Church won’t release family survey results

Findings ‘under wraps’ for bishops

The Church here won’t be publishing the results of a Vatican-ordered survey assessing the views of Catholics on a range of controversial topics.

The key findings from Irish Catholics on issues like pre-marital sex, homosexuality and Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried will now remain under wraps before a major meeting of the world’s bishops later this year.

Pope Francis ordered the worldwide consultation of Catholics ahead of the Synod of Bishops which is due to discuss challenges facing the family in Rome in October.

Ireland’s results won’t be released by the hierarchy despite a move by other bishops’ conferences – including Germany and Switzerland – to publish results. Surveys published so far show a clear divergence between what the Church teaches on marriage, sexuality and family life and what Catholics – even those active in parish life – personally believe.

The differences are seen “above all when it comes to pre-marital cohabitation, the status of the divorced and remarried, birth control and homosexuality,” said the German bishops’ report.

“Most of the baptised have an image of the Church that, on the one hand, is family friendly in its attitude, whilst at the same time considering her sexual morality to be unrealistic,” the German survey found.

Both the German and the Swiss reports said Catholics in their countries accept the Church’s vision of marriage as a life-long union of a man and a woman open to having children, and hope to realise that vision in their own family. However, both the German and Swiss bishops reported that between 90% and 100% of couples who seek a Catholic wedding are already living together, despite Church teaching that sex outside of marriage is wrong.

A spokesman for the Irish bishops confirmed to The Irish Catholic this week that there would be no statement on the specific responses of the Irish dioceses.

He said the results of the survey were “a matter for the Synod of Bishops and not for the local Church”.

It would “undermine the integrity of the information collection process if there was to be a comment made from an Irish Church representative at this time,” he insisted, adding “it is the Synod of Bishops which will comment when it has processed all responses”.