17 October 2014, The Tablet

Communion ban routinely ignored, Tablet survey finds

One-third of divorced and remarried Catholics who have not had their first marriage annulled receive Communion, even if they have not sought the permission of their priest, a global survey of Catholics conducted by The Tablet has found.

Almost a quarter of Catholics in these circumstances said that they received Communion in good conscience without having sought their priest’s permission. A further 10 per cent said they received with their priest’s permission. Fifty-five per cent refrained from receiving Communion and 11 per cent said they avoided going to Mass altogether because of the ban on them receiving Communion.

Catholics in Britain and Ireland in such circumstances were almost twice as likely to receive Communion without having sought permission as US Catholics (29 per cent to 17 per cent).

More than 4,300 people from around the world completed a questionnaire on www.thetablet.co.uk between 3 and 14 October. Many respondents were from the United States, where it was highlighted on conservative blogs.

Some 97 per cent of respondents said they were Catholic, and 89 per cent were lay. Eighty-eight per cent attend Mass at least once a week. A quarter were from the UK and 57 per cent from the US. Men outnumbered women by a ratio of 2:1.

Respondents said the best way for the Church to support marriage and family life was to run courses for married couples, while also clearly setting out its teaching on sexual matters.

Practising Catholics said the chief threats to marriage and family life were: artificial contraception; gay marriage and adoption; pressure caused by long working hours, money worries and unemployment; and the proliferation of pornography.

Almost three-quarters of practising Catholics welcomed the presence of lay people at the Synod, with one-quarter saying they wished more had been invited to attend and to be involved in decision-making.

Twenty per cent of Mass-going women and 15 per cent of Mass-going men said they sometimes felt the Church was too focused on the family to the point where they sometimes felt alienated.

Eighty-nine per cent of practising Catholics said a child needed a mother and a father, while 11 per cent said a parent’s gender was less important than his or her commitment to the child.

About half of respondents said there was a danger the synod would be dominated by Western concerns rather than those affecting Catholics in the developing world.

Some 83 per cent of practising Catholics said they regularly pray with their children, or did when they were younger, and 78 per cent said they often talk to them about faith, or did when they were younger.

Of the clergy who took part, more than a third said the ban on artificial contraception could be ignored in good conscience and that cohabitation could be an acceptable stage en route to marriage.

To read the results in full, click here.

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