Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Synod of Bishops: Europe overwhelmingly in favour of remarried divorcees

The Church reflects on the issue of remarried divorceesThe Church needs to be “more open” and be able to welcome everyone, “regardless of differences and mistakes made.” 

This is the snapshot the Religious Information Service (SIR) gives of the first results of the survey on the family pastoral care programme (and the embracing of remarried divorcees) presented by Pope Francis ahead of the Synod of Bishops.

 “Belgian Catholics expect the Church to welcome everyone, regardless of differences or mistakes made. This especially true when it comes to gay people and remarried divorcees,” SIR says.

 “Belgian Catholics, inspired by Francis, are calling for a mother Church that embraces all: hence the need to grow in the faith and form lively communities,” SIR highlights. The questionnaires also placed an emphasis on the essential role women can play in Church life: “It is they who pass on the faith to children and guide them,” Belgian Catholics point out.

The Catholic Church in Luxembourg has also published its own analysis of the results of the questionnaires on the family online. The Synod of Bishops decided to send out said questionnaires in preparation for next October’s meeting. 

“The vast majority of responses came from people who feel they have ties with the Church and identify with it,” a note issued by the local Church reads, condemning “a growing divide between the magisterial proclamation of  the Church, the way this doctrine is received by the members of the Church and the effect it has on them.” 

The responses gathered in Luxembourg confirm the respect the Church has for the family but they also highlight that the importance in Church teaching has gone into “free fall” compared to the value given to individual conscience and freedom.

 According to Luxembourg’s Catholics, the Church does not offer a suitable solution to problematic family situations. “The doctrine on marriage, responsible fatherhood and the family is rejected in non-ecclesial circles (sometimes even in ecclesial ones),” because the Church is seen as a stranger and as not competent in these areas. In their answers Luxembourg’s Catholics refer to “the suffering caused by the exclusion from the sacraments, particularly in terms of reconciliation.” The rule the Church has regarding access to the sacraments appears inadequate.  They urge the Church “to put the pastoral mission of mercy into practice and create environments where it can be introduced and experienced.” But Luxembourg didn’t express any precise position or offer any concrete indications as to the issue of gay couples. There was simply an appeal to the Church to “accept reality as it is and not try to change it with moral models” and to be welcoming and merciful.

The Religious Information Service also highlights the difference in viewpoint between the German Church and its faithful on issues such as couples living together before marriage, birth control and contraception. The exclusion of remarried divorcees from the sacraments is seen as unjustified and cruel discrimination. German Catholics also ask for same-sex unions to be legally recognised and seen on equal terms as marriage “as a commandment of justice”.

The number one request Swiss faithful made was for remarried divorcees to be granted the right to receive communion. Although Swiss Catholics fully agree on the importance of sacramental marriage and the Christian education of children, they say it is “difficult to accept the Church’s doctrine on the family, marriage and homosexuality.” “An approximately 60% majority is in favour of the Church recognizing and blessing gay couples.” There is also “strongly disagreement over with the [Church’s] rejection of artificial contraception methods.”

Meanwhile, the Pope has nominated Mgr. Fabio Fabene as Under-Secretary of the Synod of Bishops. He had previously been an official in charge of the Congregation for Bishops.

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