I very often criticize the Catholic Church for its numerous shortcomings on human rights and paedophilia (among many others). It is important to note that most of these shortcomings are the teachings of the Church and the pronouncements from the Vatican, and not the members of the laity.
In an report issues last winter, surveys and polls have shown the majority of Catholics do not follow the Vatican on attitudes about some very important issues. The survey was conducted in preparation for a Synod on the family that occurred this past October.
A couple of issues that are of importance to believers, but don’t impact the rest of us are communion for divorcees who remarry, and allowing priests to marry.
Results from several countries have now been released, showing that, in Switzerland, 90% of respondents called on the Church to lift its refusal to give communion to divorcees who remarry.
In Germany, bishops said the survey showed that Catholics viewed the communion ban for divorcees as “unjustified discrimination and … merciless.”
Some issues such as the Church’s stance on contraception, abortion, and gay marriage have larger consequences because the negative effect the positions have on women and families worldwide.
The second, private poll of 12,000 Catholics in 12 countries showed that 78% backed contraception, rising to more than 90% in Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Spain and France. The private poll, carried out for Univision, a Spanish-language TV station in the U.S., found that 50% said priests should be able to marry, 51% favour female priests and 65% said abortions should be allowed — 8% in all cases, and 57% in some cases, including when a mother’s life is at risk.
Gay marriage is a different matter with 66% of the laity against equal rights for gays.
Of course, of these, the Church might move on communion rules and priestly celibacy, but I think I can safely say that there is no intention of meeting the attitudes believers on the human rights issues.
Again it is important to remember that the members of the Catholic Church can be very liberal and recognize the rights of women and others; it is the hierarchy that is failing.
Another topic that really doesn’t need a survey is attitudes against priestly child abuse. I cannot imaging anyone approving of the behaviour of these abusive priests and the way they were protected by the church. Here again we have seen little movement from the hierarchy in supporting the victims over the perpetrators. This only became an issue within the church when the public became aware of the worldwide scope of the abuse, and the support within the hierarchy for the abusers.
Even now, the church has not bothered to root out most of these criminals and hand them over to secular justice. In fact, the Pope recognizes that as well as priests, currently serving Bishops and Cardinals have been involved.
Pope Francis has said two per cent of the Roman Catholic clergy worldwide, the equivalent of 8,000 members, are pedophiles.
The Pope described child sex abusers as a “leprosy” within the Catholic Church and said the offenders include “priests and even bishops and cardinals.”
While asking for forgiveness from victims, he has made no move to excommunicate and support prosecution for these individuals. In fact the Church has fought tooth and nail to avoid any organizational accountability. The Catholic Church is not alone in abusing children, but it is unique in the worldwide multi-generational scale of the scandal.
I ask how anyone could continue to support such a vile institution, but it important to remember that the villains are not our next door neighbours. The villains are the ones running the show.