23 September 2015, The Tablet

Church is controlling and out of touch, Catholic survey says

Catholics have complained that the Church is misogynistic and controlling as well as discriminating against people who are divorced and gay in response to a consultation carried out in England and Wales ahead of the Synod on the Family next month.

The critical comments appear in a summary of responses from more than 2,000 Catholics in 16 dioceses published yesterday by Cardinal Vincent Nichols.

The most scathing remarks concern the Church’s denial of communion to divorce and remarried Catholics, its view that couples living together outside marriage is sinful and its treatment of homosexuals and women.

Although many respondents refer to family life as a “blessing”, there are also accounts from people who write about being trapped in unhappy marriages and the detrimental effect this has on their children. A number of parents refer to the difficulty of passing on the faith to their children who perceive the Church as holding “outdated and misogynistic views”.

“There was a general consensus of the Church being pharisaical in its response to who can and cannot receive the blessed sacrament,” according to one diocese.

Many of those surveyed believe the Church held 'outdated and misogynistic views'Many of those surveyed believe the Church held 'outdated and misogynistic views' (PA)


Cardinal Nichols told journalists that the synod and the consultation were not PR exercises and that the responses reflected that the Catholic Church is a Church of sinners and that “we make a mess of things”.

"What we’ve got is a lively, passionate, family and we have our arguments and we have our different points of view and that’s fine because we a shared Lord and we have the places where we meet. And it’s very important that we learn more about how to make everybody welcome in those places,” he added.

The bishops’ conference set out six questions for the laity in a leaflet and online last December.  The questions were simple and positive in tone asking questions such as “How does your family life enrich those around you?” and “In what way, through the abiding presence of God, is your family ‘salt of the earth and light to the world’?”.

The publication of the summary of responses is a departure for the bishops. Last year they declined to publish details of their findings after conducting a similar exercise ahead of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family when they received a much bigger response.



Read full analysis and comment on the responses in this week’s print edition of The Tablet. To subscribe click here

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