A study commissioned by the Vatican says the vast majority of German and Swiss Catholics disagree with church teaching on contraception, gay unions, divorce and sexual morality, the Associated Press reports.
The survey, which was conducted to prepare for a meeting of bishops in October to discuss the family, found that even Catholics who were active in church life and found their faith important almost uniformly rejected church teaching on sex.
Pope Francis has quietly suggested a softening of Church attitudes on gay issues since his election last year. In July, he made headlines by telling reporters, “If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?”
In November, Francis told a meeting at the Vatican that Catholics must do more to understand the children of gay or separated parents.
Vatican spokesmen have stressed, however, that Catholic doctrine on sexual morality will not change. In December, the Vatican said the pope was “shocked” by a bill in Malta that would allow gay couples to adopt children.
Even as it welcomed the Vatcian’s recent attempts at increased openness, a report from the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child also condemned the Vatican for failing to protect children.
The reports states in part, “The Committee is gravely concerned that the Holy See has not acknowledged the extent of the crimes committed, has not taken the necessary measures to address cases of child sexual abuse and to protect children, and has adopted policies and practices which have led to the continuation of the abuse by and the impunity of the perpetrators.”
The UN report also called on the Vatican to reassess its teachings on contraception and sexuality and to review its approach to homosexuality.
“The Committee also urges the Holy See to make full use of its moral authority to condemn all forms of harassment, discrimination or violence against children based on their sexual orientation or the sexual orientation of their parents and to support efforts at international level for the decriminalisation of homosexuality.”
But the Holy See hit back, saying that some of the report’s conclusions reveal “an attempt to interfere with Catholic Church teaching on the dignity of human person and in the exercise of religious freedom.”