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Most Modern Catholics Reject Church Teachings On Marriage, Sex And Contraception, Vatican Admits

The Vatican conceded Thursday most Roman Catholics reject its teachings on sex and contraception as intrusive and irrelevant, and officials pledged not to “close our eyes to anything” when it opens a two-year debate in October on some of the thorniest issues.

Core church doctrine on the nature of marriage, sexuality, abortion and divorce is not expected to change. But Pope Francis is well aware the church has lost much of its relevance and credibility in today’s secular world and is seeking to redirect priests to offer families, and even gays in civil unions, a “new language” that is welcoming and responsive to their needs.

Already, the working document for the synod discussions marks a sharp change from past practice. It is the result of a 39-point questionnaire that asked Catholics around the world about their understanding of, and adherence to, the church’s teaching on sexuality, homosexuality, contraception, marriage and divorce.

Thousands of ordinary people, clergy and academics responded. Usually, such working papers are compiled by bishops alone.

“A vast majority [stressed] the moral evaluation of the different methods of birth control is commonly perceived today as an intrusion in the intimate life of the couple and an encroachment on the autonomy of conscience,” the document said.

“Many responses recommend that for many Catholics the concept of ‘responsible parenthood’ encompasses the shared responsibility in conscience to choose the most appropriate method of birth control.”

Asked if the church might change its position to align itself with the practice of most of its faithful, Monsignor Bruno Forte, a meeting organizer, said, “We will not close our eyes to anything. These problems will be considered.”

Nonetheless, the document makes clear the value of the church’s core doctrine.

It laments the media and its own priests have failed to communicate the “positive” aspects of the Vatican’s key document banning artificial contraception, the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae. Better pastoral outreach is needed, along with a “new language” to communicate the complete vision of marriage and family life the church espouses.

“Some observations inferred that the clergy sometimes feel so unsuited and ill-prepared to treat issues regarding sexuality, fertility and procreation that they often choose to remain silent,” the document said.

The officials presenting the report were asked what advice about sexuality, matrimony and raising children a group of celibate men could offer when they had chosen not to have sex, marry or have families.

Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, the synod’s organizer, said many lay Catholics were consulted in preparing the working document. There was also “ample representation” of the laity at Thursday’s press conference: a married couple celebrating their 25th anniversary joined the six clerics on the podium.

The document itself, though, acknowledged the church had a credibility problem.

“Responses from almost every part of the world frequently refer to the sexual scandals within the church [pedophilia in particular] and in general, to a negative experience with the clergy and other persons,” it said.

The document does not recommend changing church teaching on hot-button issues like its opposition to gay marriage.

But citing Francis’ frequent call for the church to be more merciful and less judgmental, it recommends new pastoral guidelines to confront the increasing legal recognition for same-sex unions.

“The episcopal conferences amply demonstrate that they are trying to find a balance between the church’s teaching on the family and a respectful, non-judgmental attitude toward people living in such unions,” it said. It distinguished between gays who are “discreet” in their lifestyle and those who actively, “often aggressively” call attention to their unions.

The document also suggests ways to improve the cumbersome and expensive annulment process to enable Catholics who divorce and remarry to receive the sacraments. Currently, they are barred from receiving communion because the church deems they are living in sin and committing adultery.


© 2019 Asian Mirror (pvt) Ltd