Family – Bishops must listen to lay people with deep empathy

Sharron Cole, president of Parents Centres New Zealand,  says Synod bishops lacked understanding in a host of areas affecting Catholic people’s lives.

Cole was a New Zealand observer at the 2015 Synod on Families.

She is calling on the church to listen “with deep empathy” to lay people and to “re-examine its teaching on marriage and sexuality, and its understanding of responsible parenthood, in a dialogue of laity and bishops together.”

Cole said that while the church’s teaching on conjugal love and responsible parenthood in “Humanae Vitae” has “great beauty and depth,” couples who struggle with either low-income, mental health problems or other difficulties find it hard to abide by those tenets.

“As an ex-board member of Natural Family Planning, I know that this method of contraception permitted by ‘Humanae Vitae’ is an effective method for motivated couples,” she said.

“Every family has difficulties which might lead them for a period of time to use artificial contraception in the interests of responsible parenting.”

“Marriage naturally leads to a desire for children, which is a biological imperative and a great grace of the sacrament.”

“In my experience, very few couples suppress this desire, with its constraints tending to be the couple’s resources to cope, not selfishness,” she said.

Laypeople are not trusted to make good decisions in conscience, and they often feel subjected to exacting rules which take no account of context or of stages of spiritual development,” she said.

She also said that “too many in authority responded to clergy sexual abuse in a way which demonstrated that they lacked the expertise in sexuality and psychology to make good decisions, with the result they became complicit in perpetuating enormous harm, harm done to laypeople.”

“There are 270 bishops and cardinals participating in the synod and voting on its outcome,” writes Rosie Scammell in Crux.

“A number of other participants, including lay couples and representatives from other churches, have been invited to give their opinions, but will not be able to make decisions on the final text.”

“That includes more than two dozen women who have been called to present their views.”

“The rows of seats in the synod hall, where Catholic bishops are meeting to discuss family issues, are filled with bishops and cardinals — all male. To find any women, look to the back of the room,” she says.

“The women’s distance from the heart of the synod hall reflects fears raised by women’s groups that their participation is a mere token on the Vatican’s part.”


Additional reading

News category: New Zealand.

Tags: , , , ,