In regard to the recent survey/report published by the Diocese of Pittsburgh (“Catholic Sexuality Survey Finds Dissension,” Feb. 28), I think it was clear from the beginning the intention of this survey was not to reshape doctrine based upon popular opinion, but to improve catechesis in areas where it has previously been lacking. Reporting that the laity’s practical understanding of church teaching is “elementary” and “misinformed” is not a slight against the laity. It is an acknowledgement by the hierarchy that they have not done an effective job educating the laity in the past. The feedback from this survey is a tool that will help improve education for the future.
Having studied moral theology at the graduate level, I have discovered firsthand that many social issues are more complicated than they initially appear and, because of their complexity, they require patience and understanding to formulate both a logically sound and pastorally sensitive response. Prior to beginning my theological studies I would have agreed with many of those surveyed that the church hierarchy is overcomplicating issues and needs to get with the times. However, I see now that the solution is rarely that simple.
Unfortunately, the time and money are not available for every Catholic in Pittsburgh, much less the global church, to put their lives on hold for four years to study Catholic teaching at a university level. Therefore, the educating arm of the church finds itself in the difficult position of trying to bring the complex language of official doctrines down to a level that can be easily understood by the average lay person while at the same time trying to raise the standard of religious education to a level where the intricacies of teachings are not sacrificed through oversimplification.
While the responses Bishop David Zubik received in his survey may not be the ideal ones he would hope to see, they are the responses he needs to see in order to actively improve catechesis in the areas where it is most needed.