You’ve heard about it, right? The survey the Vatican has put out asking our opinion on gay marriage so that they can change their teachings on that issue if everybody is in favor of it? Because that’s how the Vatican rolls. They come up with our teachings according to public opinion. Don’t forget to fill out the survey so we can be sure the Vatican knows what we want. It is certain that the reason the Vatican has not allowed same sex marriage, contraception, cohabitation of unmarried couples, etc is because they have been unaware up until now that society has fully endorsed these things and the Catholics in the pews concur. They have been waiting for an opportunity to cave in on these issues. They need this survey to give them a credible excuse. For sure.
Heaven help us if that is what we think the Church is doing. Are we really that gullible, that uncertain, that insecure in the Church that we would make such assumptions? Or believe those who have?
The Church is facing unprecedented challenges concerning the family. They need to ascertain the most productive ways to approach, confront and overcome these challenges. They have decided the best way to assess and evaluate is to go to the diocesan and parish level. What situations are you facing and what are the attitudes about it? They are not asking our opinion in as much as determining what are they up against at the parish and diocesan level and what should be done about it.
The mission of preaching the Gospel to all creation, entrusted directly by the Lord to his disciples, has continued in the Church throughout history. The social and spiritual crisis, so evident in today’s world, is becoming a pastoral challenge in the Church’s evangelizing mission concerning the family, the vital building-block of society and the ecclesial community. Never before has proclaiming the Gospel on the Family in this context been more urgent and necessary.
These are the first few lines of the Preparatory Document (the survey). Because the first and primary mission of the Church is to spread the Gospel. So how do we do that today for the families that are supposed to be the domestic church? For the children in families where the parents are living in ways that keep them from the sacraments. Are these children then denied the sacraments and the catechism? How do we minister to "children and young people (who) will never see their parents receive the sacraments.” How do we handle the parents as well. Do we merely say “Cut it out you evil doers or you will go to hell” and just wash our hands of them until they repent? Does repentance come before the Gospel or does it come through and because of the Gospel? So how do we continue to bring them the Gospel without compromising teachings on morality or condoning certain behavior, in a way that does not “devalue the idea of permanence and faithfulness in the marriage covenant.”
It is questions like these and many others that the Church will be addressing. Same sex marriage and contraception are hot button issues but the Church will be addressing many more. The many new situations requiring the Church’s attention and pastoral care include: mixed or inter-religious marriages; the single-parent family; polygamy; marriages with the consequent problem of a dowry, sometimes understood as the purchase price of the woman; the caste system; a culture of non-commitment and a presumption that the marriage bond can be temporary; forms of feminism hostile to the Church; migration and the reformulation of the very concept of the family; relativist pluralism in the conception of marriage; the influence of the media on popular culture in its understanding of marriage and family life; underlying trends of thought in legislative proposals which devalue the idea of permanence and faithfulness in the marriage covenant; an increase in the practice of surrogate motherhood (wombs for hire); and new interpretations of what is considered a human right. Within the Church, faith in the sacramentality of marriage and the healing of the Sacrament of Penance show signs of weakness or total abandonment.
The Church is not getting ready to embrace Modernism by determining and adjusting to public opinion. They are, however, wanting to confront modern problems in the light of Catholic teaching. With an understanding as well that the people who have created these problems are also the very people most in need of the Gospel message. “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners. Mt 9:12-13