German Catholics fault idealised Church image of family

German Catholics have criticised Vatican questions ahead of the synod on the family as proceeding from an idealised image of the family.

This was the main criticism in a summary of replies of German Catholics to the 46 questions of the second Vatican questionnaire on the family.

Germany’s Catholic bishops released the summary of responses, with commentary, last week, The Tablet reported.

The idealised family image does not adequately relate to the reality of life in German society, the criticism noted.

Many of those who replied said that idealising marriage and the family not only did not appeal to Catholics in Germany but, on the contrary, put them off sacramental church marriage.

That is why many German Catholics would like to see definite steps taken before the October synod to overcome the gulf between family life as it is really lived and Church teaching.

The questionnaire had not found an “appreciative language for relationships which neither corresponded to the Church’s ideals nor were definitely orientated towards marriage and the family”, the bishops’ report stated.

The German faithful were not satisfied with the Church’s present teaching concerning remarried divorcees, “mixed” marriages and register office marriages.

Concrete changes from the Church concerning all three are expected by the faithful, the report noted.

“A pastoral approach which only sees such relationships as sinful and calls for repentance is not helpful as it contradicts the positive experiences which such couples have”, the bishops’ report stated.

German Catholics above all want to see remarried divorcees allowed to receive the sacraments under certain conditions.

“The expectation that the synod will open new pastoral possibilities is very high indeed”, the report stated.

In a separate report, the German bishops’ conference released the results of a survey that found 54 per cent of the country’s Catholic priests go to Confession no more than once a year.

Only 58 per cent of German priests report that they pray every day.


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