As another indication of the severity of the post-conciliar crisis, the tragic saga of the Vatican's survey on the family continues to ripple throughout the world—now with public calls for a reduction of Church morals.
In connection with our recent Pastor's Corner, Survey confirms Catholics' rejection of morals, we offer two pieces from DICI, an introductory editorial from Fr. Lorans, and a news-commentary about the disturbing results of the Vatican's survey on the family.
The new lists of grievances
A strange questionnaire on the family, to which anyone can answer freely whatever he wants, whatever he feels, perhaps what he believes… concerning the indissolubility of marriage, contraception, homosexuality… The answers to these questionnaires are supposed to help the cardinals understand better the “pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization,” at the Synod that is to be held next October.
For the last several weeks, these answers have been diffused in the press and online by certain bishops’ conferences that wish to show the world, but especially Rome, that the Catholic doctrine and the practice of Catholics are not on the same page. It is already being suggested that in order to reduce this difference, we need only reduce moral demands…
If we continue thus, the answers to this worldwide survey will soon be presented as the lists of grievances that the laymen place in the hands of their representatives, the cardinals, for a Synod seen as the States-General of “the family in the context of evangelization.” Then shall we be able to repeat with Cardinal Suenens, speaking of Vatican: “It's 1789 in the Church!”
Fr. Alain Lorans
(Source DICI, 2-28-2014)
Results of the consultation on the family published or not…
Despite the media pressures, almost 80% of the bishops’ conferences worldwide have not published the results of their consultation concerning the family with a view to the Extraordinary Synod on the family that will be held in Rome next October (see DICI no. 284, 11-8-2013). According to Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, they preferred to respond by means of a report addressed directly to the Synod, in keeping with the recommendations of the Holy See. In an interview published on February 19 in the daily newspaper of the Transalpine bishops, Avvenire, the prelate regretted that all the documents had “not been reserved entirely to the Vatican alone, as was initially anticipated.”
Among those who did not follow the Vatican’s instructions, besides Germany, Austria and Switzerland (see DICI no. 290, 2-14-2014), we find Japan. Some parts of its report were published online at the daily French news website La Croix on February 20. Thus we can read that, concerning the Church’s teaching on the family, “the responses overall reveal that it is not known, and they call into question a ‘Eurocentric’ viewpoint.” The Japanese report also indicates that:
often when Church leaders cannot present convincingly the reasons for their statements, they invoke the "natural law" and demand obedience. This has led to a universal discrediting of the concept of natural law: 'If it is natural, why do the people have to be taught?'”
It adds further on:
The Japanese culture puts the emphasis on societal expectations more than on abstract principles to guide action. And so, although in the West the "natural law" may seem 'natural', in Japan it is perceived as abstract and out of reach."
The conclusions also explain that “Japanese Catholics, who make up less than 1% of the population, often marry non-Christians, which affects their religious practice and the transmission of the Faith.” Concerning homosexuality, according to the Japanese bishops:
homosexual relations are not yet an issue, as in some Western countries, but they are about to become one, because Japanese society as a whole is increasingly tolerant of homosexuality, both as an orientation and as a lifestyle…. This tolerance is increasingly found among Catholics as well."
In France, the Episcopal Conference (CEF) likewise decided to publish on its website on February 20 a summary of the responses of the faithful, without however providing statistical data. This document, signed by Bishop Pierre-Marie Carre, Vice-President of the CEF, underscores “the importance of the role and mission of the family”, while explaining that “there is a gap between Church teaching and the choices made by couples who identify themselves as Catholics.” Concerning marriage preparation, the bishops note that those who request marriage have a vague knowledge of what it is. As for the divorced and remarried, Bishop Pierre-Marie Carre writes that:
many of the responses demand that the Church’s practice should conform to that of the Orthodox Churches, for example: once there has been a time of repentance and the stability of the new union seems to be clearly established, a celebration can recognize it, without however calling into question the indissolubility of marriage (sic)."
On the subject of “the openness of the spouses to life”, the prelate, who is also Bishop of Montpellier, declared that “a large majority of the responses emphasize that the Encyclical Humanae Vitae (1968) resulted in a break with Church teaching by many couples. The Church’s insistence on this point seems incomprehensible to these persons,” whereas only “a small, convinced minority puts this teaching into practice, by utilizing for example the Billings Method.”
In contrast, in Canada, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) noted that the results of the survey had been sent to Rome and that they would not be published. In a press release posted on its website on February 5, the CCCB explained that:
the process has shown many Catholics are not deeply aware of the Church’s rich and positive teaching on marriage and family. This can result in a troubling gap between the Church’s doctrine and the thinking of a number of Catholics."
When urged to explain its decision not to make the document public, the CCCB noted that it was “neither a survey nor a poll” and that the Canadian bishops were just following the instructions. In keeping with the letter from the Secretary General of the Synod dated October 18, which asked for a “broad and swift consultation” on the proposed topics, “that is what the CCCB did. Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri asked that the responses be confidential: that too is what the CCCB did,” asserted Msgr. Patrick Powers, Secretary General of the CCCB, in a statement posted online by Radio Ville-Marie on February 14.
In Ireland, the Irish Bishops’ Conference announced that it would not publish the data that it had compiled either. According to a spokesman cited by The Irish Catholic on February 13, “that would undermine the integrity of the information collection process if there was to be a comment made from an Irish Church representative at this time.” In the same article he recalled that “it is the Synod of Bishops which will comment when it has processed all responses.”
In England and Wales, the bishops’ conference declared on February 4 that it had received 16,500 responses to the Vatican’s questionnaire, 80% of them from lay people and 20% from Church leaders (clergy, seminarians, catechists, teachers…). “At least 6% were active in voluntary roles as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, readers, musicians, governors [principals] of schools, members of diocesan commissions [or] parish councils,” the spokesman for the English and Welsh bishops explained on the website of the daily newspaper The Catholic Herald on February 4. Sixty-nine percent (69%) of the respondents said that they were married while 6% are divorced. One percent of the respondents identified themselves as non-Catholic. As in Canada and Ireland, the bishops asserted that “in keeping with wishes of the Holy See, the summary of the responses sent to the Synod of Bishops is confidential.”
As we remarked in the preceding issue of DICI (no. 290, 2-14-2014), the German bishops insisted on presenting to the press the results of this consultation on the family and even provided a summary in English and in Italian on their website, so as to be sure that it had an international audience. This is what is called a pressure group. These mitred lobbyists could already count on their Austrian and Swiss confreres; now they can see the French and Japanese bishops aligned with them…. In all they make up 20%. This is what is called an active minority in a subversive process, the purpose of which is well known. As Bishop Markus Buechel, Ordinary of St.-Gall and President of the Swiss Episcopal Conference says without beating around the bush: it is all about reforming the Church’s moral teaching according to the standard of the values and ideals that correspond to the real life of the people.
(Sources: apic/ Radio Ville-Marie/Catholic Herald/The Irish Catholic/La Croix/cef/cccb—DICI no. 291, 2-28-2014)