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Synod on the Family

 

[website] [English translation]

 

Zur Vorbereitung der weltweiten Synode zur Familie, die im Oktober in Rom stattfindet, befragten die Bischöfe im Dezember die Gläubigen in der Schweiz über ihre Erfahrungen, Anregungen und Kritiken zur kirchlichen Familien-, Ehe- und Partnerschaftspastoral. Jetzt liegen die Ergebnisse vor. 

 

Wer hat bei der Umfrage mitgemacht? 

 

 23‘636 Antworten, die bis Anfang Januar eingegangen sind (drei Viertel online, übrige Papierversion), sind Grundlage der Berechnungen.

  • Mit den Fragebögen, die nach Ende der Erhebungsfrist eingegangen sind, ergibt sich eine totale Teilnehmerzahl von  25‘000.
  • Das Durchschnittsalter liegt bei gut 54 Jahren, 47% Männer, 53% Frauen. Zwei Drittel haben Kinder.
  • Fast 92% gehören zur römisch-katholischen Kirche, knapp 95% leben in der Schweiz.
  • Der deutschsprachige Fragebogen wurde von ungefähr 87% ausgefüllt, der französischsprachige Fragebogen von ca. 9%. Über 1000 Menschen haben den italienischsprachigen Fragebogen ausgefüllt, was etwa 4,5% der Teilnehmenden entspricht.
  • Die grosse Zahl an Teilnehmenden, welche Fragebögen aus kirchlichen Medien (Pfarrblätter) verwendet haben, bedeutet, dass vor allem kirchennahe Menschen erreicht wurden.
  • Der kirchennahe Hintergrund der meisten Teilnehmenden zeigt sich auch darin, dass die kirchliche Heirat und eine christliche Erziehung der Kinder sehr hohe Zustimmungswerte erhalten.
  • Für kirchennahe Menschen ist es typisch, dass sie sich mit der Lehre der Kirche auseinandersetzen. Das hindert sie aber nicht, sich auch sehr kritisch dazu zu positionieren. 

Erste gefestigte Ergebnisse

 

Die Auswertung der Umfrage hat erst begonnen, dennoch lassen sich deutliche Trends darstellen.

 

Was den Umfrageteilnehmenden wichtig ist

 

Die kirchliche Eheschliessung ist durchgängig wichtig (80 Prozent). Der Wunsch, die eigene Paarbeziehung auch religiös zu gestalten und die Dimension des Religiösen bei wesentlichen Lebensentscheidungen einzubeziehen ist deutlich.

 

Der sehr grosse Wunsch nach einer christlichen Erziehung der Kinder bildet den höchsten Zustimmungswert der gesamten Pastoralumfrage (97 Prozent) !

 

Der Glaube spielt im Bereich der Familie und in der Kindererziehung eine grosse Rolle, auch wenn die Eltern dies nicht immer ausdrücklich formulieren (können). Ein kirchenstatistischer Beleg für die hohe Bedeutung des Glaubens im Bereich der Familie ist die Taufe, die in der Schweiz immer noch eine sehr hohe Zustimmung findet.

Für die Kirche sind diese zwei Aussagen eine grosse Chance für die Vermittlung ihrer religiösen Kernbotschaft.

Aber – dennoch ist nicht alles gut.

 

Diese grundsätzliche Offenheit für Religion und Glaube geht keinesfalls mit einer kritiklosen Zustimmung zur kirchlichen Lehre über die Familie, über die Ehe und über die Sexualität einher.

«Thema Nr. 1»

Ein sehr grosser Konsens zeigt sich im Unverständnis und in der Ablehnung gegenüber der offiziellen Lehre, geschiedene Wiederverheiratete nicht zu den Sakramenten zuzulassen. Die überwiegende Mehrheit (knapp 90 Prozent) teilt den Wunsch nach einer kirchlichen Anerkennung und Segnung deren Partnerschaften.

 

Prioritäres Anliegen an die Bischöfe und an die Kirche in der Schweiz ist der Wunsch nach Überwindung der ausschliessenden und als unbarmherzig und unchristlich verstandene Praxis im Umgang mit geschiedenen Wiederverheirateten. Diese wird von den Befragten aus religiösen Gründen und mit ausdrücklichem Bezug auf christliche Kernaussagen zurückgewiesen.

 

Kirchliche Anerkennung gleichgeschlechtlicher Partnerschaften – Mehrheit ohne Konsens

 

Eine Mehrheit von gut 60 Prozent der Umfrageteilnehmenden unterstützt den Wunsch nach einer kirchlichen Anerkennung und Segnung gleichgeschlechtlicher Partnerschaften. Anders als bei der Frage der geschiedenen Wiederverheirateten gibt es hier aber keinen Konsens, sondern eher eine Polarisierung. Klarer Zustimmung steht ebenso entschiedene, wenn auch zahlenmässig geringere, Ablehnung einer kirchlichen Anerkennung gleichgeschlechtlicher Partnerschaften gegenüber.

Für die Kirche und für die Kirchenleitung stellt sich hier die schwierige Aufgabe, eine Lösung zu finden, die dieser Differenz der Auffassungen gerecht wird und den seelsorglichen Bedürfnissen der lesbischen und schwulen Paare, denen die religiöse Gestaltung und Anerkennung ihrer Paarbeziehung ein wichtiges Anliegen ist, entgegen kommt.

 

Dauerthema Verhütung

 

Die Antworten auf die Frage nach künstlichen oder natürlichen Verhütungsmethoden zeigen die lange bekannte dramatische Differenz zwischen Lehramt und den Umfrage-Teilnehmenden. Das lehramtliche Verbot der künstlichen Methoden der Schwangerschaftsverhütung steht fernab zur Praxis und zu den Auffassungen der allermeisten Katholikinnen und Katholiken.

 

Vorbehalte bei der Zustimmung zur kirchlichen Lehre über die Familie

 

Zwar geben die meisten Katholikinnen und Katholiken an, die kirchlichen Positionen zu Sexualität, Partnerschaft, Ehe und Familie zu kennen, aber wenn sie nach der Zustimmung zu dieser Lehre gefragt werden, dann zeigt sich eine eher skeptische Haltung. Die Vorbehalte gegenüber der Lehre der Kirche sind sehr deutlich.

 

Perspektiven für die Kirche

 

Setzt man diese kirchenkritischen Ergebnisse mit dem grundsätzlichen Wunsch zu einer auch kirchlich-religiös geprägten Partnerschaft, Ehe und Familie ins Verhältnis, zeigt sich die dringende Notwendigkeit, den Status der kirchlichen Lehre über die Familie in Kirche und Seelsorge neu zu bewerten.

Die Verabsolutierung einzelner Normen und Vorgaben der Kirche gegenüber konkreten Lebenserfahrungen und Lebenssituationen der Menschen muss aufgebrochen werden. Forderungen seitens der Kirche, nach denen Katholikinnen und Katholiken den konkreten Normen und Verhaltensvorgaben der Kirche unbedingten und kritiklosen Gehorsam zu leisten haben, schaden schlussendlich der Kirche in ihrem Anliegen, den Menschen die zentraleren und wichtigeren Aspekte ihrer Botschaft zu vermitteln.

Nicht zuletzt sollte das Wissen um das Missverhältnis zwischen der Offenheit vieler Gläubiger für eine religiöse Prägung von Partnerschaft, Ehe und Familie einerseits und ihrer Ablehnung und ihrem Unverständnis gegenüber weiten Teilen der Lehre andererseits bei der Entwicklung pastoraler Angebote berücksichtigt werden. Gerade die Ehevorbereitung erhält insgesamt in der Umfrage kein gutes Zeugnis. Sie wird als zu wenig hilfreich für das Ehe- und Familienleben gesehen.

Schliesslich zeigt die Umfrage, dass die Kirche kaum als hilfreich gesehen wird, wenn es in Ehe und Familie zu Krisen kommt. Hier scheint es, dass das hohe Ideal der kirchlichen Lehre den Blick auf die Realität verstellt und die Ansprechbarkeit ausgerechnet erschwert für die Menschen, die Unterstützung brauchen würden.

 

Breite  Übereinstimmung

 

Eines der sehr erstaunlichen Ergebnisse der Untersuchung ist die ausgesprochen hohe Übereinstimmung im Antwortverhalten ganz unterschiedlicher Gruppen: Junge und Alte, Männer und Frauen; deutsch-, französisch- und italienischsprachige Teilnehmende – es gibt faktisch keine nennenswerten Abweichungen im Antwortverhalten. In keiner Frage öffnet sich ein Generationenkonflikt, es gibt keinen Kampf der Geschlechter, keinen Röstigraben, keine bedeutsame ökumenische Differenz zwischen den christlichen Konfessionen und auch keine relevante Unterschiedlichkeit der Antworten aus der Schweiz und aus dem Ausland.

 

Perspektiven für weitere Auswertungen

 

Wir stehen erst am Anfang der Auswertung. Für die weitere Analyse der Ergebnisse wird das SPI konkrete pastorale Fragestellungen zur Grundlage nehmen. Beispielsweise wäre es möglich, eine zielgruppenspezifische Auswertung vorzunehmen, um pastorale Angebote passender zu gestalten.

SPI - Schweizerisches Pastoralsoziologisches Institut

 

Downloads

Ergebnisse der Online-Befragung (1.86 MB)

Thesen von Bischof Markus Büchel anlässlich der Medienkonferenz vom 4. Februar (42.69 kB)

Beitrag von Weihbischof Denis Theurillat an der Medienkonferenz vom 4. Februar (59.27 kB)

Synthese der diözesanen Umfragen unter Seelsorgenden und Experten(596.43 kB)

Dieses Communiqué als PDF (105.07 kB)


 

Auftrag und Ziel des SPI

Das Schweizerische Pastoralsoziologische Institut (SPI) ist ein Forschungsinstitut, das von der katholischen Kirche in der Schweiz getragen wird. Sitz des Instituts ist St. Gallen.

Das SPI untersucht den sozialen, kulturellen und vor allem religiösen Wandel in der gegenwärtigen Gesellschaft. Die Erkenntnisse und Ergebnisse dieser Forschung dienen gleichzeitig als Grundlage für die Entwicklung von Konzepten und Perspektiven für die pastorale Planung und Praxis der katholischen Kirche in der Schweiz.

Die Verbindung der Grundlagenforschung mit der konzeptionellen Entwicklung und Beratung für die pastorale Arbeit in der Schweiz ist ein wesentliches Ziel des SPI.

 

Adresse und Kontakt:

Schweizerisches Pastoralsoziologisches Institut, SPI

Dr. Arnd Bünker, Institutsleiter
Gallusstrasse 24
Postfach 1926

9001 St. Gallen
Tel           0041 / 71 228 50 90 
Fax          0041 / 71 228 50 99

www.spi-stgallen.ch

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The Swiss have a long history of direct political participation and politics by referendum. In line with this tradition the bishops did not give their own answers on behalf of the people, but asked the people directly: they put a simplified version of the questionaire online. The following is taken from the website of the Swiss bishops.

 


Survey on the Pastoral Situation With Respect to Partnerships, Marriages, and Families of the Catholic Church in Switzerland - Results

 

February 4th, 2014

 

 

Who Participated in the Survey?

  • 25,000 responses (23,500 online, 1,500 returned paper questionnaires distributed by local churches), average age: 54, 53% women, 92% Catholic, 95% residents of Switzerland, two thirds have kids
  • German language 87%, French 9%, Italian 4,5%. More than on third of the responses came from the Basel area.
  • Most respondents are close to the Church (married in Church, give their kids a Christian education, participate in their local parish), but this does not mean that they are not critical of Church Teaching.

 

First Results: 

  • The evaluation of the responses is ongoing. But some clear trends are recognizable.
  • 80% favor getting married in church and want to include religious elements in their lives
  • Highest score of the survey is on the need to give kids a Christian education (97%)
  • Faith plays a large part in family and education even though most are not able to express this. The approval rating for baptism is very high.
  • generally, respondents are open to religion and faith but do not agree with Church Teaching on family, marriage, and sexuality.

 

Number One Issue:

  • Broad consensus about not understanding and disagreeing with the official teaching not to admit divorced and remarried persons to the sacraments. Almost 90% are in favor of the church recognizing and blessing these partnerships.
  • People expect from the Swiss bishops to overcome the current policy which is considered as excluding, non-merciful, un-Christian, and in explicit contradiction of the core messages of Christianity.

 

Recognition of Same Sex Partnerships by the Church - No Broad Consensus:


60% want the Church to recognize and bless same sex partnerships. But instead of a broad consensus there is increasing polarization.
The Church and the leadership of the Church face the difficult situation of finding a solution that does justice to these diverging convictions and to meet the pastoral needs of lesbian and homosexual couples with strong wishes for having a religious component in their relationships and having their relationships recognized.

 

 

Permanent Issue: Birth Control


The dramatic gap between respondents and Magisterium on this issue shown by the survey has been well known for a long time. The prohibition of artificial methods of birth control is far removed from the current practice and views of most Catholics.

 

 

Scepticism About the Church Teaching on Family:

Most Catholic claim to be familiar with Church Teaching on sexuality, partnership but show clear reservations and do not express an overall agreement.

 

 

Perpectives for the Church:

While there is strong criticism of the Church there is also a basic desire for religion and church having a part in partnerships, marriages and families. These two positions stand in relation and in tension to each other. They point to the urgent need to re-assess the status that the Church Teaching on the family has in the Church and in the pastoral activities.

 

The specific lived experiences and lived situation of the people stands in contrasts with efforts to hold up individual norms and laws of the Church as absolute. The demands of the Church for unchallenged acceptance and unconditional obedience to its norms and rules of behavior are damaging the efforts of the Church to impart to the people the more central and more important aspects of its message.

 

The knowledge about the disparity between the openness among many of the faithful towards a religiously imprinted partnership, marriage and family on the one side and their rejection and incomprehension towards large parts of the Teaching on the other side has to be taken into account when developing pastoral programs. Specifically, the survey shows bad marks for the marriage preparation courses. They are not considered helpful for marriage and family life.

 

The survey also shows that the Church is not considered helpful when it comes to crises in marriage and family life. It seems that the high ideals of the Church Teaching block the view of reality and make it more difficult to communicate with those most in need of support.

 

 

Widespread Concurrence:

A surprising result of the survey is the very high conformity in the responses from quite different groups: young and old, men and women, German-, French- and Italian-speaking participants. There are really no significant differences to be found in the way these groups responded. There is no evidence of a generational conflict, no gender conflict, no conflict between the German-speaking and the French-speaking parts of Switzerland, no discrepancy between the different denominations and not significant difference between responses from Switzerland and responses from abroad.

 

 

Perspectives For Further Evaluations:


We are only at the beginning of the evaluation. In the further analysis SPI will focus on specific pastoral questions. It might be possible to identify target group specific differences that allow a better focus in the preparation of pastoral programs.

 

 

SPI:


The SPI is the Swiss Institute for Pastoral-Sociology (Schweizerisches Pastoralsoziologisches Institut). It is a research institute financed by the Catholic Church of Switzerland. It is located in St. Gall.


The SPI investigates the social, cultural, and especially religious transformations in today's society. The findings and results of this research serve as a basis for the development of concepts and perspectives for the pastoral planning and practices in the Catholic Church in Switzerland.

 

A main goal of SPI is to ty its research into the fundamentals in with the development of advisory services and concepts for the pastoral work in Switzerland.

 

Address and contact:

Schweizerisches Pastoralsoziologisches Institut, SPI

Dr. Arnd Bünker, Director
Gallusstrasse 24
P.O. Box 1926

CH-9001 St. Gallen

Tel           0041 / 71 228 50 90
Fax          0041 / 71 228 50 99

 

www.spi-stgallen.ch

 

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Translated by Bernie Aurin from German as published on the website of the Swiss bishops:
http://www.bischoefe.ch/dokumente/communiques/umfrage-zur-familienpastoral-ergebnisse

 

 

 

 

Bishop Robert Lynch writes:

 

At the beginning of December, I announced in these pages and in a letter sent to all of our parishes and missions that our diocese would welcome any input from the faithful as they might wish to the questions sent by the Holy See at the request of Pope Francis on marriage and family life in our day.

 

Over 6,800 people responded, taking time to fill out the survey, often taking significant additional time to add comments to the online version or by filling out the survey on paper and submitting it (written submissions were subsequently entered into the online survey). What Gallup, Pew or the other polling companies would give for nearly 7,000 participants in what was basically an opinion poll!

 

The timeline was short, too short, but all the responses were received, reviewed by members of the Diocesan Pastoral Council, results shared with the Presbyteral Council and then in mid-January forwarded by me to the appropriate office in Rome which is planning for the two synods which will discuss marriage and family life in our day in October of this year and October of 2015.

 

- See more at: 

 

Survey results

 

 

We are Church       Denmark, Norway and Sweden 

 

Responses to the Questionnaire in Preparation for the Synod of Bishops on the Family and Evangelisation in 2014

 

The three independent national groups of the International Movement We are Church in Scandinavia have agreed to respond to the Questionnaire in Preparation for the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family and Evangelisation together. This is partly a consequence of the limited action taken by our dioceses.  In Sweden the questionnaire was not published on the website for people to respond to. The Swedish Justitia et Pax, however, collected a limited number of responses.   In Denmark only priests, pastoral councils and Church employees were invited to reply. In Norway Priests,members of Pastoral Councils and others employed by the Church were invited to answer to the questionnaire while lay people were invited to answer to a shorter version of it (ten questions out of 38). 

 

On this background we would like to present a summary of the responses we have got as a supplementto what is being sent in from the Nordic Bishop’s Conference.

 

 

1. The Diffusion of the Teachings on the Family in Sacred Scripture and the Church’s magisterium

Most people outside and within the Church are aware of the fact that the Church values the family highly. Most people in our countries do. However, Catholic Christians seem not to ground their belief in the family in Church Documents or magisterial teaching. They read and listen more to secondary sources than primary sources. Young people may get good information about the Church’s view on marriage through preparatory courses in their parish but an increasing number of couples do not marry in the Church.  Some are happy with a civil marriage while others cohabit for quite a long time.

 

The understanding of marriage as a sacrament is far from clear. Marriage is primarily understood as a union between two who love each other and intend to share their life in mutual fidelity. However, marriage is also perceived as an ideal that is not easily achieved. Many couples experience a complete failure with loss of love, friendship, companionship and meaning.  Most baptizes believe that what constitutes marriage as a sacrament is the love between the two. When there is no love there is no marriage.  Some people experience pastoral care when they fail, others not. It depends on the culture in their parish or singular priests and another responsible counselling them.

 

Humanae Vitae is hardly known for anything but its rejection of the use of so-called artificial contraception. This idea is rejected in our countries (with some very few exceptions).

 

The Church’s attitude towards sexuality, contraception and divorce is more often than not regarded as irrelevant.  And the Church is often perceived as lacking in mercy and ethics. That also goes for its attitude towards homosexual marriage which is becoming more accepted by the baptized.

 

2. Marriage according to the Natural Law

The notion of natural law is hardly known by people in our countries. Those ethicists who sometimes use it often stress that the interpretation of it has changed from time to time and that any way it would be so general that it could hardly be useful in the complex situations of daily life. Natural law probably plays no role in the thinking of the baptised on marriage and sexuality. It is also not valid or consistent with anthropology where we consider humans to have a certain degree of free self-determination.

 

The celebration of marriage is a beautiful and meaningful experience that many baptized still want even if they do not quite understand the Church’s teaching on marriage as a sacrament.

 

When non-practicing or non-believing couples ask to be married in Church we are inclined to think theyshould not be rejected.  The celebration may be used by The Holy Spirit in ways unknown to us.

 

 

3. The Pastoral Care of the Family in Evangelization

Most parishes offer some kind of marriage preparation for those who choose a wedding ceremony in Church.

 

The understanding of the family as a domestic Church can be challenging, promising and threatening. For people to perceive of themselves as a domestic Church they need to be included and participating in parish life. This again, depends on how they experience their parish, whether they understand the sermons, preaching and teaching, and whether they experience a real communio in the parish. It also depends on how much time they are able to or prepared to spend in the parish activities which again depend upon understanding what happens in the parish and on being accepted as they are.

 

Transmitting the faith has a lot to do with belonging. Many baptized are alienated from the Church because they perceive of the Church as a different reality than their own and also because they find the Church’s moral teaching on sexuality and family unsatisfactory or simply irrelevant in real life. After Humanae Vitae with its prohibition of the so called artificial contraception the baptized have understood that they must rely on their own judgement in moral questions. 

 

When the institutional Church speaks of the family it mostly refers to a heterosexual couple with children. But there are so many kinds of families. There are single parent families, gay and lesbian families, families where the parents are divorced and remarried, extended families and so on. All the different kinds of families can be domestic Churches and need encouragement and help from the parish. For that to happen they must be accepted and respected and included when the Church speaks about the family.

 

The dilemma facing the Church is that on one hand it must uphold an ideal model of family and on the other hand respect, love and include those who have chosen or been forced to live with another model of family. The evangelising Church should convey that all families, regardless of family structure or model, are called to be domestic churches.

 

Prayer in the family is not so common any more. In many families common meals are rear. Perhaps families should be encouraged to come together once a week to pray The Lord’s Prayer. That could be a good beginning.

 

Many parishes are at their very best when meeting people in the middle of a life crisis. It is, however, extremely difficult to understand and accept that divorced and remarried people are being banned from the Holy Communion.  It causes suffering and alienation. Children with parents who may not receive the sacrament are likely to feel completely alienated from the Church.

 

 

4. Pastoral Care in Certain Difficult Marital Situations

Cohabitation ad experimentum is a reality in our countries and probably most Catholics have cohabited for longer or shorter time before marrying. They may bring their children to the wedding ceremony. Hardly anybody marries without having had sex before marriage. This is so also among second generation Catholic immigrants who come to our countries from cultures and countries with populations which are often considered conservative in their Catholic faith and life.

 

Several models of unions are recognized in Scandinavia. See chapter 5.  Separated couples and divorced and remarried couples are a strong pastoral reality.  Probably a third (or more) of all couples find themselves in such a situation.  The number is growing.  Many of them want to continue to nourish their spiritual life in the parish but many suffer from being excluded from the Communion and little by little disappear from mass and parish life. By losing the parents the Church also most probably loses their baptized children who eventually may lose their faith in God.

 

Some priests are aware of this situation and are offering good pastoral care. Some remarried couples and some homosexual couples take the communion but still feel marginalized and unhappy. We are not aware of any pastoral initiatives on a diocesan level to repair this situation.

 

The annulment process has a bad reputation partly because it is perceived as a “cheat divorce” and partly because it presupposes that a couple agrees to that their former marriage was not valid. For most couples that is not true. They know that their marriage was valid but that they have failed in it. What they want is to be able to put the failure behind them, get forgiveness for their sins and consolation in their sorrow in order to be able to start a new life. For the baptized this seems to be the Christian way of living.  The sacramental view on marriage is scarcely understood by people.  Forgiveness and new beginnings is at the center of their faith.

 

The Church might consider whether the only 1000 years old understanding of the sacrament of marriage is ready for some rethinking.

 

5. The union of Persons of the Same Sex

Civil law in Scandinavia recognizes marriage between gays and lesbians. The majority of Lutheran bishops in Scandinavia accept this, and there are a number of married gay and lesbian priests and even bishops. 

 

Our bishops have argued against the legislation without creating what one might call “an American Catholic battle”.  The public finds it difficult to understand how the Church can be against homosexual marriages and at the same time be against discrimination of homosexuals.

 

It has become easier to openly live as gay or lesbian couples and there are quite a few of them in our parishes. Mostly they are not marginalized until they marry. A few have had to leave the Pastoral Council or other work in their parish after getting legally married. The Catholic lay people are still divided on this issue but the number of baptized who accept homosexual unions seem to be rapidly growing.  Children of lesbian or gay parents are accepted at Catholic schools.

 

The modern family has many structures. Family life is vulnerable in any structure. Even if the Church upholds one ideal model of family it is extremely important that all kinds of families are accepted and included in a trustworthy way in the pastoral care of their parish.

 

 

7. The openness of the Married Couple to Life

Humanae Vitae is associated with the prohibition of so-called artificial contraception.  This is not accepted by the large majority of Catholic Christians. The use of contraceptives has not been considered a subject to be mentioned in the confessional (with a possible exception for some priests coming from the Philippines, Poland and some other traditionally Catholic countries.)  The diocese spends money on trying to help a very small minority of women to use so-called natural contraception methods.

 

The rest of the Encyclical is hardly known to most people. There is sexual education at all levels of the compulsory School system and in the media. It may be said that this education fails to anchor sexuality within a setting of long-lasting love, respect and responsibility. It therefore fosters a hedonistic attitude to sexuality.

 

The Church on the other hand tries to promote a view on sexuality that belongs to a long past century. It is necessary and urgent that the Magistrate of the Church starts working on this problem. Modern anthropology and psychology together with other sciences can contribute with important insights and impulses in such a process. It also is of the outmost importance that baptized with real life experiences with sexuality and different kinds of family life take part in a process of developing a new attitude towards body and sexuality in the Church.  The numerous sexual scandals in the Church have minimized the credibility of the institutional Church on these issues.

 

Some countries are suffering a decline in population due to few births. Among them are countries usually referred to as Catholic countries like Mexico, Italy and Spain.  In other parts of the world over-population is a problem. In Scandinavia we have a reasonably high birth-rate which, together with immigration, keeps the population fairly constant.

 

We believe that the best thing the Church can do to contribute to raise the birth-rate in those countries were it seems necessary is to work for a social welfare in the society which favors more births. It is a question of parents (mothers’ and fathers’ as well as single parents’) leave with some economical compensation when a child is borne and good quality child care which makes it possible for both parents to work. The Church might get involved in building up such institutions but mainly this is a political question. Both hierarchy and lay Christians may try to influence the politicians through sound social teaching.

 

 

8. The Relationship between the Family and the Person

Life in the family with any structure is a privileged situation when personally perceived and shaped as such. Critical situations may rise when there is dishonesty and double moral standards in the home. An authoritarian style of up-bringing may also be a serious threat to the children’s encounter with Christ.

 

A crisis of faith may be destructive as well as constructive. Love, honesty, humility and mutual respect are prerequisites for working one’s way through difficulties and for the development and growth in faith both in the person and in the family.

 

9. Other Challenges and Proposals

We believe that the Church needs to make a bridge between an idealised view on sexuality, marriage and family and the experiences of Christian families to-day. It is urgent to take into account human experiences. 

 

We also believe that there is a need for a rethinking of Christian anthropology in light of the knowledge that has appeared in modern biology, psychology, studies of gender, biology and other sciences and that there is a need for a revised view on sexuality.

 

We believe that the Holy Communion should never be used as something that is perceived as a punishment but always as a gift of God to those who seek him, in success or in failure.

 

We ask and pray that men and women with experience from family life in all its variety may be given a voice at the Synod of bishops on the family.

 

The notion of family has changed over thousands of years. In biblical times it encompassed the entire household. In the last century it referred to the core family. Today other forms and structure appear. As Church we must deal with the variety of family structures found in different cultures. Any family can be a domestic church and be part of the evangelizing body of Christ.

 

 

 

Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm February 5, 2014

  

Kaare Ruebner Jørgensen                   Pål Kolstø                               Hans Reiland

We are also Church                             Also We are Church                We are Church

Denmark                                              Norway                                    Sweden

(Signed)                                               (Signed)                                   (Signed)

  

Anne Helene Utgaard

Secretary

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E-mail addresses:

Denmark: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Norway: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sweden: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Secretary: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Mail address and phone:

 

Anne Helene Utgaard

Hallagerbakken 92 b

1256 Oslo

Norway

 

+47 22615650

+47 93069314

 

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