Sunday, November 17, 2013

Vatican Questionnaire Addresses Divorce, Contraception, Same-sex Unions

Francis, the Bishop of Rome, greets a family
Catholic doctrine is that the truth is derived from the Gospel, the teaching of the Church, and the experience of the faithful.  In the past forty five years the Church has been challenged by the gap between the experience of the faithful regarding marriage (contraception is widely used), abortion (legalization widely accepted by Catholics), and same-sex marriage (vigorously opposed by the hierarchy but widely accepted by the laity).
But now the Vatican, infused by a new spirit of renewal and evangelization by Pope Francis, has called for a new world-wide synod - a gathering of bishops - to discuss challenges to the family.  In preparation the Vatican has issued a survey which asks bishops to report on these issues.
Joshua McElwee reports in National Catholic Reporter that issues addressed include:
  • How the church's teaching on "the value of the family" is understood today. "In those cases where the Church's teaching is known, is it accepted fully or are there difficulties in putting it into practice?" the document asks. "If so, what are they?"
  • Whether cohabitation, the problem of divorce and remarriage, and same-sex marriages are a "pastoral reality" in their church. "Does a ministry exist to attend to these cases?" the document asks. "How is God's mercy proclaimed to separated couples and those divorced and remarried and how does the Church put into practice her support for them in their journey of faith?"
  • How persons in same-sex marriages are treated and how children they may adopt are cared for. "What pastoral attention can be given to people who have chosen to live these types of union?" it asks. "In the case of unions of persons of the same sex who have adopted children, what can be done pastorally in light of transmitting the faith?"
  • Whether married couples have "openness" to becoming parents and whether they acceptHumanae Vitae, an encyclical written by Pope Paul VI that prohibited artificial contraception use by Catholics. "Is this moral teaching accepted?" it asks. "What aspects pose the most difficulties in a large majority of couple's accepting this teaching?"

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