I really do not know why I failed to write about this at the time of release – I can only imagine that it was because there was so much information coming out around the papal visit, that I simply could not keep up. The findings of this survey however are valuable still, confirming similar research findings from other parts of the world: what Catholics in fact believe, does not coincide with what the Vatican claims we believe. In a survey for ITV of 1,636 Catholic adults in Britain prior to last September’s papal visit, these were the key findings:
4% agree it should not be used
71% believe should be used more often, to avoid pregnancy and STD infection
11% agree “only as indirect consequence of life-saving treatment”
6% – should never be permitted
44% believe termination should be permitted for rape, incest, sever disability to child;
30% should always be allowed
11% agree homosexual acts are wrong
41% said homosexual relationships should be celebrated along with heterosexual ones.
Just one third supported compulsory celibacy for priests
65% believed priests should be allowed to marry
The sensus fidelium requires that to be valid, a teaching must have the assent of the Church as a whole. Now I confirm once again that the SF is not determined by a simple matter of opinion polls, but the evidence of such extensive disagreement does at least prompt the obvious question: what grounds exist for believing the opposite, that these teachings on sexual ethics do in fact have the assent of the Church as a whole?
These results also demonstrate the importance of constantly challenging the bishops, drawing their attention to the obvious disjunction between abstract Vatican orthodoxy and the views of those Catholics with real-world sexual experience, so as to fashion sexual teaching with some foundation in reality.
This was the response to the results by the UK reform group, Catholic Voices for Reform
What the survey confirms very strongly is that Catholic Voices for Reform is correct in its claim that the Church has reached a stage where an open discussion about how the Church can best fulfil its sacred mission in the modern world is the only way forward.
Concerns and needs should always be brought to the Bishops and shared among others of the laity as is perfectly legal in Church law. (Can. 212 (3)) Those who ask for dialogue and reform are demonstrating loyalty in their commitment to the Roman Catholic Church.
We now call upon our all of our bishops to initiate a full and open dialogue involving the whole Church in England and Wales, laity, priests and bishops, to cover all of these issues which are already being discussed by Catholics all over the country after Sunday Mass and on other occasions when they meet.
Such a discussion should include:
- Governance of the Church in England and Wales and the role of the laity, with a view to introducing fully inclusive governance through collaboration at parish, diocesan and national level.
- The requirement for compulsory celibacy for priests.
- The treatment of people of a different sexual orientation and others who feel separated and excluded from the Church.
- The role of women in Church ministry.
- The imposition of the new translation of the liturgy.
We believe that, in the true spirit of collegiality and subsidiarity, as indicated in outcomes of the Second Vatican Council, it is appropriate for the Church in England and Wales to make a genuine effort to listen to lay Catholics and consult with them in the most collaborative way.