Processen inför Katolska kyrkans familjesynod 2014-2015 är i full gång. I höstas initierade man förberedelsearbetet genom att skicka ut ett frågeformulär till alla stift med relevanta frågor kring hur väl Katolska kyrkans lära kring sexualitet och familjefrågor är förankrad och förstådd hos den katolska allmänheten och ute i samhället. Att det funnits en skriande klyfta mellan vad som officiellt lärs och hur katoliker i allmänhet ser på dessa frågor har länge varit en offentlig hemlighet. Nu får vi det svart på vitt, och att problemet nu lyfts upp till högsta officiella nivå och blir föremål för överläggningarna under biskopssynoden är mycket bra.
Nyss lämnade Tyska biskopskonferensen in sitt svar, vilka också offentliggjordes. Man tycks ha arbetat ingående med att besvara frågorna och inventerat hur läget är ute i stiften bland katolikerna på gräsrotsnivå. Hur nordiska biskopskonferensen jobbat med dessa frågor har vi hittills inte fått så mycket information om, däremot har de nordiska avdelningarna av We are Church gemensamt utarbetat ett svar som man nu sänt till sekreteraren för den kommande synoden, ärkebiskop Lorenzo Baldisseri. Svaret är på engelska och undertecknat av Kaare Ruebner Jørgensen från Danmark, Pål Kolstø från Norge och Hans Reiland från Sverige.
Svaret som är publicerat på We are Church Norges hemsida är mycket bra skrivet, det beskriver nuläget utan att vare sig försköna eller ge en nidbild, och de överväganden och rekommendationer man framför i slutet är precis sådana angelägna frågeställningar man önskar synoden skall ta tag i och allvarligt penetrera. Jag återger här några valda citat (mina markeringar):
Young people may get good information about the Church’s view on marriage through preparatory courses in their parish but an increasing number of couples do not marry in the Church. Some are happy with a civil marriage while others cohabit for quite a long time. The understanding of marriage as a sacrament is far from clear. Marriage is primarily understood as a union between two who love each other and intend to share their life in mutual fidelity.
Humanae Vitae is hardly known for anything but its rejection of the use of so-called artificial contraception. This idea is rejected in our countries (with some very few exceptions). The Church’s attitude towards sexuality, contraception and divorce is more often than not regarded as irrelevant. And the Church is often perceived as lacking in mercy and ethics. That also goes for its attitude towards homosexual marriage which is becoming more accepted by the baptized.
The celebration of marriage is a beautiful and meaningful experience that many baptized still want even if they do not quite understand the Church’s teaching on marriage as a sacrament. When non-practicing or non-believing couples ask to be married in Church we are inclined to think they should not be rejected. The celebration may be used by The Holy Spirit in ways unknown to us.
When the institutional Church speaks of the family it mostly refers to a heterosexual couple with children. But there are so many kinds of families. There are single parent families, gay and lesbian families, families where the parents are divorced and remarried, extended families and so on. All the different kinds of families can be domestic Churches and need encouragement and help from the parish. For that to happen they must be accepted and respected and included when the Church speaks about the family.
The dilemma facing the Church is that on one hand it must uphold an ideal model of family and on the other hand respect, love and include those who have chosen or been forced to live with another model of family. The evangelising Church should convey that all families, regardless of family structure or model, are called to be domestic churches.
Many parishes are at their very best when meeting people in the middle of a life crisis. It is, however, extremely difficult to understand and accept that divorced and remarried people are being banned from the Holy Communion. It causes suffering and alienation. Children with parents who may not receive the sacrament are likely to feel completely alienated from the Church.
Separated couples and divorced and remarried couples are a strong pastoral reality. Probably a third (or more) of all couples find themselves in such a situation. The number is growing. Many of them want to continue to nourish their spiritual life in the parish but many suffer from being excluded from the Communion and little by little disappear from mass and parish life. By losing the parents the Church also most probably loses their baptized children who eventually may lose their faith in God.
Some priests are aware of this situation and are offering good pastoral care. Some remarried couples and some homosexual couples take the communion but still feel marginalized and unhappy. We are not aware of any pastoral initiatives on a diocesan level to repair this situation.
It has become easier to openly live as gay or lesbian couples and there are quite a few of them in our parishes. Mostly they are not marginalized until they marry. A few have had to leave the Pastoral Council or other work in their parish after getting legally married. The Catholic lay people are still divided on this issue but the number of baptized who accept homosexual unions seem to be rapidly growing. Children of lesbian or gay parents are accepted at Catholic schools.
There is sexual education at all levels of the compulsory School system and in the media. It may be said that this education fails to anchor sexuality within a setting of long-lasting love, respect and responsibility. It therefore fosters a hedonistic attitude to sexuality.
The Church on the other hand tries to promote a view on sexuality that belongs to a long past century. It is necessary and urgent that the Magistrate of the Church starts working on this problem. Modern anthropology and psychology together with other sciences can contribute with important insights and impulses in such a process. It also is of the outmost importance that baptized with real life experiences with sexuality and different kinds of family life take part in a process of developing a new attitude towards body and sexuality in the Church. The numerous sexual scandals in the Church have minimized the credibility of the institutional Church on these issues.
A crisis of faith may be destructive as well as constructive. Love, honesty, humility and mutual respect are prerequisites for working one’s way through difficulties and for the development and growth in faith both in the person and in the family.
We believe that the Church needs to make a bridge between an idealised view on sexuality, marriage and family and the experiences of Christian families to-day. It is urgent to take into account human experiences.
We also believe that there is a need for a rethinking of Christian anthropology in light of the knowledge that has appeared in modern biology, psychology, studies of gender, biology and other sciences and that there is a need for a revised view on sexuality.
We believe that the Holy Communion should never be used as something that is perceived as a punishment but always as a gift of God to those who seek him, in success or in failure.
The notion of family has changed over thousands of years. In biblical times it encompassed the entire household. In the last century it referred to the core family. Today other forms and structure appear. As Church we must deal with the variety of family structures found in different cultures. Any family can be a domestic church and be part of the evangelizing body of Christ.
Att kommunikationen är så öppen mellan Vatikanen och biskopskonferenserna, Vatikanen ställer öppna frågor som man publicera offentligt och som också lekmän kan svara på, Biskopskonferenser publicerar sin kommunikation med Vatikanen offentligt och det sker via sociala media en levande dialog. Allt detta signalerar en ny era för kyrkan där en äldre klerikal struktur sakta förändras till en struktur där Kyrkan som Guds folk är en gemenskap av alla döpta, och med ett nära samarbete mellan lekmän och präster. Det är Andra Vatikankonciliets vision som sakta men säkert håller på att förverkligas.