‘Never before have laypeople been as different from the leadership as now’

13 February 2014 | by Joanna Moorhead

“Breath of fresh air” and “official Catholic Church document” are not phrases that often occupy the same sentence. But all that changed a few days ago when the German bishops’ conference published its summary of responses to the questionnaire floated in advance of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, planned for October in Rome. For once, we were confronted with a report that was accessible, straightforward and – most important – reflected the world as we know it. On many issues connected with sexuality, child rearing and family life, the report said, the majority of Catholics (in Germany, but I imagine the story is the same across Europe) hold personal beliefs that are very different from the official church line. Premarital cohabitation, for e

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