|Controversial Core Document of the Swiss Bishops in|
(Zurich) Cristina Vonzun, editor of the daily newspaper Giornale del Popolo for Italian-speaking Switzerland, told the Catholic weekly magazine Tempi, why there is a gap between what the majority of Swiss Catholics think and what the magisterium says. The daily newspaper 51 percent the property of the Diocese of Lugano.
"The exclusion of remarried divorcees from the sacraments must cease"; "The sponsorship of gays and lesbians must be possible in the Church"; "The Holy Family is by no means an ideal example", such similar and the like are the opinions of Swiss Catholics, mainly German-speaking Catholics have reached the ear of the media. 6,000 have participated in numerous dialogue sessions in preparation for the Synod of Bishops in the autumn.
The occasion was the questionnaire, which was sent by the Synod Secretariat to all Bishops' Conferences. The Swiss Bishops' Conference handed it on to all the faithful in order to obtain the "widest possible" mood. The procedure is not without controversy. Among the participants were many church functionaries who often informed the discussion. Faithful Catholics have been marginalized for decades and stay away from official church activities.
Controversial Pastoral Sociological Institute Authored Core Document of the Swiss Bishops' Conference for Synod
In total 570 submissions were received, which were summarized in a "core document", which was transmitted by the Episcopal Conference to the Vatican. This corresponds to the Synod of Bishops in 2014.
In 2014 the Swiss Pastoral Sociological Institute (SPI) of the Swiss Bishops' Conference got in the headlines. Philip Good, deputy chief editor of the Weltwoche accused the Institute of having distorted the Vatican's survey by tendentious questions "in a political statement against the official Vatican doctrine." SPI questions were suggestively reformulated and additional questions for acceptance of homosexuality and other issues were arbitrarily inserted in open contradiction to the Catholic marriage and morality. The Bishop of Chur, Vitus Huonder, then addressed the Core Document of the Bishops' Conference earlier by publishing a document on his own, which significantly differed from the Core Document. Despite the allegation of manipulation, the Bishops' Conference retained SPI and has commissioned it in 2015 again to write the Swiss unit report to Rome. The result was actually clear from the beginning.
The Swiss Pastoral Sociological Institute has its seat in the diocese of Sankt Gallen, whose Bishop is Markus Büchel, President of the Swiss Bishops' Conference.
38 percent, the majority of Swiss are Roman Catholic. 26 percent are reformed, 22 percent are no religion, 6 percent belong to other Christian denominations, 5 percent are Muslims, 1 percent belong to other religions, 0.25 percent are Jewish, 2 percent offered no details in the 2013 census of the Federal Statistical Office.
"Protestant Influence and Decades of Secularisation"
The majority of the Swiss population is still Catholic. But if you read the report of the Episcopal Conference, there seems to be a Catholicism that is very different from the one that is taught in the Catechism.
The report speaks mainly of "wider appreciation, enjoying the ideals of marriage proclaimed by the Church of marriage and family". However, he also emphasized that there are "limits in the implementation".
But there are significant differences between the Swiss document and the Magisterium of the Church to almost all thorny issues which are dealt with by the Synod.
On various issues, the gap is clearly visible, but this is not an exclusive phenomenon of Switzerland. This applies to the entirety of central and northern European Catholicism.
What are the reasons in Switzerland?
Over the years, the phenomenon has developed mainly north of the Alps. I think that the Protestant influence felt here, for example, where the Reformed Church's Canton approves the blessing of homosexual couples. But the main problem is that decades of secularization that lead to this gap between the believed Catholic values, the practical life and to the privatization of faith. The faith is not recognized as a real thing, but only on a personal level. A third motive is the increasing pressure on the family and which may lead to a failure of a marriage.
The present socio-economic conditions, including the intense working hours, put family living in distress and complicate married life. Especially if the couples are alone and have no one who shows them a path of faith.
The consequences can then be read in the report of the Episcopal Conference.
Yes, if it has to be said, then the report came about in a special way. These are the opinions of about 6,000 Catholic men and women. In Switzerland, there are three million Catholics. The are no surveys that accurately reflect the views of the Swiss Catholics.
Are you saying that it was poorly done?
I think it reflects the trend of what the majority of Swiss Catholics think, especially German-speaking Switzerland. But it is not a real survey, but a free questionnaire. Whoever wants, participates. Many did not take part and so we do not know their opinion and they will never know. The document is, however, which can not be denied, the prevailing view again, which is why its publication has caused no particular reactions. This is the majority tendency, but by no means the only one. There are many Catholics who live the ideal of marriage entirely. The truth is that Switzerland is very complex.
What does that mean?
There are different linguistic and cultural realities. This report is primarily the reality of German-speaking Switzerland again, less those of Welsch Switzerland and Italian-speaking Switzerland. Here in Ticino, for example, the tendency is clearly another.
Why can you say that?
The Giornale del Popolo has evaluated a wide range of responses from Ticino Catholics and has additionally not found a trace of a demanding tone of voice or of opinions which would be contrary to the Church's magisterium. The focus of the answers are very different: the concern for couples who live alone in their surroundings without the possibility of living in common in the faith; even the question of how relations between older and younger families can be effected.
And the question of admission of remarried divorcees to the sacraments?
Also, there are no clear demand. The divorcees who have responded to the questionnaire said that they are going on a journey of faith in the Church and feel comfortable in their parishes. Regarding the communion for divorced and remarried, some expressed hope that the Synod could allow for a personalized way of penance approved by the Bishop for individual cases. In this respect, it much resembles the proposal of Cardinal Kasper.
Do the Swiss bishops think like the majority of their faithful?
The document was not written by the bishops, but are a sociological reading by the Swiss Pastoral Sociological Institute in St. Gallen (SPI) again. Our bishops think like bishops loyal to the pope, to the Magisterium and on the way to the synod.
Introduction: Giuseppe Nardi
Interview: Tempi / translation: Giuseppe Nardi
Image: Tempi / Wikicommons
Interview: Tempi / translation: Giuseppe Nardi
Image: Tempi / Wikicommons
Trans: Tancred email@example.com