The feedback from Roman Catholic laity around the world in advance of a meeting between the College of Cardinals and Pope Francis indicate that there is wide and growing gap between the experience of laity in the living of their faith and the example and teaching of the church heirarchy. In particular there is a growing chasm over issues such as contraception, cohabitation, gay marriage and whether divorced and remarried Catholics can receive Communion.
Francis wanted the entire College of Cardinals to have a chance to talk about the controversial themes, which are to be discussed at greater length this fall at a landmark Vatican meeting of many of the world’s bishops.
But Francis also asked the hierarchy in each nation to provide feedback ahead of time about the attitude of their flocks; the blunt responses so far have already made public the sort of views that many church leaders would prefer to ignore or only speak about privately.
“There is a big gap between the Vatican and reality,” the Japanese bishops wrote in a frank assessment,published on Wednesday, of the views of their flock on contraception and related topics.
And the church is not helping matters, they added: “Often when Church leaders cannot present convincing reasons for what they say, they call it ‘natural law’ and demand obedience on their say-so,” the bishops wrote.