According to an Associated Press (AP) report, Pope Francis is seeking for an open dialogue that is “sincere, open, and fraternal” about a wide range of divisive issues in the church.
Some of these issues include:
Role of women in the church
The report says Francis indicated that he wants bishops to listen to what the people of God are saying and then engage in a “sincere, open, and fraternal” debate that will respond to the “epochal changes” that families are living through today.
Furthermore, the report says Francis in a 39-point questionnaire invited input from ordinary Catholics about their acceptance of church teachings on a range of different issues related to Catholic family life.
The survey found that a large number of Catholics have rejected the church’s teaching on sex and contraception. The feedback also includes a call for the church to develop a pastoral plan to accommodate gays in civil unions as well as children being raised in such families.
In addition, the reports says that church reform groups viewed such honest responses as reason to hope that under Francis a meeting of bishops might yield some change if only for the fact that Francis has asked bishops to honestly speak their minds.
The report quotes Miriam Duignan of the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research, a progressive British think tank as saying, “If all Francis manages to do is encourage bishops to speak out and to say what they really think, then he will start a revolution almost by accident.”
She insisted, according to the report, that most bishops don’t really want to preach that artificial contraception is morally indefensible or that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered,” as church teaching holds.
“Whether it starts with priestly celibacy or attitudes toward homosexuality or birth control: Once you admit that your teaching was flawed, that it was based on flimsy premises and that you were wrong, we can start the conversation,” she added.
The report further states that while conservative groups say there is indeed a risk that the synod will result in merely sowing confusion over church teaching about sex and marriage, prelates participating in the synod are intent on reinforcing doctrine, not changing it.
“The synod is not meeting to create some new teaching in the church or to break with that tradition,” the hard-line American Cardinal Raymond Burke told reporters this week. Rather, he said, the meeting is designed to “hold true to it … underline it’s important for our present time, and I hope that’s what’s going to happen.”
While the debate may set a tug-of-war between progressive and conservative within the Catholic church, some Protestants are already citing 2 Thess:2:3 which states, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.”
Protestants, for the most part, take a strong stance against homosexuality, pre-marital sex, and abortion.
Davy Desmond, Readers Bureau, Senior Fellow
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