Poor Pope Francis! He reached out and asked the hierarchy to survey the lay persons under their charge for their views on various church practices that affect the modern family living in a post-Christian culture. I fear what he gets back will be of little use. He had to know what he would receive would be suspect since it would be coming through a hierarchical filter containing many flawed and incompetent leaders.
We in Pittsburgh have one of the hierarchical “good guys” in Bishop David Zubik — but even he seems unable to discern where the laity truly is (“Catholic Sexuality Survey Finds Dissension,” Feb. 28). “Pastoral Challenges of the Family” repeatedly prefaces the various findings by saying how lay people are ignorant of church teachings, using such phrases as they “have only an elementary understanding,” “as a majority are misinformed,” “do not know the church’s teaching,” “are dismissive and indifferent,” etc. I would posit many Catholics, having considered the church’s teachings in the realm of family (including sexual) morality, have found many of these teachings wanting.
Pittsburgh is one of the more “Catholic” cities in this country. It has many graduates of Catholic schools and universities. Parishes have a multiplicity of programs explaining and defending traditional church understandings. The laity is not ignorant or indifferent; instead the church’s arguments become less convincing as more information becomes available in the fields of psychology, biology and other sciences. Appeals to a natural law and Bible verses, selectively read, no longer convince so easily. This fact, along with the pervasive sex scandals, convince many that the church does not have the exclusive answer to what is “right” in the realm of the family and sexual morality. Lay people are not naive enough to think that church teachings will change in any reasonable time frame; however, they can hope that Pope Francis may change practices so that all are made welcome in our church communities.
In my view the laity would love to see the hierarchy eliminate the countless juridical hurdles regarding divorce and remarriage, abandon trying to use the civil law to enforce peculiarly Catholic understandings in medical and social areas, welcome all to the table and leave the judgment of individuals to God.