The 75-page document, titled ‘Instrumentum Laboris’, has been prepared ahead of the synod of Catholic bishops, which is set to take place at the Vatican in October this year. The document is based on a 39-question survey that was sent out to bishops across the world, who shared it with their priests to gather the opinions of parishioners worldwide.
The responses from lay folk has clearly made the Vatican take stock of its followers, as the main reaction is that the Church is “too exclusive, distant and in need of more humility”.
On the topic of homosexuality, it became clear from the survey that there is now a distinct gap in terms of what Catholics believe, and what the Church’s official stance is. The document described that “many Catholics had a shallow understanding of the teachings of their Church on issues such as birth control, homosexuality, divorce, remarriage, cohabitation and other issues related to the family.”
In an unexpected turn, Catholics were also asked how they felt about the idea of children of same-sex couples being welcome in the Church. Their response to the question was overwhelmingly positive and welcoming.
“…when people living in [same-sex unions] request a child’s baptism, almost all the responses emphasize that the child must be received with the same care, tenderness and concern which is given to other children,” the report said.
According to Reuters:
While Vatican officials have stressed that Church teachings against homosexual activity would not change under pressure of public opinion, the document said “many responses” called for “theological study in dialogue with the human sciences to develop a multi-faceted look at the phenomenon of homosexuality”.
The paper will be discussed by bishops at the upcoming synod on family in October, where they may suggest modifying Church teachings. If so, these would need to be approved by Pope Francis before coming into effect.