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The Gospel of Love, Marriage, and Family

The Synod on the Family will be meeting in October, 2015, in Rome.


In anticipation, Cardinal Kasper and others have raised the possibility of moving the Catholic Church toward a more “pastoral” and “merciful” approach to marriage and the family, suggesting changes of practices in the Church.

       We have developed this survey to better understand synodal issues in light of the Gospel and Church teaching and to prepare people to speak intelligently about them to others. 

       This survey is not about getting the gut reaction of people, revealing their underlying attitudes (often formed by the media or by others with strong opinions), but to help people to go deeper into the issues debated.

Initial Results

4 days after the pilot rollout, 45 have taken the survey, of which 21 priests finished the whole survey.

       The last question was the most surprising. All priests (75 percent of laity) said they do not wish the Catholic Church to change its practice and begin allowing divorced and remarried couples (who lack a declaration of nullity but believed they are truly married) to receive Holy Communion without a commitment to celibate chastity, especially IF IT WOULD MEAN that other people in irregular situations could do so, such as
• Unmarried couples living together, who truly love each other;
• Porn addicts, who are sincerely convinced that they cannot resist it and that doing porn helps them from committing worse sexual sins;
• Sexually active gay and lesbian couples, who believe that God made them that way and that they are truly married;
• Politicians, who promote abortion, same-sex “marriage,” gay adoption, and other practices contrary to God’s law, and if they sincerely believe they are doing what is best for society and their political career. 

The surprising part was not that the largest number of priests thought that changing the Church's practice would show that Holy Communion is not truly sacred (40%), but that 30 percent thought that using Holy Communion as a "carrot" reward or incentive for the sinless would detract even more from the sacredness of Holy Communion, the Sacrament of Love. Of the "others" (30%), sacredness of the Eucharist was emphasized

I would compare this to marital intimacy. Just as it would be an abuse for an unfaithful spouse that insisted on intimacy with her/his spouse, so it would be for the faithful spouse to insist that her/his spouse do everything s/he wanted perfectly before allowing intimacy. Marital intimacy should remain sacred, not treated as a "carrot," reward, or punishment.

Other comments suggest that the Church needs to reemphasize the sacredness of the Eucharist in its evangelization and catechesis, not focus on accommodations. As one priest commented to question 13: "Publicly, I think we should tell the party line. Pastorally, we deal with each case and an individual basis." Only 14 priests of priest think we should allow divorced (without annulment) and remarried to receive Holy Communion if it would mean same for others who don't make a firm purpose to amend their lives.

Receiving Holy Communion expresses a communion of belief in Christ's real presence (95%), in all his teachings transmitted by the Catholic Church (70%), and in the practice the moral teachings (70%). One priest commented: "none of us are worthy to receive communion but if we have an open heart and if we are not in a state of mortal sin that we are always welcome to God's table."

MORE TO COME…
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