Bishops’ decision not to publish Vatican survey findings criticised

A British bishop has criticised a decision by his confreres not to publish the findings of a Vatican survey about the family.

Bishop Tom Burns of Menevia said the UK bishops should publish the findings of the survey.

It asked questions on cohabitation, contraception and same-sex marriage.

This is in the interests of transparency, he said.

In an article for The Tablet, Bishop Burns notes “the height and depth and width of the intense pleas made by God’s people for urgent attention to their pastoral needs”.

“Publish and be delighted!” wrote Bishop Burns in defiance of the England and Wales bishops’ conference’s insistence that it would not be publishing the survey results, at the request of the Vatican.

He said they should follow the lead of the bishops in Germany and Switzerland who have published the survey’s findings.

In total, 16,500 responded to the survey in England and Wales, including many lapsed Catholics.

Eighty percent of those who filled out questions about Communion for the divorced and remarried, same-sex marriage, and contraception were laypeople and 69 percent were married.

An editorial in the The Tablet argued: “The failure to inform English and Welsh Catholics how their views have been summarised comes close to a breach of faith.”

One lay Catholic wrote to Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster to ask: “Can you explain why we are not being given access to the results which is, in fact, our data?”

In the United States, a Pew Research study found a majority of American Catholics favour changes to Church teaching, but few expect this to happen.


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