Families questionnaire reveals sense of exclusion and hurt

A strong sense of exclusion and hurt is felt by many people who are living in situations not in accord with Church teaching in areas such as divorce and re-marriage, cohabitation, contraception and same sex unions.

This information is contained in a Pastoral Letter from the  New Zealand Catholic Bishops summarising the main themes that emerged in the responses received in the questionnaire on families they sent out in October last year.

Other themes to emerge were:

  • The Church’s definition of family implicit in the questions lacks understanding of the diverse nature of modern families.
  • Sexual abuse by clergy has undermined people’s faith in priests and bishops as teachers in matters of sexual morality. Many questioned the right of celibate men to “prescribe” what is right or wrong for married couples.

The Bishops say that in both online and other submissions, gratitude and appreciation were expressed for the opportunity to contribute.

The say a number of people were courageous in sharing personal stories “which were difficult and painful, or the difficulties they have with various aspects of the Church’s teaching.”

Others expressed their support for the teaching and wrote about how they tried to be faithful to it in their families.

“We were deeply impressed by the way in which people are striving to live according to the gospel, whatever the circumstances of their lives,” they say.

The questionnaire was part of the preparation for the III Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

The Bishops have sent these findings to the Holy See, and are anxious to know if what people across the world are saying is truly being heard by those who will organise the Synod Assembly.

Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri is the Secretary-General of the Synod of Bishops, and it is his office which is responsible for analysing the submissions on the Preparatory Document.

He said in an interview that the responses show “much suffering, especially by those who feel excluded or abandoned by the Church because they find themselves in a state of life that does not correspond to the Church’s doctrine and discipline”.

The Synod of Bishops will take place in Rome in early October. Archbishop John Dew in his capacity as President of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference will be attending.

Read the Pastoral Letter



Additional reading

News category: New Zealand, Top Story.

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