According to a new Vatican survey, the “vast majority” of Catholics in Germany and Switzerland reject the Vatican’s rules about “contraception, sexual morality, gay unions and divorce.”
The Vatican took the unusual step of commissioning the surveys ahead of a major meeting of bishops that Pope Francis has called for October to discuss family issues. The poll was sent last year to every national conference of bishops with a request to share it widely among Catholic institutions, parishes and individuals. This week, German and Swiss bishops reported the results: The church’s core teachings on sexual morals, birth control, homosexuality, marriage and divorce were rejected as unrealistic and outdated by the vast majority of Catholics, who nevertheless said they were active in parish life and considered their faith vitally important. Also surprising was the eagerness with which the bishops publicized the results. The German bishops’ conference released them simultaneously in German, Italian and English on their website, and the Swiss held a press conference.
Of particular note, survey respondents found the Vatican’s ban on contraception to be “blatantly immoral” when it comes to the use of condoms to stop HIV transmission. Several years ago, former Pope Benedict made statements regarding condoms and HIV that some interpreted as a softening of the church’s stance. But at a 2011 HIV/AIDS conference held at the Vatican, officials reiterated their opposition to all condom use.