considered
something to be confessed.
Baptised Catholics do not consider remarriage after divorce
irregular. Most Catholics, including those who live in stable marriages,
are “unable to understand” why the Church does not allow remarried
divorcees to receive the Sacraments.
As remarried divorcees do not
consider their former marriages “null and void”, moreover, they consider
Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich, who is also a member of the Council
of Cardinals (C8said the Church must ask itself whether its message of
liberation was being appropriately communicated.
But Cardinal Karl Lehmann of Mainz on Tuesday said the responses to
the Vatican questionnaire had “opened up a chance that we must take up
at all levels. The responses oblige us to do so to a high degree”.