Catholics at odds with some Church teaching

As Pope Francis reaches out to Catholics across the globe to re-energise the Catholic faith, the vast majority of Catholics, world-wide, disagree with Church teaching about contraception, divorce and abortion, but agree with traditional marriage.

These are some of the findings of a world-wide poll commissioned in 12 countries, the United States, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, France, Spain, Italy, Poland, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Philippines, by the US Spanish-language network, Univision.

The poll also shows that Catholics in developing countries are more likely to support the Church’s position on matters, than their European and American counterparts.

Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific did not feature in the results.

New Zealand and the South Pacific countries suffering the additional indignity of even being left of Univision’s world map.

What is distinctive today, is not that there are disagreements but that they centre on similar topics, Catholic theologian Lawrence Cunningham told the Washington Post.

“Even if you look in the North American church of my youth, Polish Catholics and Irish Catholics and Italian Catholics weren’t focused on the same issues. They had their own views on family,” Cunningham said.

“I don’t think [today] it’s an issue of disagreement. It’s more: ‘Whoa, we’re finding a lot of people from across the Catholic world talking about the same kinds of issues and we better face up to them.’ ”

Among its findings the poll discovered:

  • 78% of Catholics across all countries surveyed support the use of contraceptives
  • More than 90 percent of Catholics in Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Spain and France support the use of contraception. Those less inclined to support it were in the Philippines (68 percent), Congo (44 percent) and Uganda (43 percent). In the United States, 79 percent of Catholics support using contraception.
  • 19% of Catholics in the European countries and 30% in the Latin American countries surveyed agree with church teaching that divorcees who remarry outside the church should not receive Communion, compared with 75% in the most Catholic African countries
  • Catholics are split over the question of whether women and married me should be allowed to be priests, 30% of Catholics in the European countries and 36% in the United States agree with the church ban on female priests, compared with 80% in Africa and 76% in the Philippines, the country with the largest Catholic population in Asia
  • 40% of Catholics in the United States oppose gay marriage, compared with 99% in Africa
  • 65% thought abortion should be allowed, 8% in all cases and 57% some of the time, such as when the mother’s life is in danger.
  • 66% of Catholics opposed same-sex marriage and majorities in 8 of the 12 countries agreeing with the Church teaching
  • 87% think Pope Francis is doing a good job

To prepare for an Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October this year, Pope Francis is currently looking for feedback from Catholics around the whole world.

Last week, as reported in CathNews, initial findings to the Vatican survey from Germany and Switzerland found Catholics labelled the Church’s teaching on sexual morality as “heartless” and the German bishops calling the results “sobering”.

Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston, who serves on the eight-member Council of Cardinals that is advising Pope Francis on curial reform, told The Boston Globe he does not think Pope Francis will change Catholic teaching on controversial matters.

“I don’t see the Pope as changing doctrine,” he said.

“The Church needs to be faithful to the Gospel and to Christ’s teaching.”

Cardinal O’Malley says Pope Francis is softening the tone of Church teaching, but not the substance of it. O’Malley believes Francis’ stress on mercy and simplicity is having a huge effect.


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News category: World.

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