To jump to these sections please begin by clicking on the Read More button.
Reflections on the questionnaire
To whom is the questionnaire really addressed?
It is obvious, from the way in which most questions are formulated, that it is addressed almost exclusively to parish priests, bishops, other administrative clergy, diocese and parish record-keepers/statisticians, catechists and perhaps lay church group leaders. The focus is predominantly on how these leaders fashion and structure their “top-down” efforts on ‘family formation’ for the faithful.
There are no questions here that actually ask lay individuals directly about their own detailed practical experience of family life in the Christian context, and about how they are helped with it by their own pastor in their individual parish.
When Pope Francis announced that he will host a Synod of Bishops to discuss the topic 'The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the context of Evangelization', a group of moral theologians decided that they must take this opportunity to prepare a blueprint for reform in this area and that this should be presented to the bishops and the pope as a collective response to the questions in the survey by theologians and catholic scholars.
Professor Joseph Selling of Louvain University prepared its first draft. Selling is an expert on the issues involved. He published on the responses to “Humanae Vitae”, on the previous Synod on the Family in 1980 and further developments.
The draft was subsequently discussed at the colloquium of moral theologians (ATMT) from 8th – 11th November in Leeds, UK. It has now been published here: http://www.johnwijngaards.org/statement/ and has already been signed by 40 theologians and experts.
The Statement tackles problems such as these: -
- the leadership of the church is removed from the realities people experience;
- marriage exists in a variety of forms;
- real family life is complex;
- a responsible use of contraceptives should be allowed;
- the remarried and the young need better pastoral support;
- the church should listen to professional lay advisers.
The Statement will be submitted to the Bishops’ Conference probably by mid December.
An earlier British initiative, the “Catholic Scholars’ Declaration on Authority in the Church” (www.churchauthority.org) has been signed by 215 theologians world wide (18 from the UK). I sent it to Pope Francis on the 9th of September - in both English and Spanish - with all the signatures attached, and received an acknowledgment from him on the 19th of September.