Catholics differ with church on teachings

Over 67 per cent follow conscience on contraception

Priests’ association surveys Irish Catholics’ attitudes to church teaching. Photograph: Getty Images

Priests’ association surveys Irish Catholics’ attitudes to church teaching. Photograph: Getty Images

Tue, Feb 11, 2014, 01:00


A survey by the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) of attitudes to church teaching among Irish Catholics has found just 5 per cent believe teaching on contraception is “completely accepted”.

It also finds two-thirds of those Catholics who responded believe dioceses are “negative” towards same-sex couples.

The ACP survey was a version of the Vatican survey on family life, initiated towards the end of last year in anticipation of the Vatican’s extraordinary synod on the family next October.

The ACP survey was hosted on its website, with 1,500 taking part, including priests, religious, lay people, parents and teachers.

Two-thirds of those who answered the particular question considered dioceses to be “negative” or “hostile and condemning” towards same- sex couples, while 11 per cent said they were “somewhat” or “highly” supportive.

Small faith communities were rated as being more supportive to such couples than parishes, which were, in turn, rated as being more supportive than dioceses.

Asked about marriage equality, 47 per cent of respondents considered it “extremely” or “very important” while a further 23 per cent considered it “somewhat important”. Eighteen per cent considered it “not at all important”.

Of those who responded, 69 per cent believed church teaching banning artificial means of contraception to be “not accepted”, while 31 per cent believed it to be “accepted in part”. Just 5 per cent said it was “completely accepted”. When it came to the availability of contraception, 76 per cent considered this “extremely” or “somewhat” important to themselves or to their community.

Just 9 per cent of respondents “fully support the church’s teaching on family planning and use only methods approved by the church”.

Where church teaching on the family was concerned, 73 per cent said it was “poorly understood”.

When it came to cohabitation, 98 per cent considered it “a pastoral reality”, while 89 per cent said this was also the case when it came to separated and/or divorced and/or remarried couples.

Commenting on the survey, the ACP said its key findings were that church teaching on family life, sexual practice and sexual unions were “little understood, not relevant, of low influence, and not agreed with whether understood or not.

“These findings are consistent across all age groups and religious role (clergy, lay, etc) where identified.”

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