The Archbishop of Dublin has said it should not come as a surprise that a survey of parishioners there found the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family is poorly understood, and was poorly accepted and disconnected from real life experiences of families.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said the survey was carried out in the Dublin archdiocese in preparation for the forthcoming Synod of Bishops.
“The results are not very different to those which emerged in the same consultation process in various other European cities, on such subjects as family planning, pre-marital cohabitation, the problems of the divorced and re-married, the attitude to same sex relationships,” he told a gathering of priests and parish councils in one Dublin deanery. “What should surprise us is the fact that we have not been developing a strong pastoral response to these questions over the years. We should not have had to wait for a questionnaire from Pope Francis to address these questions.
“I may seem to have taken up too much of your time looking at the pastoral care of marriage and the family. I do so because the family is vital for the future of the Church and of society.”
In the replies, concern was expressed on the high number of those who were living in what the Church regards as irregular situations, whether because they were living together before marriage or because they were divorced and remarried. “Many spoke of these people suffering, feeling guilty, feeling marginalised, feeling excluded, feeling hurt, even despised.”
The strong pattern in the responses was that there should be an attitude of openness and compassion, outreach and welcome to these people.
On the subject of same-sex relationships, Archbishop Martin said some respondents saw the Church’s position as being purely negative and judgemental. “Many felt that there should be some way of civilly recognising stable same-sex unions, but there was a clear hesitancy, uneasiness and opposition with regard to marriage for same sex unions,” he said.
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