We Are Church Intl.

Synod on the Family

Women’s rights in the church


Pope Francis Exhortation is an invitation to the laity to speak out and for our bishops to engage . The exhortation makes clear that he understands the importance of women's participation in decision-making for the cultural transition our Church must make.


.Women's participation in decision-making is a structural issue as important to the future of our Church and the issue of world peace and reduction of poverty, as collegiality and synodal reform.


.The frustrations that we have experIenced getting laity involved in the Synod do not reflect the spirit of the Exhortation.


. It is time for us all to speak out frankly and fearlessly to the world so Pope Francis hears.


. We have to break the silence between the Vatican and the laity.


. We are making a difference.


Marilyn Hatton

Celibacy - the sin of the church to refuse family life to clerics



Western progressive Catholics have misunderstood Pope Francis from the beginning. They think that he is ‘on their side’.


What they have not realised is that he has little comprehension of the Anglo-American and developed European worlds. His primary interest is in the developing world, poverty and inequality and, to some extent, in environmental issues. This, of course, is good.


However, it is becoming increasingly obvious that he is dependent on a small group of advisors regarding affairs in the developed world, especially the English-speaking world. You can see this in the bishops he has already appointed to important dioceses in the US and Australia. Also by not acting decisively in his first year he has lost the initiative for much needed reform of important issues like the appointment of bishops.


My advice to progressive Catholics is ‘Lower your expectations or else you’ll be disappointed’.


Dr Paul Collins

Contraception Use and Humane Vitae: The Great Divide


In February 2014, when Univision conducted a poll of more than 12,000 Catholics from five continents to gauge the level of support for controversial Catholic teachings, there were as you might expect, enormous differences across regions. But on the issue of contraception, there is a remarkable consensus. Overall, 78% of Catholics in Europe, Africa, Latin America, the U.S. and the Philippines opposed the teachings of the Catholic Church on this issue.


% of Catholics who disagree with Church teachings - Overall


Gay marriage, 30%

Women priests, 45%

Married priests, 50%

Divorce, 58%

Abortion, 66% (9,57)

Support for contraception by region


Uganda, 44% DRC, 44%
Philippines, 68% Poland, 75%

U.S.A., 79%

Italy, 84%
Mexico, 88% Spain, 90%
Argentina, 91% Colombia, 91%
Brazil, 93% France, 94%
Poland, 75%  



 Is that the “sense of the faithful” the sensus fidelium so central to our understanding of the Church coming out of Vatican II?


Commenting on the 6800 survey responses he received in answer to his diocesan survey taken in preparation for this synod, Bishop Robert Lynch of  St. Petersburg, Florida said,”  “On the matter of artificial contraception the responses might be characterized by the saying, ‘that train left the station long ago.’   Catholics have made up their minds and the sensus fidelium suggests the rejection of Church teaching on this subject.”


His comments echo what FutureChurch and seventeen Catholic reform organizations in the United States found as a result of their November 2013 survey where only 1% of 16, 582 respondents (52% self identified as mass goers) agreed that the teachings of Humanae Vitae were completely accepted. 


The bishops from Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Ireland and Japan all echoed similar reports.


Pope Paul VI ‘s decision to overturn the recommendation of his Pontifical Commission on Birth Control became a breakpoint, according to sociologist Fr. Andrew Greeley, for the disintegration of trust and respect for the authority of Church teaching on this issue and the subsequent mass exodus of parishioners.   


Yet, despite the overwhelming evidence that Catholics have not accepted the tenets of Humanae Vitae, there is far too little evidence that this synod will provide the participants who could engender new conversations on the topic.  The official yet minority position of the Church on this issue is vastly overrepresented in the current makeup of the invitees while those who could engender serious new discussions were left out.


Yet there is hope in those who express the position of the majority of faithful Catholics such as Cardinal Walter Kasper who recently said that birth control was “the responsibility of the parents” to decide and that the natural family planning promoted by the Church also has an “artificial” element (Telegraph, 19 Sept 2014). 


Further hope is connected to the man who called the synod in the first place.  Recently, in response to Cardinal Gerhard Mueller’s full out defense of the immutability of Church teaching, Pope Francis said,  “Faced with so many pastoral requirements, faced with the requests of men and women, we run the risk of becoming afraid and of turning in on ourselves in a fearful and defensive manner...This fear leads to the temptation to be self-satisfied and to clericalism, to codify the faith in rules and instructions just as was done by the Pharisees, the scribes and the doctors of law in Jesus’ time...(Irish Times, 20 Sept 2014).”


Indeed Catholics have experienced the weight of those in power who “tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them (Mt 23:4).”


At FutureChurch, our mission is rooted in the foundational notion that the faithful have fundamental rights and responsibilities in the life of the Church and for the good of the whole Church.  They have the right to petition, that is, to make known to pastors their needs and hopes (C 212.2) and the right to advise pastors regarding the good of the church, and to participate in public opinion and informing the faithful (C212.3). 


We believe it is imperative for the success of this synod and the life of the Church that the temptation to include only those who are loyal to current Church teaching in the working groups is avoided and that the voices of all the faithful are engaged in a meaningful way.  That could happen if synod officials choose to widen their circles to include a diversity of voices while taking seriously the chorus of voices already received in the form of survey responses.  Only by creating a structure where real dialogue can flourish will the Church find its way into a robust and meaningful future of shared faith and communal life. 

FutureChurch agrees with both the hope and concern Sr. Joan Chittister expressed when she said,   “From where I stand, it looks as if we have been given another opportunity to do it right this time. The only question is whether or not the bishops who were entrusted with gathering the answers of the laity to these questions will start at all. Let alone go all the way (NCR, 28 May 2014).” #####


 Deborah Rose-Milavec