- Battle lines drawn
This week produced the clearest evidence yet that the Synod Fathers are sharply divided between those who are supporting Pope Francis in his efforts to present a more pastoral vision of the Church and those determined first and foremost to emphasise its moral teaching
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The Diocese of Westminster is to publish findings from the recent Vatican questionnaire on marriage and the family – making it the first in Britain to do so.
Catholics in England and Wales, who participated in the consultative project organised in advance of the Synod on the Family in October, had been told by their bishops that they would not make the findings public, although the hierarchies of Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands and Japan have done so.
In an interview with this week's Tablet, Cardinal-designate Vincent Nichols said that there would be material relating to the responses published in his Archdiocese of Westminster by the end of this month in a document he described as “a reflection”.
“We were asked by the synod not to give a publicly detailed response, because the room for manoeuvre would be cut down,” he said. “The aim of this was to listen to people’s experience and to see the challenges.”
However, Cardinal-designate Nichols said there would be at least some response in Westminster. “I want to try to use the questions and responses to form an examination of conscience for all of us. They spell out the challenges. So we will put together a reflection.”
The German bishops’ report showed that a large majority of Catholics have rejected church teaching on contraception and divorce. Last week, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising told The Tablet that he was not surprised by the findings, and “the issue is how you deal with people in very difficult situations”.
Bishops in Scotland and Ireland have said they will not reveal the results of a recent Vatican survey on marriage and family life.