The laity were invited to complete a worldwide survey of the family. Over 12,000 people in the UK responded to what was a quite difficult document to understand and to complete within three weeks. In a report in the Catholic Herald of 7 February by Madeline Teahan we are told that a spokesman for the bishops’ conference said ‘in accordance with the wishes of the Holy See, the summary of the response sent to the synod of bishops is confidential’.
Yet in another article by Cindy Wooden in the same issue, we read that the German bishops have posted on their website (with an English translation !) an 18 page extremely realistic summary of the responses from all of Germany’s dioceses which shows how out of touch the Vatican is with current practice. The German report concludes that for the forthcoming Synods ‘it is a matter of actually taking married couples and families seriously…. and involving them actively in the preparations and appropriately engaging them in the deliberations of the Synod itself’. The Swiss bishops have also published a summary.
If this survey is to have any credibility, we are entitled to be told the results now, let alone the outcome. This decision of our bishops seems to be another example of normal Church consultation: opinions are sought and then ignored - shades of the 1980 Pastoral Congress ! We are not seeking to anticipate decisions at this stage, just an honest summary of expressed views even merely as a token of gratitude for those who took the trouble to respond.
The German bishops also decided to reject the new text for the celebration of their mass. Pope Francis has said that local bishops should make their own decisions. May one ask if our bishops are mice or men ?
The excellent German summary report can be downloaded here: Pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelisation (100.79 kB)