Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Optional Celibacy, SI!

The Spanish Catholic magazine, 21rs, which last year did a comprehensive opinion survey of priests in Spain, this year turned its attention to the views of Catholic laity who are involved in church ministry. It found, among other things, that two-thirds of the 815 laypersons surveyed favor optional celibacy for their priests and 49.4% support women's ordination (two-thirds in the case of younger respondents).

Although one-third were unfamiliar with Vatican II and 4 out of 10 thought the process had largely been halted within the Church, 40% thought that priests and laypeople act with shared and equal responsibility. Another third believe they have a lot of autonomy in their areas of responsibility even though the priest has the final word. A slightly smaller group would like to have more responsibility without having to depend on priests.

As far as the hierarchy is concerned, only one in 5 of these committed laypeople felt that directives from the bishops were necessary and tried to follow them. On moral questions, they generally viewed pronouncements from their bishops as informative but not binding, preferring to follow their own conscience.

Finally, most respondents, but especially the youth, would like to see a Church that is more committed to the poor and more open to dialogue. And that is very good news indeed!

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