Surprising news from Switzerland ” “

Consultation results: Yes to marriage, doubts on other fundamental issues " "

Faith is important but it’s increasingly distant from an unconditional adhesion to Church doctrine on the family, marriage and sexuality: these are the highlights of the outcomes of the consultation on pastoral care of couples, marriage and the family in the Catholic Church, published by the Swiss Bishops’ Conference. World Churches with a view to the Synod on the family launched the consultation, following a proposal by Pope Francis. The Swiss Bishops’ Conference was the first to release the figures emerging as a result of the consultation. “Some trends are already visible”, states the release by the Swiss Institute for Pastoral Sociology chaired by Arnd Bünker, commissioned by the Swiss Bishops’ Conference to provide an analysis of the consultation outcomes. Faith and religious marriage. As relates to participation, 25 thousand responded, with an average age of 54 years. Most of the questionnaires returned are in German (87%). Following the French language (9%), while only a thousand people filled out the questionnaire in Italian language. The first conclusion drawn by the Swiss Institute is that for 80% of the respondents religious marriage is generally important, which shows a clear desire to give a religious dimension to the family. 97% also confirmed adherence to religious education for their children and said that faith plays an important role in family life and children upbringing. In fact, large numbers of baptisms are celebrated in Switzerland. “These two results – states the release – are a great opportunity for the Church to convey her message”. “However – added the Swiss Institute – “this principle of openness towards religion and faith is not matched by an unconditional acceptance of the Church’s teaching on family, marriage and sexuality”. Divorced re-married couples. The analysis starts with the acknowledgment that “the questionnaires highlight a misunderstanding and a rejection vis a vis official doctrine which does not authorize access to the sacraments by divorced and remarried believers. “The vast majority of Catholics (90%) expect, therefore, recognition by the Church and the blessing of the couples”. “The request reiterated to the bishops and to the Church in Switzerland as a whole – reads the communiqué accompanying the data – is to abolish the practice considered discriminatory and lacking in Christian love towards the divorced and remarried”. Homosexual unions. Thus follows a paragraph on homosexual couples. A majority of about 60% supports the recognition and blessing by the Church of homosexual couples, contrary, however, to the question of the divorced and remarried – emphasizes the Swiss Institute – “there is no consensus but rather a polarization”. Alongside with clear adhesion, there is also a categorical – albeit less numerous – refusal of recognition of homosexual partnerships on the part of the Church”. The communiqué highlights the fact that the issues entail a complex challenge for the Church, called to “find a solution that will take into account opposing views whilst responding to the needs of pastoral care of the homosexual couples that deem important to be granted a recognition and a religious dimension to their relationship”. Contraception. The replies to questions on contraceptive methods highlight “dramatic disagreement, well-known for a long time”: the ban on artificial means of contraception is far from the practice and the ideas of the great majority of Catholics. “Most Catholics – states the release – say they are familiar with the Church’s position on sexuality, couples, marriage and the family but are also sceptical when they are asked if they adhere with these positions. Reservations expressed on the social doctrine of the Church are clear”. However, added the Institute – “we’re just at the beginning of evaluations. For a further analysis the Institute will also be based on the requests for concrete pastoral care”.

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