Found: the committee that gave us the camel, when we asked for a horse …

Q7. The Openness of the Married Couple to Life

Question 7a: What knowledge do Christians have today of the teachings of Humanae vitae on responsible parenthood? Are they aware of how morally to evaluate the different methods of family planning? Could any insights be suggested in this regard pastorally?

Either they are aware of it and ignore it, or they haven’t heard of it, so it isn’t relevant.

They make a moral evaluation according to their family needs and the best way to provide a secure and loving home for the child.

The best insight is to remind people that children deserve to have two parents who are committed to care for them for as long as the child needs their care. If they can’t commit to that, they should seriously consider not to have children. If they do decide to have children, they should be made aware of their obligation to society and the planet, there should be serious and compelling reasons, for them to have more than two.
The most important moral requirement that every parent should be made aware of is that the most important thing that you can give to your child, is your time.

7b: Is this moral teaching accepted? What aspects pose the most difficulties in a large majority of couple’s accepting this teaching?

Humanae Vitae offers no moral teaching. It interferes and does not attempt to address issues or problems that sexually active couples face. Instead it bullies and attempts to control. It is something which Popes in the future will feel required to apologise for.

It is much more serious than the Church bullying people to eat particular food on particular days of the week for years, and then changing its mind. Humanae Vitae proposes a lifestyle that is unethical, immoral and corrupt, destroys families and damages children.

7c: What natural methods are promoted by the particular Churches to help spouses put into practice the teachings of Humanae vitae?

It is doubtful anyone would be able to tell you these days. If you have to ask, you are more out of touch with the laity that anyone has so far imagined.

Question 7d: What is your experience on this subject in the practice of the Sacrament of Penance and participation at the Eucharist?

I have never confessed it as a sin, as it wasn’t one. I have never done penance for acting responsibly. It has never affected my participation at the Eucharist.

Question 7e: What differences are seen in this regard between the Church’s teaching and civic education?

The Church teaches something irresponsible and impractical. Civic education teaches the facts that relate to the act and the relationship, sufficient to allow the student to make an informed and intelligent decision about a most important part of her/his adult life.

Question 7f: How can a more open attitude towards having children be fostered? How can an increase in births be promoted?

Prospective parents must be told that God is part of everyone, and as such, they will know what is right or what is wrong. Thus they will see that a child has the right to be loved and cared for not just ‘born’.

Prospective parents must be told that they alone have the right to plan for and decide when and how many children they should have. They must accept the responsibility for all their actions, and having a child is the most serious action they will ever take.

The planet’s resources are finite. Access to resources are unequally spread. The population will double in 50 years, if every country reduces its current birthrate. If everyone is to aspire to the standard of living enjoyed by any member of the clergy living in a developed country, the birthrate must be severely limited not increased.

Any suggestion that an increase in birthrate is a good idea shows that the Church is a bigger anachronism than I ever expected. The Extraordinary Synod lives in an imaginary world and is possibly considering colonisation of Mars.

This ridiculous notion is over 2000 years old, it was a Jewish idea to increase the population of God’s chosen people. Has the Church issued its forward projection? When will its indiscriminate breeding stop?

The Extraordinary Synod must be that same committee that invented a camel, when what they needed was a horse. I would love to meet one priest who thinks that an increase in births should be promoted — only an ill–informed committee that couldn’t wait to go for lunch, could vote for such an idiotic and irresponsible idea.

If only the Catholic Church made pronoucements like this one …

We have to be realistic. We can’t be taken in by appearances; we have to adopt a realistic approach. It’s through education that we come to grips with reality. Understanding grows first from hearing or reading, followed by analysis and experiment, and then really thinking about it. It is one of our unique human abilities that we can look at reality from more than one angle.

There is only one contemporary religious leader who ever sounds like he is talking to thinking beings — thank God that he sent us the Dalai Lama!

How do children fare who are raised by same–sex couples?

I tried my best to answer these questions — if you really want to know, ask Riley Roberts http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDqiTt7mfsQ

Question 6a: What is the estimated proportion of children and adolescents in these cases, as regards children who are born and raised in regularly constituted families?

Currently 3% of adopted children are raised by homosexual partners. As a proportion of the total number of children in two parent families, this must be very, very tiny. No statistics seem to have been gathered to give an accurate picture.

26% of children live with one parent, 73% with two and 1% are looked after by the local authority.

Question 6b: How do parents in these situations approach the Church? What do they ask? Do they request the sacraments only or do they also want catechesis and the general teaching of religion?

The numbers are too small to answer this question. One assumes they will be treated equally with any other child.

Question 6c: How do the particular Churches attempt to meet the needs of the parents of these children to provide them with a Christian education?

The numbers are too small to answer this question. One assumes they will be treated equally with any other child.

Question 6d: What is the sacramental practice in these cases: preparation, administration of the sacrament and the accompaniment?

The numbers are too small to answer this question. One assumes they will be treated equally with any other child.

God doesn’t discriminate by gender, so don’t put yourself above God

On Unions of Persons of the Same Sex
Question 5a: Is there a law in your country recognizing civil unions for people of the same-sex and equating it in some way to marriage?

Yes.

Question 5b: What is the attitude of the local and particular Churches towards both the State as the promoter of civil unions between persons of the same sex and the people involved in this type of union?

Varies from careless indifference through confused bewilderment, to bigoted anger and furious condemnation. Conservative Anglicans are embarrassed to say other than “we have always welcomed homosexuals into the church” yet wish they weren’t required to face questions about their attitude. They will hope to get off the hook by saying the the CofE was at the leading edge of calls for homosexuality to be decriminalised — even if, as individuals, they opposed it fifty years ago.

At the other extreme Anglicans see any gender constraints indicative of homophobia. Catholics, like the conservative Anglian, would rather not be asked, but in general ensure that when asked, you are made aware that all Christians should be welcome in the house of God. Less tolerant views seem to be found amongst non–conformist Christians, and naturally some of the exclusive sects like Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Research at the University of Leicester last year showed interesting results. Differences in attitudes, over 30 years, have not changed between four groups: Anglicans, Catholics, other Christians (such as the non-conformist denominations and those unaffiliated) and those of no religion.

In 1983, 58% of people with no religion when asked if same–sex relationships are wrong or almost always wrong, thought that was the case. The highest group who thought it was wrong were those Christians who were neither Anglican or Catholic: 79.7%. Catholics = 74.8% and Anglicans 69.7%.

The average trend dropped for each group, so that by 2010 Christians who were neither Anglican or Catholic = 47%. Catholics = 41.2% and Anglicans 37.4%. Those of no religion who thought it wrong = 20.5%.

In Judaism, there is no ‘Pope’ to order one standard Jewish opinion, but Jewish marriage and the family is so important culturally to ensure community cohesion, that the emphasis has always been on the positive aspects of this, rather than any condemnation of something that 3000 years ago was taboo.

A group of 170 Orthodox Israeli and American rabbis, teachers, psychologists and community leaders spent ten years considering a viewpoint, which they published three years ago. They came to an official Jewish conclusion that: “All human beings are created in the image of God and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect … Embarrassing, harassing or demeaning someone with a homosexual orientation or same-sex attraction is a violation of Torah prohibitions that embody the deepest values of Judaism.”

In general polls have shown that whereas most of the population of UK and EU are in favour of same–sex civil partnerships only 46% want to see same–sex marriage and 45% oppose it.

Question 5c: What pastoral attention can be given to people who have chosen to live in these types of union?

I suppose I would expect to see evidence of what the Modern Orthodox Jews aim to achieve: “All human beings are created in the image of God and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect … Embarrassing, harassing or demeaning someone with a homosexual orientation or same–sex attraction is a violation of Torah prohibitions that embody the deepest values of Judaism.”

As we adopted the Torah as the Old Testament, the statement is valid as it stands.

Question 5d: In the case of unions of persons of the same sex who have adopted children, what can be done pastorally in light of transmitting the faith?

Emphasise that how you behave is always more important than who you live with or love.  God doesn’t discriminate by gender, so don’t put yourself above God.

Annulment may not matter to my parish priest or the Pope but lies, deceit and hypocrisy mattered a great deal to me — give me an honest divorce

4. Pastoral Care in Certain Difficult Marital Situations
a) Is cohabitation ad experimentum a pastoral reality in your particular Church? Can you approximate a percentage?

Cohabitation ad experimentum is a good example of how out of touch the Church is with its lay members. In the late 1960s to early 1980s couples who chose to live together before marriage were described by embarrassed parents and media as having entered into a ‘trial marriage’.

Nowadays many unmarried couples choose to live in ‘unmarried’ state permanently — their reasons are as varied as there are couples.

The most common domestic arrangement of this sort is between sexually active couples who have declared their temporary fidelity to one another and either through desire or expedience wish to co–habit.

The percentage is readily available from polls, censuses and the Office for National Statistics data suggests the number of people who cohabit has doubled to 2.9 million since 1996. In the same time period the choice of marriage venue shows a decrease from 50% to 30% for religious premises, the remaining 70% who do choose to marry are split 10% in register offices and 60% in other approved premises. So it seems that there are possibly a greater percentage of ‘religious’ couples who co–habit now amongst the overall numbers that have doubled.

b) Do unions which are not recognized either religiously or civilly exist? Are reliable statistics available? 


Of course they do. Step out of your door, ask the next person going by if they know of any couple who live together but are unmarried. You will not find an adult who does not know someone.

The statistics are readily available: ONS gives the number at 2.9 million.

c) Are separated couples and those divorced and remarried a pastoral reality in your particular Church? Can you approximate a percentage? How do you deal with this situation in appropriate pastoral programmes?

Yes. There numbers reflect those is society in general.

The percentage is available by interpolation of the ONS figures.
I deal with the situation by accepting that the pressure on marriage is hard: marriages last far longer than ever they used to as life expectancy was shorter — particularly for males. People live lives these days that allow them to develop and change as individuals, you may no longer have the same goals as a couple.
I am not involved with, or aware of pastoral programmes, nor do I see the necessity for any. The Church, under its current constitution cannot help. Individual priests privately do.

d) In all the above cases, how do the baptized live in this irregular situation? Are they aware of it? Are they simply indifferent? Do they feel marginalized or suffer from the impossibility of receiving the sacraments?

The baptised act as intelligent and caring beings and understand that their consciences are informed, and the Church needs to question its own collective one.

e) What questions do divorced and remarried people pose to the Church concerning the Sacraments of the Eucharist and of Reconciliation? Among those persons who find themselves in these situations, how many ask for these sacraments?

If the Catholic in this situation can live happily with her/his conscience, there is nothing to mention in Confession, they do not need to be Reconciled with anyone, there is no bar to the Eucharist. The Church is the only body that needs the Sacrament of Reconciliation: it has a need to be reconciled with the larger, lay part of itself.

f ) Could a simplification of canonical practice in recognizing a declaration of nullity of the marriage bond provide a positive contribution to solving the problems of the persons involved? If  yes, what form would it take?

Of course it would. The Church should consider the forms of annulment offered in each legislative state and agree, where appropriate that the situation that is revoked by a just legal power is recognised by itself.

It should stop the hypocrisy that I was subjected to, where the priest said that as I was young and my mother was known by him to be a bully, I had grounds for annulment. When I suggested that to make my children illegitimate was abhorrent and asked had he forgotten that my mother opposed the marriage and signed the form giving her consent as I was under 21 to say that it was in spite of her will. He replied that none of that really mattered as long as we fulfilled the Pope’s annulment criteria. I told him that it may not matter to him or the Pope but lies, deceit and hypocrisy mattered a great deal to me, that I would proceed with a civil divorce and still attend church and communion with my children — even if I re–married.Image

g) Does a ministry exist to attend to these cases? Describe this pastoral ministry? Do such programmes exist on the national and diocesan levels? How is God’s mercy proclaimed to separated couples and those divorced and remarried and how does the Church put into practice her support for them in their journey of faith?

I am not aware of a ministry to deal with these cases, just the local priest who deals with it individually and refers to the Bishop when he’s unsure, or embarrassed by the Church’s hypocrisy.

The Church is not in a position to help any couple in crisis

b) How successful have you been in proposing a manner of praying within the family which can withstand life’s complexities and today’s culture?

Very successful.

We look at what prayer actually achieves: a photographable and measurable transfer of energy that has a beneficial affect on the recipient.

We look at the nature of prayer: the need for the prayer to have the right intention; the measurable power of visualisation of the expected goal; the obligation that prayer places on the prayer; ways to remove negative influences from the prayer process.

We look at ways to support prayer: contemplation, meditation and sound. We even look at spiritual dance, sacred geometry, mandalas and the use of mantras in other belief systems.

c) In the current generational crisis, how have Christian families been able to fulfil their vocation of transmitting the faith?



By living what we believe and talking about those beliefs when asked to.

d) In what way have the local Churches and movements on family spirituality been able to create ways of acting which are exemplary?



By encouraging debate, discussion and tolerance. By showing kindness and compassion without judging. By embracing practices like meditation from other belief systems. By explaining with tolerance instead of condemning as used to happen when I was young.

e) What specific contribution can couples and families make to spreading a credible and holistic idea of the couple and the Christian family today?



By living in harmony and consideration of each other, and tolerance and compassion towards the needs and lifestyles of those in their community and beyond it that they meet. By resisting the urge to measure the success of their children by exams and certificates of achievement, but by whether they are happy. fulfilled and becoming a kinder person by what they have achieved.

f) What pastoral care has the Church provided in supporting couples in formation and couples in crisis situations?



In general, too much preaching and not enough acceptance of the couples’ decisions. 

Couples that I have known in crisis have sought a secular body to help resolve differences, because they felt that the Church would not be open–minded and objective enough. There would always be a bottom line that you were stuck together for life, so find a way to survive it, whereas the secular advisor would help them isolate the problem and would ask them all the time, what did they think they should or could do to resolve it.

The only restricting parameter, once they had reached a decision, might be ‘what solution is best for the children’.



That however is the general picture and it will vary with each individual priest that you speak to, so if you feel you have one you can confide it, you have a greater chance of success. However none has ever been able to give me a moral answer to this question. “If I marry in the church, divorce because the man I find is a child–abuser and violent, have a legal marriage with another man and bring up three happy children in a loving relationship, would the church think I should divorce him, abandon my children and return to my only legal husband in the eye’s of God?”



Until it can give a moral answer to that question, the Church is not in a position to help any couple in crisis.