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COUNCIL OF THE BAPTIZED

LISTENING SESSION RESPONSES

MARCH – SEPTEMBER 2015

Pope Francis is asking to hear from all Catholics on the issues around sexuality, marriage, and family. Please take a few moments to reflect on your experience of official Church teaching and practices in these areas. This could be your own personal experience or your witness of someone you care about. We will gather all responses and send them to the US bishops attending the Synod on the Family in Rome, Oct 2015.

Demographic Info:

            Gender___      Age_____       Relationship status________________________________

Church status (lay, priest, religious, non-practicing, etc)___________________________

  1. Describe what constitutes a family.

  2. At the upcoming Synod on the Family, the bishops will discuss issues such as divorce and remarriage, cohabitation, contraception, and same sex attraction. In what ways do you experience or witness official Church teachings or practices in these areas

    1. As being supportive to families?

    2. As hindering or hurting families?

  3. Are there other issues of Church teachings or practices around sexuality, marriage, or family that have affected you or ones you care about? Please describe.

  4. Has this affected your (or their) relationship with the Catholic Church? In what way?

  5. What message do you want to send to the Synod?
 

 

Demographic Info: Male, age 73, married, lay Catholic                                           #1

1) What constitutes a family: A family is a parent or, hopefully, two committed to the care of one another as well as of children or elders within the unit.

2) Church supports or hinders:

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops: (1) I want us as church to bless all sexual orientations as coming from God. I want to encourage commitment in relationships between partners. (2) I want us to welcome the divorced and remarried fully back into the community—encouraging them to forgive what needs to be forgiven and to acknowledge what we might have done wrong. (3) I want to encourage couples to form their own consciences and to decide together what sexual expression is right for them.

Demographic Info: Female, age 76, single, lay Catholic                                          #2

1) What constitutes a family: Either parents, children and siblings or close friends.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a) supportive most of the time. (b) hinders on divorce & remarriage, contraception.

3) Other issues: Most people no longer follow Church teachings. Cohabitation is common. Contraception should be up to the couples not the Church.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: None since I am not dating. However, if I was dating, I’m not sure what I would do.

5) Message to bishops: Do we have any more Church rules? What about using our own consciences?

Demographic Info: Male age 68, married 43 years. Lay Catholic                            #3

1) What constitutes a family: All who consider themselves related by physical, mental or spiritual means.

2) Church supports or hinders: Official church teachings and practices are all non-supportive by the nature of their deviation from the Gospel message of a loving God present in each member of the Body.

3) Other issues: I care about the Gospel message of a new creation and the Eucharist being for all baptized members and welcoming to every human being.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: This disregard for everyone being within the One Body of Christ has greatly affected me as I have been asked to not include my fellow human beings.

5) Message to bishops: I particularly want the Synod to address the acknowledgment and support of all people in this world being a part of the Body of Christ. I furthermore want the Synod to address the inclusiveness of ordained priests and the training they receive and support for each person’s sexuality. I also want sexuality to be forever supported, talked about, and blessed as a gift of the Holy Spirit.

We are all One Body—Live it and Love it.

Demographic Info: Female age 75, single/widowed, lay Catholic                           #4

1) What constitutes a family: two people who love each other and want to make their lives together in familial community with or without children. May or may not be churched.

2) Church supports or hinders: (1) Divorce should be recognized by our Catholic Church and perhaps ceremony for leaving. Can take sacraments and be in community. (2) Remarriage OK – blessed by Church. (3) Cohabitation: many are doing this. I don’t know the on-going success of it in terms of staying together or children’s sense of it. (4) Contraception: should be OK to practice. Cannot judge others’ reasons for having or not having children. (5) Same sex OK, ie: can be supportive of families.

Marriage, cohabitation – all these questions should be held as holy and sacred by society.

3) Other issues: I do not like abortion, but women are the ones who suffer most from it. Males are not (mostly) taught to respect, control sexuality, and reason for it.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes, I don’t agree with hierarchical positions on above – marginalized people, women, children. I say what I believe and try to do so respectfully.

5) Message to bishops: Listen to us – Talk to us – Have us come together to talk sincerely about our doubts, faith, values. We can do this in Christ’s love.

Demographic Info: Male age 70, married, practicing lay Catholic                           #5

1) What constitutes a family: More than the traditional nuclear family; we need to define the entire extended family as family. I not only have children, but grandchildren, siblings, parents, in-laws, nieces, nephews & grandparents. The Church concentrates on nuclear as if stuck with the holy family concept. We need theology of family to elucidate children leaving home, having jobs & careers, getting married, having children, in-laws, changing geographical locales, etc. The historically Christian, first world countries are seeing a diminishing role of families and a concurrent diminishment of the Church. It’s not about having more children but about having a larger theology of family.

2) Church supports or hinders: The church has one answer – NO. The official church neither teaches nor practices the basic premise of Christianity – love. We encourage marriage but not remarriage. Then we reject cohabitation. Contraception is wrong for unmarried clergy. Same sex, a natural experience, must be bad even if it is given by God and blessed by the Holy Spirit.

3) Other issues: The Church does not support Catholic families – the families support the church. Generations ago we had Catholic schools which encompassed support – and look now. Sexuality is always NO, even in marriage. There is a perverted sexual obsession within the teaching church. Sin is almost synonymous with sex.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I ignore church teaching since once you question some things like sexuality, family, etc, I question all as well as the teachers.

5) Message to bishops: The church cannot have a legitimate synod on the issue of family, sexuality, etc without the equal participation of woman and married members (both men and women). Regarding these issues, the Holy Spirit speaks to those living out marriage, family, sexuality, etc on a daily basis, not just for a “timely synod.”

Demographic Info: Female age 64, married 41 years, lay Catholic, active in our parish      #6

1) What constitutes a family: One or more loving adults dedicated to raising children. There is a strong sense of belonging in a family unit and comfort, freedom to be oneself and love for all. Healthy families make room for each other’s “differentness.”

2) Church supports or hinders: The church hinders: (1) Many friends have gay, adult children and there is terrible discrimination against their gender orientation, which we believe is God given. (2) Remarried, divorced friends have felt enormous pain at being denied communion. (3) Most of our friends’ adult children are not marrying in the church, because the teachings about sexuality and contraception are irrelevant to them. (4) The majority of people we know in long term marriages disagree with church teaching on artificial contraception/sterilization.

3) Other issues: My dear friend is lesbian. She and her partner have a 15 year old daughter, Ellie. We are Ellie’s godparents. It was very sad for us that she could not be baptized in the Catholic Church. They had it at an Episcopal Church.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I still appreciate a lot in my Catholic faith, but find the teaching about families, sexuality and sexual orientation wrong, unscientific, unhealthy and ironically sad in view of how much the “Humanae Vitae” theology of the body wants us to treasure our sexuality.

5) Message to bishops: Our bishops and hierarchy: Please realize that you are only one half of God’s creation – the male experience. You do not know what you cannot know - the female perspective. Our church teaching will not be healthy until women make the decisions with you. I believe that is what God will truly bless.

Demographic Info: Female age 67, married, practicing Catholic                                         #7

1) What constitutes a family: While a family is certainly a mother, father, and children (my experience), it is more than that. It can be any two people committed to each other in a loving relationship. It includes adoptees and their adoptive parents and sometimes their biological parents as well.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: Church supports) At least in our parish, faith formation is considered the parent’s responsibility. Therefore we teach parents how to educate their children regarding first communion, penance, and other sacraments. (b: Church hinders) church teaching is just not clear to divorced persons. There are many misconceptions about the ability to receive sacraments, obtain annulments, etc. There is no support to parents of gay children – indeed quite the opposite in this parish. Here too, adopted children are considered less favorably than biological.

3) Other issues: Frankly, I have relied on my own conscience after prayerfully considering church teaching and sometimes finding it irrelevant and antithetical to Jesus’ clear directive to love one another as he loves us. A pastor we had in the 1970s taught us that the living church is often ahead of the teaching church. He said this when giving us the official teaching regarding contraception, but it is as relevant a pronouncement today as it was 40 years ago.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Has not affected me personally because I have always kept my focus on what is really important. But I am so sad for those who have felt detached and disassociated from the church I love, because they have taken to heart the official teachings on contraception, same sex attraction, remarriage after a sacramental marriage, etc.

5) Message to bishops: Be certain that you have heard from both those who agree with current church teaching and those who don’t. Remember that no one has the whole truth but everyone has a piece of it.

Demographic Info: female age 62, divorced, active Catholic                                              #8

1) What constitutes a family: a group of two or more who self-identify as a family.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a – Church support) Very little! (b – church hindering) Teaching focuses on prohibitions instead of feeding the soul. Divorced and remarried people cannot receive sacraments. As a result my sister cohabitates instead of remarrying. This is not the most stable environment for her daughter. My gay cousin has left the family rather than face rejection from the religious family members.

3) Other issues: Denial of Holy Orders to women has caused me to feel second class in the church since I was five years old. Celibate men have no real grasp of how to deal with a mother suffering abuse.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I’m still an active Catholic and practicing. I simply ignore the unjust teachings and follow my informed conscience as Vatican II instructs.

5) Message to bishops: (1) Include all who come for sacraments: divorced/remarried, co-habitating, LGBT, and everyone! (2) Include women in all roles in the church and in leadership. Have a council of women advisors to the pope and to each bishop.

Demographic Info: Male age 68, married, lay Catholic                                                        #9

1) What constitutes a family: A group, traditionally a man and a woman who are committed to each other and the group. Children may be present. That group may be part of a larger group affiliated by blood. The important characteristic is the solemn commitment. Now the family may include committed same sex couples; while legal status is important, a sacramental blessing is desirable.

2) Church supports or hinders: Yes and No. In individual parishes, the tenor may be supportive. Hierarchically, however, the church is non-supportive unless the “family” meets a strict doctrinal definition, which definition does not compute with reality or love.

3) Other issues: The refusal to recognize same sex relationships. The obtuse and overly complex annulment process which is designed, it seems, to thwart legitimate efforts to annul marriages. Withholding of communion to anyone who does not meet the aforesaid strict definition.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Luckily, I have been a member of parishes who do not, in practice, follow the strict line. Were I to find myself in a strict parish, I would no doubt not attend.

5) Message to bishops: Dogma and doctrine based on ancient male dominated cultures ignores the reality of human existence and forms a weak foundation for a loving church. It ignores scientific advance of knowledge in the fields of medicine, genetics, psychology and should be discarded in favor of modern knowledge. Remember, the Earth revolves around the sun, not vice versa.

Demographic Info: Female age 52, married, lay, no longer practicing in Catholic Church  #10

1) What constitutes a family: People who are in loving, committed relationships (living together as family), who love and support one another through good times and difficult. That is not defined by a unit consisting of a mom and a dad and children, but of any loving committed couple, single parent and any children they may be raising.

2) Church supports or hinders: The intolerance by the church of same-sex relationships has been extremely hurtful to many people. As the parent of a gay child, I could no longer sit in the pews as a member of a church that considered by child as being “disordered” rather than created in the likeness of God, as all human beings are. If my child was not welcome, then what kind of parent would I be to condone that rejection of him by the church? I had to walk away and join a church community that equally valued all people regardless of sexual preference.

3) Other issues: In addition, I have had family members who have felt ostracized by the church for being divorced, which has caused great pain in their lives.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: As noted in my previous response: I grew up in a deeply Irish Catholic family and had a great love of God, my faith, and the church from a very young age. But I had to walk away when my church not only rejected my child as God created him, but openly campaigned against his right to marry the person he loved.

5) Message to bishops: As you reflect and pray on what it means to be a family, and on the issues of sexuality and identity that surround that question, keep Jesus’ message about love at the center. Intolerance, divisiveness, and labeling have no place in Christ’s message to us about the love of God in whose image all of us are created.

Demographic Info: female age 72, single, religious                                                              #11

1) What constitutes a family: A family is a unit of people living together in a loving relationship, supporting each other to grow and love. Such a unit could be in an extended relationship also called family and are part of the larger community of people.

2) Church supports or hinders: The Catholic Church supports the traditional family, but fails to recognize other true families and actually puts barriers and causes pain in Catholics who have a family not in the definition the Church wants to impose on them. To me, this limits God’s work on earth and harms many. Divorced people need the sacraments and to be embraced by the Church in loving ways. Contraception is necessary in many people’s lives and to me is not a sin. Same sex attraction and love is as normal as heterosexual attraction and love. God loves diversity. I hope the Church will grow to see that Jesus’ compassion and love should cover all people and not in a blaming way.

3) Other issues: All of the above issues are realities in our society, and this has been so for centuries. I think the Church has to immerse itself in reality and embrace all in a loving way.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I have to disagree with the church because I want us to be open to all. The Church is not the judge of people. All my nephews have cohabitated before marriage and have gone on to marry and live within the Church.

5) Message to bishops: My message for the synod is to become more pastoral by urging the clergy not to judge but to accept each one as he/she is and enfold them in the flock. What would Jesus do? That should be our model. I support all people to go where they find life.

Demographic Info: Male age 76, married, communicant                                                     #12

1) What constitutes a family: Husband and wife and/or husband, wife and children

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) in a conservative sense. (b:hinders) in a liberal view.

3) Other issues: I think women should be allowed to be priests and allowed to be married as well as priests now be allowed to be married.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Many priests have left the church over the issue of celibacy, leaving a great void and unsatisfied need.

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Male 74, married, non-practicing                                                          #13

1) What constitutes a family: Persons who live together and/or share some degree of mutual dependence or responsibility for each other’s support.

2) Church supports or hinders: (b: hinders) Many Catholics live in these various relationships/practices who are regarded as unwanted by the Church.

3) Other issues: Divorce and contraception are major issues for those I know causing them to ignore Church rules usually causing them to give up on the Church.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Not allowing ordination of women and marriage by priests will destroy the Church or not allow the church recruitment of best persons.

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Male age 74, married, lay practicing Catholic                                       #14

1) What constitutes a family: Two adults who have a formal (legal) marriage contract (or seek one now). They may or may not have children (their own, adopted, foster) and may have an “extended” family with grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. They live together or are separated (legal or logistics) nevertheless still function as a family.

2) Church supports or hinders: Clearly has not been supportive of non-traditional families, and has obstructed, harmed, or promoted confusion about unions that has caused fragmentation of society.

3) Other issues: Primarily the Church’s views of gays as defective has caused almost total exodus from the Church in our family. Contraception is probably equally out of touch with reality, but ignored by all. The criminal sexual conduct of priests and widespread complicity and obstruction of justice has a global negative effect, not just our family. Hypocrisy, obstruction of justice (felony) by leaders – and finally bankruptcy.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: See above on how our family is unable to consider the church seriously because of “defective” view of gays.

I remain involved only to try to improve the situation and for social justice work of Church.

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Female age 75, married, lay Catholic                                                    #15

1) What constitutes a family: Description of a family has changed dramatically over the past 20 years. A great percentage never marry, many marriages end in divorce, many families have two mothers or two fathers. I do not know what constitutes a family today.

2) Church supports or hinders: b: the Church hinders families

3) Other issues: Yes, annulment took two years because groom was married previously to a drug addict, non-baptized Christian.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: They did not get married in the Catholic Church.

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Female age 69, married, non-practicing                                    #16

1) What constitutes a family: People who consider themselves a family. Not always genetically related but dedicated to caring emotionally, physically etc for each other.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) Being there! Being supportive, non-judgmental, ,understanding. (b: hinders) Holding strict judgments. Not being open to all who have faith. Being too rigid.

3) Other issues: No.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes and no. Not so devoted as in the past.

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Female age 72, married, lay Catholic                                                    #17

1) What constitutes a family: A family is a number of people committed to each other and living together. Still those who live alone and/or who are single are also part of families.

2) Church supports or hinders: The Church’s statements on homosexuality are ill-informed about biology and they have hurt many people, even torn families apart. The Church’s position on artificial contraception is also ill founded. A 90 year old Catholic obstetrician, facing death, told me that he feels guilty about the counsel he gave married couples saying that contraception was sinful. The Church has not been supportive on these issues, though many priests have been.

3) Other issues: My children have little respect for the church because of the positions they take on sexuality. Therefore they refuse to call themselves Catholic.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: The Church’s stance on artificial contraception and homosexuality incenses me. The bishops say they speak for the Church but they don’t speak for me or for millions of other Catholics. I am also angry about the bishops claim of religious liberty in refusing to sign a letter addressed to insurance companies allowing the insureds who work in Catholic universities and hospitals to qualify for contraception coverage.

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Female age 79, religious                                                                        #18

1) What constitutes a family: Two or more individuals who are willing and able to love one another with faithful commitment, hope, and sacrifice, joy and understanding.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) not always. (b: hinders) Only families who allow church teaching to be harmful to the stability of the family

3) Other issues: Sometimes it seems heavy burdens are imposed and not a finger is lifted to support those who are harmed…

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Truthfully – I don’t pay much attention to the pontifical statements…However often I have been pleasantly surprised.

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Female age 73, single, religious                                                 #19

1) What constitutes a family: Group of people committed to each other in loving relationship and having mutual responsibility to each other.

2) Church supports or hinders: Teachings on homosexuality, a denial of the essential goodness and wholeness of all persons, a denial of the need for intimacy.

3) Other issues: Exclusion of women as equals in the life of the church – in ministry, in decision making, etc.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Loss of credibility of church teachers. Nieces and nephews no longer connected to Church. I no longer accept the hierarchical structure of the church and its operation as a closed system.

5) Message to bishops: Be open to the experience of those who have experienced the issues/questions/situations about which you feel you need to teach. Trust the work of the Spirit in them.

Demographic Info: Female age 66, single, religious                                                 #20

1) What constitutes a family: Person in a loving relationship with either father, mother and children or two mothers and children, or two fathers and children.

2) Church supports or hinders: I believe that these issues hinder families and also hurt families. To not accept remarried people, not let divorced people be full members of the Church. Accepting LGBTQ people in the Church, accepting same sex relationship or married people. Jesus would not let this happen in his church.

3) Other issues: The firing of a person who is in a same sex relationship who is a teacher or person working in a parish setting. Also the exclusion of women from high levels of the Church.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes these issues affect most people in Catholic communities.

5) Message to bishops: I would like to see the Church be a welcoming church and not a church that doesn’t welcome or accept all people. Let all God’s people be accepted with love and warmth.

Demographic Info: Female age 66, single                                                                            #21

1) What constitutes a family: People who share a commitment to each other – a responsibility to and for one another – all kinds of configurations. These groupings are not “wounded.”

2) Church supports or hinders: (b: hinders/hurts) Church teachings (all the aforementioned) come across as intellectual constructs – utterly disembodied and unrelated to people’s lives and circumstances or to science. Church teachings/practices regarding women are morally reprehensible.

3) Other issues: (1) The exclusion of women from priesthood / positions of authority with the church is simply wrong. How can this exclusivity dare claim it has a divine source? (2) The Roman Catholic priesthood needs review/revision – a bit of openness to Spirit. (3) The firing of gay people from Catholic institutions.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: When our archdiocese spent well over $1 million to support the marriage amendment, I was horrified. All that money/energy to deny people human rights. I could no longer associate with such an institution. The Vatican investigation of American sisters was way over the top.

5) Message to bishops: Oh, institutional Church! Listen to those on the edges of the Church – the divorced/remarried, LGBT, women. Listen to the faithful. Include. Start over.

Demographic Info: Female age 74, single, religious                                                 #22

1) What constitutes a family: Two or more people who live together for a time (roots and wings), form a bond of love and commitment and care for the well-being of the whole. They live these values in their societal choices and commitments.

2) Church supports or hinders: Basically unsupportive. If one is fortunate, they can find individual priests or an occasional parish that is supportive. Those priests and parishes, however, are generally on a blacklist. This breaks up families when some members are the letter of the law. Judgments are made and are disruptive.

3) Other issues: Yes: contraception, no access to sacraments of divorced or cohabitating with either a same sex or opposite sex person.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Many I know who have been judged generally decide to live their faith outside an institution. They consider nature and community of like-minded their “church.” A strong few are able to not let the institutional righteousness cause them to leave a church they value.

5) Message to bishops: Establish a framework acknowledging the inclusiveness of all people as made in the image and likeness of God, reflecting God’s goodness through the various lenses and choices of their lives. All families are whole – no scale. All are welcome in this Church.

Demographic Info: Female age 75, single, religious                                                 #23

1) What constitutes a family: Family consists of persons who are in a loving relationship with one another, who have “thrown their lot in” with one another, who are willing to weather the storms of life with one another. The family unit may be a heterosexual or homosexual couple with or without children or a single parent raising children. Extended family supports family units with the “clan.”

2) Church supports or hinders: The Church teaching has a monolithic understanding of family – mom/dad/kids – since the Church teaches that marriage’s primary purpose is procreation. It supports these families and ignores the gay/lesbian couple in a loving relationship who may or may not have welcomed children into their relationship. It is up to an individual pastor’s pastoral approach to recognize/welcome “non-traditional” families to full participation in the Church.

3) Other issues: The desire of a gay man to be ordained in the Catholic Church and being refused entrance into the seminary based solely on the fact that he is gay.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: My two gay nephews see the Church as hypocritical – especially in the cover-up of priest’s sexual abuse. They are deeply spiritual men and have found other churches and ways to nurture their spirituality. One of these men and his partner has recently adopted a 15 year old who had been abandoned and abused in other settings. Isn’t this what Jesus teaches?

5) Message to bishops: Look at the life of Jesus as reflected in the Gospel. He was a man who was in relationship with others, whose love of his God was the prevailing force in his life. Why has our Church turned its back on those who struggle? Why has our Church marginalized people and made them “the exception” rather than embracing the marginalized? It’s time to change directions and put people, not rules, first.

Demographic Info: Male age 74, married, practicing Catholic man, very challenging         #24

1) What constitutes a family: A couple or a single parent that has children or a commitment to children (nieces), extended family that tends and needs contact, attachment and security in the love and support of the group.

2) Church supports or hinders: There is discrimination against “non-traditional” families that is unnecessary and destructive.

3) Other issues: Sexual preference is entirely biological and personal with convincing evidence to support this choice. We should embrace this and help with safety and respect for others in all sexual development.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I love and respect the church and my teachers who have given me so much wisdom and preparation for my professional life. I am shocked and feel it is absolutely necessary to repair the mistakes the Church has made.

5) Message to bishops: Please review your teachings on sexuality and relationships with help and consultation from capable professionals that can reform these regressive and often destructive teachings.

Demographic Info: Female age 82, practicing Catholic, Religious                                      #25

1) What constitutes a family: A group that sees the relationships within it as their primary support. They work for the good of each other and do what they are able to help each other be the best, most developed individuals they can be, feel responsible for each other. They love each other.

2) Church supports or hinders: I do not find Church traditional teaching as being supportive to families. Contraception erects barriers to the expression of true caring for each other. It’s a disruptor of true relationship. Remarriage is a decision of the persons who love each other, and its aim is for the growth and relationship of a couple and the children they support.

3) Other issues: I have a niece who has no relationship with the Church because she and her now husband were not allowed to marry in the Church because they had been cohabitating. Their child was not allowed to be baptized. Another niece is lesbian and feels that she is not welcome in the Catholic Church.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Already said above. Consequently my family can’t share a membership in Church.

5) Message to bishops: Please find ways for the Church to learn to accept and nourish all its members to live in hope and love within families and to realize that strong nucleus of family, in the strength of its love, grows by accepting and not judging others.

Demographic Info: Female age 74, single, religious                                                 #26

1) What constitutes a family: People living together, sharing all responsibilities in a loving, supportive environment which nurtures the physical, psychological, intellectual and spiritual well being of each person.

2) Church supports or hinders: The Church’s teaching on the above matters causes great harm in families. It encourages a self-righteous, judgmental behavior that has caused many individuals to be alienated from a supportive family. Those who follow the “teachings” of the Church many times become bitter, lonely people.

3) Other issues: Birth control: My sister in law who followed “the law” and gave birth 7 times but did not have capacity to love and nurture the last 3 of her children.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: None of the children attend Church – nor are they raising their children in the Church.

5) Message to bishops: Open your minds and hearts to the real needs of the people.

Demographic Info: Female age 74, single, religious                                                 #27

1) What constitutes a family: People who support each other in living full human lives. People who love, respect, and trust each other in a daily manner. A family is often the result of a marriage between an man and a woman but could be seen more broadly – partners who cohabit but do not marry, people who help the birth parents of children with life tasks.

2) Church supports or hinders: I think the punishment of divorced people by refusing Eucharist drives not only them from the Church, but also their children. This teaching encourages people to stay in abusive relationships. I think people can have too many children and cannot care for them. It may not be a problem in the US but lack of contraception in other, poorer countries leads to more poverty and violence. This teaching is not helpful to families anywhere. I think the Church’s assumption of men as the superior gender leads to too many children and no sense of self among women and girls.

3) Other issues: I have a niece who married a man who was only married briefly. She was told from the pulpit she should not approach for communion. She tries to stay connected with her own parish, but these public shamings are devastating to her. Jesus did not ask the 5000 he fed if they were in good standing in their synagogues.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: If young people who experience same sex attraction could find compassion and a listening ear, perhaps we would not see the destructive acting-out of some homosexuals. The earlier document of the US bishops did not call a homosexual “disordered.” We have gone backwards in this area and the people are leaving us in the dust.

5) Message to bishops: Listen to the people of God. The Holy Spirit is at work in the faithful.

Demographic Info: Female age 51, single, lay Catholic                                                       #28

1) What constitutes a family: People connected by blood or choice that are committed to each other’s well being.

2) Church supports or hinders: “Official” Church teaching seems to hinder and hurt families in each of these areas by being judgmental (morally). There are practical and emotional reasons for contraception, cohabitation, and remarriage. The Church’s extreme position on homosexuality has caused so much emotional and relational damage to individuals and families. And all of it contradicts the teaching of Jesus.

3) Other issues: My family has been negatively impacted by almost every one of these issues. Divisions were created. Emotional health was negatively impacted. Relationships within families were damaged needlessly.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes. It struck me in my 20’s (after being pretty devout until then) that the Catholic Church defined itself by who it excluded rather than by who it included. Again, a contradiction to Jesus’ teaching. It wasn’t until an employment opportunity connected me to the sisters of St. Joseph that I heard about Catholic Social Teaching, social justice, love of God and dear neighbor without distinction, that I experienced a more inclusive and loving vision of Catholicism. Still it is a church that excludes women from leadership or fully sharing their God-given gifts in service of the people of the Church. Change needs to happen!

5) Message to bishops: Many of the traditional teachings of the Church are no longer relevant. They do more harm than good. Ordain women. Stop the moral judgments that harm families and keep people from respecting the Church. Look closely at the teachings of Jesus, not the rules of the hierarchy.

Demographic Info: Female age 81, single, religious                                                 #29

1) What constitutes a family: Parents/guardian/children sharing life and raising, educating, supporting, sharing, living together and freely worshiping in the church.

2) Church supports or hinders: (b: hinders) Excluding from Church all who are not in traditional male/female marriages. So many have remarried and then told not to receive communion. So they attend and sit in the pew struggling with being excluded.

3) Other issues: My sister’s mother-in-law remarried. She would not stop going to Mass but never went up to communion. We were so sorry because she felt so left out and sad.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: We are the church. I have a hard time belonging to a church that excludes anyone. Isn’t there a place at the table for all? People love the Church and it is so important for them to belong – be accepted. What does this do to those who are excluded?

5) Message to bishops: We need Church reform around sexuality, marriage, and family. There must be exceptions to all the rules the Church holds over our head.

Demographic Info: Female age 76, active lay Catholic                                                        #30

1) What constitutes a family:

2) Church supports or hinders:

3) Other issues: I do believe that the church should set the bar high in regards to our Christian behaviors, but like the chosen people in the Old Testament, we are flawed and imperfect and cannot always meet the bar. Marriage is a sacrament and held to a very high standard. When one or both partners fail so badly that the differences are irreconcilable, the Church’s stance by way of the annulment process is punishing and totally unsympathetic. If there are children, to deny that the marriage ever existed is to render the children bastards. If the couple in their God given need for union find another who is compatible and likely to help them grow in their faith, they are told that if they marry they may not receive the sacraments. Holy Orders is also a sacrament, yet priests can be laicized, marry and receive the sacraments. They can even brutalize children and be forgiven and receive the sacraments. There is a very big disconnect in logic here. Many young people co-habit before marriage for which they can be forgiven lest they make the fatal mistake of marrying an incompatible partner and being deprived of the food for the soul for the rest of their lives.

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Male age 50, single, Stephen Series Minister                                        #31

1) What constitutes a family: Love, commitment, togetherness, support. Home stability acceptance

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) Give the term family a home. (b: hinders) Breaks family apart

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I feel in limbo. I love my faith, but it is a struggle within to live a gay life and practice my faith.

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Female age 69, married, lay Catholic, music minister                           #32

1) What constitutes a family: a group of people related by blood, marriage and/or affinity who share loving relationships of mutual support … family of blood and family of choice

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) not. (b: hinders) Denying the truth that sexual orientation is God-given, not a “choice;” opposing same-sex marriage; denying communion to divorced/remarried people; opposing birth control other than “natural family planning;” rigid opposition to abortion regardless of the circumstances like the case in Texas where the mother of several children would die (and the baby within her) if she continued the pregnancy. The nun at the hospital who okayed an abortion to save the mother’s life and allow the other children to keep their mother was then punished.

3) Other issues: GLBT friends who have been rejected by their families because of “the church.”

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I’ve rejected numerous church “teachings” as being inconsistent with reality. I subscribe to CTA’s “We are the Church.”

5) Message to bishops: How many centuries did it take for the church to admit that Galileo was right? How long will it take to admit other scientific realities and findings of social science?

Demographic Info: Male age 52, single, non-practicing                                                       #33

1) What constitutes a family: People who choose to unconditionally love each other and choose to support each other for life.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) Hell No!! More like hostile. (b: hinders) Yes. When the hierarchy decided they could ignore both theologians and the people who live real lives, they cut themselves off from those whose lives they pretend to care about. Those people who are adults but have a 3rd grade understanding of life, ie: do not expect them to take ownership of the decisions they make…it’s what father told me to do.

3) Other issues: It shows the hierarchy is not connected to science and the real lives of people. They have a teaching and are doing everything to support the teaching (as if nothing ever changed) instead of dealing with the changes in science and society.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Very much so. I am not sure the hierarchy can change enough to get me to feel there is hope and come back to it.

5) Message to bishops: The hierarchy has to change and be open to the Holy Spirit versus be guards of an outdated institution. An institution that is dead and not alive.

Demographic Info: Female age 63, married priest                                                                #34

1) What constitutes a family: A group of people who support and love each other. May include children.

2) Church supports or hinders: I believe there should be room for all these issues.

3) Other issues: The sin of sexism. The Church should ordain women. I believe it’s what is in your heart, not your shorts that is important.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes. The Church says that I am excommunicated.   I do not participate in my own excommunication.

5) Message to bishops: Recognize the value, role, and service of women.

Demographic Info: Female age 70, single, practicing                                                           #35

1) What constitutes a family: A group of people who care about each other whether related by blood or not.

2) Church supports or hinders: Being able to divorce and remarry should be the right of each couple who needs this without having to go through an annulment process. Contraception is a private matter and decisions for woman and her partner.

3) Other issues: The church needs to be much more open and welcoming to LGBTQ persons and their relationships. The whole pedophilia denial and processing means the church has no credibility with me.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Who is the church to tell people they cannot partake of communion? That should be between the person and their conscience.

5) Message to bishops: Ordain women! Many of those called to ordination are married and in intimate relationships so decisions would be made on different factors.

Demographic Info: Male age 54, single, lay Catholic                                                           #36

1) What constitutes a family: A household of 2-100 persons whose love is faithful, fruitful and life-giving.

2) Church supports or hinders: (b: hinders) Church’s definition of family shuts out many, many legitimate, beautiful families

3) Other issues: Tremendously hurtful – the teaching on the intrinsic disorder that gay people are branded with.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes, these teachings have inspired me to join Catholic Base Communities that are lay-led.

5) Message to bishops: Behold. Encourage a church that is genuinely welcoming.

Demographic Info: Male age 30, single, lay Catholic                                                           #37

1) What constitutes a family: People (who do not have to be blood related) who support, care, challenge, and unconditionally love each other from birth to death.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) Liberal churches and communities who are open and see the dignity of the individual have welcomed people from all of these issues. It has made “the family” (the whole family) stronger. They continue to grow and explore the mystery of our human nature as opposed to retreat into a fearful past. (b: hinders) I have been denied communion for simply being a gay man. Denial of sacraments is one primary way to divide a family.

3) Other issues: Due to lack of support from the Catholic Church for the DIGNITY of LGBT individuals, it has caused division in my family, particularly my mother. She will not admit to anyone else that she has a gay son (me). She can’t be proud of my or anything I do, because she does not feel she can talk about me…just like the CHURCH does not talk about it. NO DIALOGUE, MOSTLY TABOO AND SHAME.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I no longer attend any Catholic Church formally tied to the hierarchy of the Vatican. I attend other Catholic communities led by women priests, social justice advocates, and other avenues.

5) Message to bishops: Stop avoiding DIALOGUE. Just TALKattempt to understand.

Demographic Info: Male age 61, gay partner for 28 years, layman                                      #38

1) What constitutes a family: Adults dedicated to each other who may also be dedicated to raising children.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) Very supportive of heterosexual couples. (b: hinders) Antogonistic and hurtful to LGBT couples and their children.

3) Other issues: The church will not marry my partner of 28 years and me. My conservative Catholic brother will not speak to me because I am in a gay relationship.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: This has profoundly hurt my relationship with the RC Church which I see as a barrier to justice and a scandal to the Gospel.

5) Message to bishops: Marry gay Catholic couples who seek marriage.

Demographic Info: Female age 27, married, lay Catholic                                                    #39

1) What constitutes a family: People who reliably take care of each other.

2) Church supports or hinders: Solely hindering; not supportive at all. There is so much judgment of “non-ideal” family forms. I grew up knowing battered wives who stayed with their husbands (subjecting children to abuse) because they did not dare get a divorce because that’s against church teaching. And opposing the adoption of abandoned children by same-sex couples. The Church should be ashamed of itself.

3) Other issues: My poor husband married a closeted lesbian. I don’t think that’s fair to him. It’s not fair to me, either. But I wanted to follow the “right” life path.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes, We’re just the latest in a string of millions of victims of homophobic teaching.

5) Message to bishops: Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

Demographic Info: Female age 57, married to same-sex spouse, lay Catholic                     #40

1) What constitutes a family: People who make a commitment to each other. They may or may not have children.

2) Church supports or hinders: Church teachings on divorce and remarriage, cohabitation and contraception are harmful to families. Same-sex couples have been gravely harmed by church teachings. Church should support loving same-sex couples.

3) Other issues: The church needs to address sexual abuse by priests in a direct and more effective manner. It is shameful that the church accepts this yet shuts out same-sex couples.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I am not willing to send money to the diocese because of the money being spent to avoid dealing with the issues of abuse by priests. The money should be spent on taking care of the poor and marginalized.

5) Message to bishops: The people know more about marriage and family life than do the bishops. The bishops should listen to us.

Demographic Info: Female age 54, married, lay Catholic                                                    #41

1) What constitutes a family: People who live together for their common good caring for each other.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) Supporting people who meet the norm. (b: hinders) I see that official teachings are to be ignored. I see them as hindering families, not meeting people where we are. As a member of Dignity, I see that the Church doesn’t recognize many families.

3) Other issues: I ignore the teachings on birth control and on cohabitation. Other issues are not part of my life.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I am not so interested in the hierarchical church. I am connected to my parish/faith community and choose my community carefully.

5) Message to bishops: Jesus welcomed us all; sinners all of us.

Demographic Info: Male age 64, single but looking, lay Catholic                                       #42

1) What constitutes a family: A group of people with a common bond of love, working together for the good of the union.

2) Church supports or hinders: The majority of churches (pastors/bishops) hurt loving relationships by not only not accepting but not trying to understand family situations. One cannot always completely know the other person – thus some marriages are better off ending. Thus divorce and remarriage are necessities.

3) Other issues: As a gay man, I have been made to feel unwelcome in most Catholic Churches.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes, I am always on the search for a community that would welcome me as I am.

5) Message to bishops: Let’s start thinking, acting, and behaving as Christ would in the 20th (at least) hopefully the 21st century.

Demographic Info: Male age 23, partnered (4 years), Lay (non-practicing)            #43

1) What constitutes a family: In my experience, a family is constituted by any small unit of persons living in love and community. We know it need not require two parents, any children, or blood relationships for love to be taught and learned there.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) The church’s belief in the importance of relationships is supportive of families. (b: hinders) The teaching on contraception hurts families by giving many no means of family planning and they’re trapping the poor in poverty by having to provide for all their children. The teaching on same-sex attraction is absurd and only encourages ignorance, broken relationships, and fear of who God really made us to be. The teaching on divorce is harmful because it traps women in abusing relationships and prevents love from growing where it already is.

3) Other issues: The church’s teaching on sexuality has caused me a decade of shame and psychological damage. The only way I could find healing was to integrate my same-sex attraction against the Church’s recommendation. There is so much pain in the LGBT Catholic community it can’t be captured in words.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes! The church’s backward teachings have led me elsewhere for spiritual growth in my relationship with God. We can’t be expected to use our God given faculty of reason and at the same time ignore what the scientific and especially the psychological communities teach us about the healthiness and importance of same-sex relationships, cohabitation, remarriage, and contraception for families.

5) Message to bishops: Please move forward with bold hearts and open minds to the work the Spirit is doing or my generation will continue to find God elsewhere without you. We’re strong, intelligent, and faithful. Give us a place at your table.

Demographic Info: Female age 50, single, lay Catholic                                                       #44

1) What constitutes a family: Love

2) Church supports or hinders: Negative toward all but traditional teaching – and family

3) Other issues: Homosexuality a sin – causing much grief to mother and son and daughter.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Brother left the Church. I have stayed.

5) Message to bishops: People are leaving the church because they feel unloved.

Demographic Info: Female age 76, living together, lay Catholic                                         #45

1) What constitutes a family: Loving each other

2) Church supports or hinders: b: hindering

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church: It has made me choose women priests who accept everyone.

5) Message to bishops: Accept everyone.

Demographic Info: Male age 34, single, semi-practicing                                                      #46

1) What constitutes a family: two or more loving individuals

2) Church supports or hinders:

3) Other issues: It was hard growing up. I didn’t have the self confidence to stand up for myself. The Catholic Church wasn’t supportive.

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Male age 86, single, priest                                                                     #47

1) What constitutes a family: A gathering of people, male and female.

2) Church supports or hinders:

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Female age 55, married 29 years, lay Catholic                                      #48

1) What constitutes a family: A loving, cohesive, supportive relationship

2) Church supports or hinders: The church is not supportive and embarrasses me with their teaching on same sex attraction / marriage. I believe and hope at some point the Church will realize that people who are in same sex relationships are in loving, committed unions / marriages and should be able to continue to be accepted by the Church.

Contraception teaching is a joke. A vast majority finds no value and does not follow the Catholic teaching. I know this was a huge sticky point during Vatican II. Contraception is not abortion and should not be treated as such. The Church should correct its stance on contraception and move forward into what is reality. People do not value an institution that holds on to archaic views.

3) Other issues: My divorced friends do not feel welcomed by the Church and yet do still feel an affiliation to the Church. Divorce and remarriage should not be something that excludes. It is sometimes the best and healthiest option.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes, they are not included in the Catholic Church at all or as much as they would like. Both divorced and same sex couples. At one point we viewed mixed race couples as wrong. Also ridiculous.

5) Message to bishops: Move the Church to a realistic view of families and sexuality. Contraception is not abortion and is what is realistic and necessary in relationships.

  • Loving, committed same sex relationships are natural and not a sin. Viewing this as a sin or choice is archaic and unrealistic. The Church needs to welcome all.
  • Similarly, divorce is a reality that can be the best choice and divorced/remarried Catholics need to be welcomed as well.
  • Overall, a Church should be positive & welcoming of all wherever they are.
  • Single parent committed to raising a child
  • A childless couple (gay or heterosexual)
  • Gay couple with kids
  • Mandating celibacy among women and men religious
  • Belittling same sex attraction
  • Not accepting the validity of sexuality as a natural expression of caring in and of itself
 

Demographic Info: Female age 45, married, lay Catholic                                                    #49

1) What constitutes a family: Group of people biologically linked or chosen to be together

2) Church supports or hinders: The Church is not supportive to all families. It is exclusive and judgmental. It puts unrealistic expectations on marriage, having children, etc, and when things don’t work, like divorce or people don’t want children, they are left to feel like they are wrong and shouldn’t be Catholic.

3) Other issues: Family members have felt shunned by the Church because they divorced, had an abortion, or are gay. My kids question whether they want to be Catholic because they believe, as I do, that gay people should marry, divorced people are not bad, and not all should have children or lots of children because raising kids takes a lot of time, effort, energy, and money. If you aren’t fully invested, the outcome is bad for the child / family / society.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Many have left the Church, relationships and marriages have been harmed, belief in God has been questioned. They have felt judged.

5) Message to bishops: Please rethink what we are teaching about Catholicism in regards to sexuality, marriage, and family. Time has passed since rules were made and a lot has changed. People live longer, marry later, don’t need a lot of kids to farm, don’t want to have children, marriages fail, but people aren’t failures. The Church can continue to highly value marriage, children, and sexual responsibility without being so strict.

Demographic Info: Female age 62, married, lay Catholic                                                    #50

1) What constitutes a family: A family is very broad-much beyond mom, dad, & kids: such as:

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) the services the Church offers (including schools). (b: hinders) Saying the being gay is “disordered. Saying that contraception is wrong. My daughter cannot understand why being gay is wrong if God made the person that way.

3) Other issues: My mom had horrible anxiety. In a large part, I think this condition was made worse by the constant fear of getting pregnant again.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: My mom is still a strong Catholic, but it makes me question why the Church would have wanted my mom and dad to have more kids than they could afford.

5) Message to bishops: Really listen to the Catholic laity. Get the laity involved in decision making. Jesus never said that “his Church” had to be so hierarchical. The Church needs to be more welcoming and not so concerned with telling everyone (Catholic or not) what they are doing wrong. Jesus came with a message of love one another and spoke against all the rules and regulations of the Jewish faith. Now here we are 1000s of years later with a lot of rules and regulations. Would others recognize us as Christians “by the way we love one another?”

Demographic Info: Male age 63, single, lay Catholic                                                           #51

1) What constitutes a family: To be a family is an aggregate of individuals who not only care for each other but look out for each other on a daily basis.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) Church focus on the inviolability of the family unit provides an example of the ideal which is helpful.

(b: hinders) Hindered by

3) Other issues: (1) divorced Catholics not being able to participate in Eucharist if no annulment. (2) Annulment process itself is silly and passive/aggressive. (3) Unrealistic mandates on sexuality outside of marriage.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: yes, I am a divorced Catholic who cannot be married in the Church again without an annulment. Also would like to be able to welcome same-sex couples and individual homosexuals into the “family of God,” but can’t.

5) Message to bishops: Please consider deleting the entire concept of annulment from Catholic doctrine and dogma.   Jesus stated that not divorcing is the ideal; however, he admitted that God allowed it among the Israelites because they wanted it. I, too, believe that commitment and monogamy between two individuals is the ideal; however, there are situations where divorce is necessary, and I would like to see the church acknowledge that.

Demographic Info: Female age 67, married, non-practicing                                    #52

1) What constitutes a family: A family is any group of people who live together and love each other…be it man/woman, two men, or two women

2) Church supports or hinders: All of the above. The church has hurt family. How can a group of men have any idea how to raise a family and expect to talk about sex and keep two people from loving each other – and why should a divorced person have to pay money out to get remarried! When they really have not done anything other than wanting a better life with someone who they love.0

3) Other issues: Yes, my son is gay and was raised in the Catholic school.

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops: Please start treating everyone the same and make the Church a welcoming place for everyone. This is American and we need to be kind & understanding, and you need to bring trust back to the people.

Demographic Info: Female age 49, married, lay Catholic                                                    #53

1) What constitutes a family: People living together as community. Community can be as small as your household and as big as the world. The bigger your community the more open hearted to people different than yourself. For me, the bigger the better. We are all interconnected!

2) Church supports or hinders: The bishops shouldn’t dictate how each member lives their lives. Instead they should be a role model of living a good and kind life where we accept each other and challenge each other to be the best we can be. Be open hearted and nonjudgmental!

3) Other issues: The whole vote yes campaign and DVDs was a horrifying example of exclusivity and small mindedness. History will look poorly on those actions by the Church. Many gay and lesbian people who work for the Church can’t be who they really are publically or they will lose their jobs. That is a crime.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes, disgusted with the actions of the church when it comes to same sex relationships and priest sex abuse toward children.

5) Message to bishops: Open your hearts. Live as Jesus did. No “judgy” rules. Open your hearts to all people no matter where they are on their journey. Women should be able to be ordained priests and priests should be able to marry. Stop talking about birth control and start voting for children’s rights…health care, education, etc. None of your business who goes to communion or not – that’s between God and the person.

Demographic Info: Male age 65, married, lay Catholic                                                        #54

1) What constitutes a family: Individuals that love and support one another. It is a group that puts the needs of others ahead of their own.

2) Church supports or hinders: These issues reflect the world as it is in many ways and the Church must consider and modify their teachings.

3) Other issues: I believe the Church needs to include women at all levels and positions including (especially) the priesthood.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes, I would describe myself as a bewildered Catholic, one who cannot understand the Church in its present state

5) Message to bishops: Please work to bring the Catholic Church in line with Catholics teaching in a way that truly addresses these issues. Please work to be inclusive of women in all levels of the hierarchy of the Church.

Demographic Info: Female age 60, married, lay Catholic                                                    #55

1) What constitutes a family: A group of people bond together by the commitment to each other, love for one another.

2) Church supports or hinders: Close family and friends who have divorced that were told they cannot be remarried in Catholic Church, cannot be Eucharistic ministers, (families/couples) who choose to use contraception responsibly so to limit the number of children or when to start a family who feel they are betraying Catholic rule, most who continue to belong to Catholic Church and use birth control. The Catholic Church not acknowledging that contraception use in some other countries (poverty) would keep these families out of poverty.

3) Other issues: Many family and friends who have cohabitation without regard to Catholic “rule.” Same sex: Catholic teaching may say they acknowledge homosexuality but just have rules against marriage within Catholic Church, yet there is discrimination within hiring, etc.

Catholic Church must be pro-active about why millennials are not attending and why many others are leaving Catholic church to become involved in other denominations or just not organized religion. Many of us want a community that includes everyone in administration and parishioners.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: One out of two of our children do not attend Catholic Church based on these issues. He was very influenced by the good teachers and youth ministers during formative years.

5) Message to bishops: How will American college of American bishops “fight” for the people of the Catholic Church?

Demographic Info: Female age 54, married, lay Catholic                                                    #56

1) What constitutes a family: A family is a group of people who love each other with different ages and/or parental figures, and/or children. They live together until children leave home.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) The church supports traditional families. Mine is traditional and have always felt supported except in the area of birth control.

(b: hinders) Other families have been very hurt by the teachings: (1) divorced friend who didn’t want the divorce and was denied an annulment - left the Church. (2) Niece who is a lesbian and does not feel welcome – left the Church. (3) Friend’s mother never felt worthy of Eucharist after her husband divorced her. (4) So many hurt with Church fighting same sex marriage.

3) Other issues: I know many people who have left the Church due to their outrage over the Church’s position on homosexuality. Most Catholics I know do not even consider the Church’s teachings on contraception, cohabitation, or sex outside of marriage.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: As I said, most ignore the Church teachings and do what they feel is reasonable as loving humans. I also ignored the teachings on premarital sex and contraception.

5) Message to bishops: Please make the Church inclusive and loving as Jesus was! Having archaic rules that no one follows only makes our church an outdated museum. Science has proven we are biologically born with homosexual or heterosexual tendencies.

Demographic Info: Male age 57, married, lay Catholic                                                        #57

1) What constitutes a family: A group of people united in a variety of ways: marriage, living together, or who identify themselves as a family, who take responsibility for each other’s well being.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) The Church is only supportive of families that fit the Church’s definition of a family. Those that do are included and feel support from the Church. (b: hinders) Too exclusive, many families do not feel support and are ostracized in many ways.

3) Other issues: Heterosexual vs. homosexual issue – a niece who left the Church. They are not welcome in the Church.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I feel less of an attachment to the Church. My respect for church leadership is greatly diminished.

5) Message to bishops: The focus for the Church should be on helping those who struggle in a variety of ways, ie: faith, poverty, relationships. The Church has a great message and can be extremely beneficial when the emphasis is there. We currently focus on issues that detract from the beauty and wonder of the Church. We should be focusing on what unites us, not on what divides us.

Demographic Info: Female age 76, 2nd marriage, lay Catholic                                             #58

1) What constitutes a family: A group of committed people that care for each other.

2) Church supports or hinders: My annulment inferred that the first marriage didn’t exist or was invalid. I believe that hurt my 3 children. The marriage HAD existed. The two spouses had chosen poorly or didn’t have the skills to work together. There were also sexual issues that no one was addressing in the sixties.

3) Other issues: Gay people DO NOT choose their situation. They are born that way. How very sad that Church is hand picking scripture – or mistrusting the modern science available. Some theologians of past MAY have been mistaken.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I no longer attend Catholic Church. On Sunday I attend an Independent Eucharistic Community, all volunteer and NO minister. It is beautiful and so meaningful. We are also doing group readings on evolution and emerging Christianity – the atonement theory is so narrowly expressed – broaden out to historical Jesus and some expressions of Christ.

5) Message to bishops: Read books by Marcus Borg on existing paradigm of Christianity and emerging paradigm. Try to return to original lessons from Jesus – and STOP relying on various theologians (sometimes plain wrong) down through the ages. We are past traditional, modern and post modern eras. Now into INTEGRAL consciousness. Listen to science and newly emerging “energy work” and whatever is coming NEXT.

Demographic Info: Male age 76, married, formerly divorced, Spirit of St. Stephens          #59

1) What constitutes a family: Group of two committed adults and children either coming from the union or adopted. Exceptions are one adult / one adult with children / two adults no children. Also include extended family.

2) Church supports or hinders:

3) Other issues: Certainly the lack of women clergy is an important issue. The Church maintains an outdated patriarchal society which is not working. The Church needs to modify its stance on divorce. In all areas related to sexuality the Church supports institutions that are relics – which have served their purpose.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Just like many young adults, I believe this makes me relate to the Church in a sense of anger about their seeming irrelevance. I grew up in the Church and I find so much need for change and so little intent.

5) Message to bishops: Granted you are in a body of Church leaders and prayerfully want to do what is Spirit-ed for the people of the Church. Unfortunately your position and that of peers are encumbered by two thousand years of dogma and doctrine. Somehow I pray that the decisions you make part with the emphasis on the laws of the church – and listen to the voices of the laity. I assume you have received lots of input from Catholics who need change.

Demographic Info: Female age 55, single, practicing Catholic                                            #60

1) What constitutes a family: blood relatives, siblings parents, in-laws, nieces, nephews, long stand friends without support; spiritual kinship, willing to share and respect each other.

2) Church supports or hinders: Divorce & remarriage

3) Other issues: Where does the Church stand regarding single individuals not pursuing religious life, not divorced, and not aspiring to marriage or parenthood?

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Not aspiring to religious life or marriage.

5) Message to bishops: Please speak to / talk with / listen to individuals who have never been or aspired to religious life, marriage, remarriage, parenthood, widowhood. What gifts do you seek from them?

Demographic Info: Male age 77, married, non-clergy                                                          #61

1) What constitutes a family: A loving relationship of genetically connected persons. Those that say my work is my family are equivocating. Blended families will always be partially connected.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) sacramental marriage. (b: hinders) birth control

3) Other issues: Not really, except our decision to use the pill for birth control as a morally responsible choice for us.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: None

5) Message to bishops: What I would like to say to Pope Francis: Modernize the teaching of birth control to utilize good science and good ethics. Seriously visit the question of loving relationships not under the traditional form of marriage.

Demographic Info: Female age 69, single, lay Catholic                                                       #62

1) What constitutes a family: Loving people who care deeply about one another and invest life energy and time within this community.

2) Church supports or hinders: (b: hinders) Most families are hindered by the church’s stance on divorce, remarriage, contraception, and same sex attraction. The Church must reform. My friend whose husband sexually abused two of their five children needs to be allowed to remarry and receive the sacraments.

3) Other issues: (1) issues regarding funerals and burials, (2) Issues of exclusive theology , and (3) Issue of female priests

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I ignore when the hierarchy is too rigid, and I embrace the issues about justice and peace.

5) Message to bishops: Release and free your people over the issues of contraception, divorce, remarriage, same sex attraction. Let it happen soon, within the year 2015-16. We have matured as humans. Don’t hold us back. You will be ignored even though you have much to offer.

Demographic Info: Female age 55, married, lay Catholic                                                    #63

1) What constitutes a family: People who bond together in love for always.

2) Church supports or hinders: (1) Remarriage – we had to find a radical deacon to marry us in the Church because my husband is a divorced Catholic. We didn’t want to seek an annulment. (2) Contraception teaching is hurting families who feel they have to abide by it. (3) The Church authority is not accepting that God made everyone as a part of the world – the way they are – they are the communion of saints.

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Some are not open to anything they haven’t heard growing up in the faith. Some reject the Church outright for a few things they feel are wrong.

5) Message to bishops: We live in a different world than existed when many of our teachings were originated. The world wasn’t perfect then – teachings can be imperfect. The Church needs to evolve as the world does in order to survive. In good conscience we are not listening anymore. The people are the Church – listen to what they are saying – and see what they are doing.

Demographic Info: Female age 69, married, lay Catholic                                                    #64

1) What constitutes a family: Any two or more people with a primary nurturing role and others in a growing, immature role and who love each other and want the best for each other.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) As Catholics, people do struggle to remain married. Sometimes it works; sometimes not. (b: hinders) The guilt divorced and same sex couples are beset by, the shame that is unnecessarily placed on the shoulders of the one (of both) that want(s) to remain in relationship to the Church is burdensome and unneeded.

3) Other issues: My sister-in-law experienced sexual abuse by a priest and cannot at this point go to any services or become a member of any church. This happened in another state. She needs healing but is still trapped by fear and anger toward the perpetrator and the organization of the Church.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: She (sister-in-law who was sexually abused by a priest) does not have a relationship with the Church, but she has been loved and accepted by our family and she has a relationship with us.

5) Message to bishops: Start to listen to the laity and to trust the laity for having well-informed consciences to make their decisions.

Demographic Info: Female age 77, single, former nun, lay, 45 years in formal church ministry; I’m a woman…second class citizen                                                                                     #65

1) What constitutes a family: Bonded by my birth to my parents and sisters and brother – But also bonded with friends and parishioners, etc. I’m single – the matriarch of my family. How am I family as a single person? My “kids” are nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews. Also my godchildren are special. We have a place at a common table where we share joys and struggles.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) Some priests and hierarchy are supportive but needs more support from Church – not just sin, guilt, shame. (b: hinders) I don’t find lots of support for singles. The role of women is discounted, especially in leadership and in decisions. Women in Church history is so rich. We need to rediscover! Great lack of equality / so many still in margins, fringes. Let’s admit our pain and go forward. I have been abused by the Church and still feel the scars.

3) Other issues: Role of women is a sexual issue because we have limited the beauty of our sexuality. There is much pain in my family regarding divorce / remarriage. I have the most beautiful friends who are gay and lesbian and are alienated from the Church. Also nieces and nephews who used birth control and co-habitation – sex before marriage.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes! I was a “Roaming Catholic” (alienated for some years) but landed in a great parish. Hope now with Pope Francis. Discover the “Joy of the Gospel.” My convent years were special.

5) Message to bishops: Listen and Act. (1) Look to Christ – How did he treat people? (2) Re-read the Documents of Vatican II – especially the “Dogmatic Constitution on the Church” (Lumen Gentium) and the “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World” (Gaudium et Spes). The richness and direction is there. (3) Listen, Listen, Listen – with your hearts. Have humility (which means truth) and admit that the Church is dysfunctional – out of touch, and has caused much pain when we should/need to find the joys, mercy, healing, care, and forgiveness. (4) So many clergy have violated people through abuse. Trust is floundering.

Demographic Info: Female age 71, married, lay Catholic                                                    #66

1) What constitutes a family: A relationship that is intimate in which there is a place to be nurtured, cared for, and loved in order to grow.

2) Church supports or hinders: A stable family is ideal but because we are all wounded and life is messy, there needs to be room for acceptance of other ways of expressing love outside of conventional old rules and old ways.

3) Other issues: My daughter divorced. She got an annulment but her husband didn’t. My granddaughter objects to current doctrine on homosexuality. Does not want to be confirmed.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: They have a hard time going to church and scolded for being divorced. My granddaughter thinks the Church is abusive by excluding LGBT. I go to SJA parish and we are inclusive and welcoming.

5) Message to bishops: Please take some silence and you will hear the harmony of all sounds: your people long for healing; your people want to belong; your people need to be free to be who they are. Let the Lord of Good Sense speak to you. Release old rules and ways that keep the people in chains. Let there be such a deep silence that it will echo throughout the chambers of the Synod. Then speak words of love and compassion to unite us in the Great Church of All.

Demographic Info: Male age 74, married one time, lay Catholic                                         #67

1) What constitutes a family: An adult or ideally two who have a bond of love and commitment to each other if a couple or if single have some community, love and support and possibly have children that they care for on to adult life.

2) Church supports or hinders: Our church must open itself to the realities of family life in this century – and use human and material resources – housing, jobs, wage improvement advocacy - to build a “family oriented” church “ministry.” The leadership – bishops and cardinals – and some polarized laity are afraid of a progressive agenda and mission for the church.

3) Other issues: My children are appalled at the Church’s stance toward gays and contraception – and the alignment with right wing politics. Abortion debate is now a disgrace. Woman have rights (constitution) over their bodies.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I feel now we have a chance to speak and be heard because this pope and the nuns, plus president Hillary C. will push for progressiveness across the board.

5) Message to bishops: Please think about all those who you represent as pastors. They all need your acceptance and support to live full lives as persons in relationship. This explicit welcome to all will begin a critical (and overdue) healing process for the Catholic community.

Demographic Info: male age 92, practicing layman                                                             #68

1) What constitutes a family: Any group of 3 or more people living under one roof motivated to accommodate each other!!

2) Church supports or hinders: Official church teaching questioned by many and very divisive. Official teaching unfair and disregarded as not important.

3) Other issues: Ordination of women possible but they must require same preparation: philosophy, theology, etc.

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops: “Listen to the young people.” Talk to your married couples! Make annulment easier! Less expensive.

Demographic Info: Female age 70, married, lay Catholic                                                    #69

1) What constitutes a family: I know a lovely young woman who with her female partner is raising two boys. Clearly they are a lovely, healthy family. They are proof that we must redefine family to include LGBT families.

2) Church supports or hinders: The Church’s judging of those who marry same sex partners, who stand up for contraception (even abortion in selected cases) and who cohabit or divorce and remarry has alienated my adult children. They see them as hypocritical and, in the case of bishops who protected sex abusers, as criminal. Why would they go to church? They say it is irrelevant.

3) Other issues: My psychiatrist husband has had psychotic patients who needed an abortion. He has also been asked by church authorities to “fix” a lesbian woman. WRONG! WRONG!

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I already follow my conscience and find my own ways to enrich my faith. Priests and bishops aren’t any longer much help. Nuns and theologians often are.

5) Message to bishops: You are being ignored and called irrelevant by millions of young people from Catholic families.   As a parent of 5 such adult children, I want you to know that your rigidity, your poor education, and your narrow ideologies have made it impossible for you to overcome your fear of change and create a church relevant to our future.

Demographic Info: Female age 55, divorced after 29 years married, lay Catholic              #70

1) What constitutes a family: People with intimate connections, not just sexually…emotional intimacy and connectedness and/or people connected by genetics, adoptions & marriage and committed relationships.

2) Church supports or hinders: Irrelevancy is rampant – no support. Contraception: Church is ignored, holds no authority, no control. Cohabitation: again, people decide for themselves and church has some authority, but little control. The discrimination of GLBT is reprehensible and morally wrong. It’s illegal (or should be) so why does church propagate it? Discrimination of women is illegal and wrong too!

3) Other issues: My 26 year old, heterosexual son simply says the church lacks credibility and holds no authority over him. Celibate men should not be deciding how married people should live their sexual lives out.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: My son has left the church. I’m advocating for change and growth.

5) Message to bishops: Open our Church and sacraments to all – like Jesus did. Women as full participants, priests if so call, married, single, traditional and non-traditional families, divorced and remarried, heterosexual or other for all sacraments, marriage included. Educate everyone so they know what is holy, righteous, and Godly when they consult and listen to their conscience. Support and listen to people when they act on their conscience. Supportive and encouraging message not punitive and negative power holding.

Demographic Info: Male age 85, single/committed, lay Catholic                                        #71

1) What constitutes a family: Traditional: M, F, children. Single parent (widow, widower, divorced, never married) and children. By extension, other groupings of committed persons who espouse “family values.”

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) Yes, to some families. (b: hinders) Yes if adhered to rigidly or legalistically. We can support/promote “traditional” family structure without excluding other arrangements. It has not been demonstrated that supporting both damages either. Change is happening and is relentless; human nature will win out; Church has to listen.

3) Other issues: I do not know personally if disaffection from belonging to the church has been caused by these issues, but disaffection has occurred.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I stay committed because I believe a person’s relationship with God and God’s Church transcends many of the Church’s current regulations.

5) Message to bishops: Find a way to articulate the values of “traditional Catholic” marriage and at the same time leave room for the real life situations of other relationships. This is the way to respect what God is doing in the lives of people.

Demographic Info: Male age 72, married, lay Catholic                                                        #72

1) What constitutes a family: Two or more individuals who share deep emotional and experiential ties.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) only sometimes in unusual cases. When things are going well and church functionaries listen. (b: hinders) Usually. Congregations that are suspicious of new single moms moving into their church; rejections of gays; acceptance of gay bashing.

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Moved away from parishes; left the church for other; no church

5) Message to bishops: Listen to the church – remember the church is the people that God has chosen. You are Not the church!!

Demographic Info: Female age 84, religious                                                                        #73

1) What constitutes a family: Mother, Father (children) offspring, descendants of a particular couple. Loving relationships or at least responsibility for one another.

2) Church supports or hinders:  Divorce & remarriage: I have experienced several situations where the first marriage of a person had serious flawed motivations to encourage a marriage! It did not work out! Church blocks were good (for a time in which the person could mature.) But to be along for the rest of their lives was not good. Those who remarried often were good for many years.

3) Other issues: Yes! How long do we listen only to unmarried cardinals who never experienced relationship! We need woman and married couples to help make this sacrament viable.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Many of my family feel like they are not wanted in the Church if divorced.

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Female age 85, religious sister                                                               #74

1) What constitutes a family: Father, mother, children, basically relatives. Church.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) I find Church leaders very respectful to all peoples.

3) Other issues: Mixed marriage have led to not belong to any church. As a result, a lack of belief in God.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: it’s hard to know what my responsibilities are to these people.

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Female, age 74, single & a community member, Sister of St. Joseph   #75

1) What constitutes a family: Unsure except that the people are in relationship. Have relationship in common.

2) Church supports or hinders: Same sex relationships; couples without sacramental marriage seem to be outside of a church connection.

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops: Have women as representatives at the Synod

Demographic Info: Female age 78, religious, CSJ                                                                #76

1) What constitutes a family: Task: love and be loved; care and be cared for. Couple – kids – influenced by ancestors; influencing descendents, in communion with the family of earth

2) Church supports or hinders: (1) lots better than when I was a kid. A boy couldn’t be a priest if his folks were divorced. (2) Teaching = sin; yet experience is it works – marriage or split. (3) Contraception: teaching = sin; experience = responsible and relational behavior.

Teachings, dogmas, practices differ – some hurt, some hinder

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Let the knowledge from science lead to change of Church teaching.

5) Message to bishops: Get women at the Synod!

Demographic Info: Female age 74, single, community member, CSJ                                  #77

1) What constitutes a family: Two loving parents, woman and man, or woman & woman, or man & man in a caring, committed relationship.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) More support for same sex couples. (b: hinders) Not accepting or being open to all people.

3) Other issues: A priest refused to marry one of my grand nephews because his wife to be had a child (not his) and wasn’t married. Also refused to marry his sister because she lived with her fiancée in separate bedrooms before marriage. They both have joined other churches.

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops: We would like to see women represented at the Synod. Also married couples.

Demographic Info: Female age 75, single, religious                                                 #78

1) What constitutes a family: A family is two or more people who are connected by blood, by commitment or love and who support one another’s happiness and well being.

2) Church supports or hinders: I think the Church’s teachings on families are out of touch with the realities of our time; i.e. forbidding the use of contraception when the world is overpopulated and AIDs and other similar illnesses are passed by unprotected sex. Saying same-sex relationships are intrinsically disordered. I think the Church needs to teach more about following our consciences and sensus fidelium.

3) Other issues: Not letting people receive communion in our church unless they are “Catholic” and in the state of grace.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Definitely. I have been really angry about the way the Church shuts out LGBT people and encourages others to.

5) Message to bishops: I would like to see women representatives at the Synod.

Demographic Info: Female age 84, married, spouse is living, lay Catholic                          #79

1) What constitutes a family: At least two persons committed to one another in a long term relationship.

2) Church supports or hinders: (b: hinders) Personally and currently only one of my five children are practicing Catholics due to divorce, remarriage, cover up of abuses, etc. Also that priesthood is only limited to men.

3) Other issues: See #2

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes, I now attend an Independent Eucharistic Community with lay prayer leaders exercising the priesthood of the Baptized not of single sex orientation. The church institution does not speak to my needs or issues.

5) Message to bishops: Listen to people who actually are experiencing the vocation of marriage, not just to yourselves. While everyone comes from a family, clergy do not live the day-to-day ups and downs of married life. A blindness counselor who is not blind cannot fully understand the challenges of someone who is blind.

Invite women to fully participate at the Synod.

Demographic Info: Female age 86, single, religious                                                             #80

1) What constitutes a family: For me it is evolving – almost any group living together, sharing life and depending on one another.

2) Church supports or hinders: (b: hinders) Generally, I think they hinder. I firmly believe that teachings and practices have changed and can continue to change.

3) Other issues: Divorce/remarriage, cohabitation, contraception, same sex attraction and also exclusion of women. The annulment procedure needs to be changed. It would be more honest to admit that marriages die.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I have heard of people who have left the Catholic Church because of its teachings on contraception, divorce and remarriage, and exclusion of women from ordination, decision making, and harsh treatment of people in same sex relationships.

5) Message to bishops: Life is about evolution. As we learn more about human sexuality and as new circumstances arise, there must be development in how teachings and practices are expressed. Emphasize the primacy of conscience. Take sensus fidelium seriously. Allow married priests – why can’t celibacy be optional? Recognize that theologians are part of the magisterium. I wish priests and all members of the hierarchy could be (required?) strongly encouraged to read contemporary theology. I’d like to see women at the Synod as delegates with voice and vote. Also many married couples not just a few.

Demographic Info: Female age 72, single, religious                                                 #81

1) What constitutes a family: People who are related by birth or by choice, who care for one another and are committed to one another.

2) Church supports or hinders: As Church, we need to be realistic that contraception is a responsible choice, cohabitation is a reality for some for many good reasons, committed love in its various forms is holy.

3) Other issues: (1) The annulment process needs fixing if it is to be at all a sign of God’s love. (2) Same gender relationships need to be validated as sacramental.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Many are not a part of the Church – do not feel welcome or that they belong at the Table – convicted murders can be absolved and receive the Eucharist.

5) Message to bishops: Please really be open, REALLY hear what the faithful are reporting as their reality. Full inclusion of women’s gifts must be encouraged and welcomed.

Demographic Info: Female age 82, widow lay Catholic, very active in parish & archdiocese #82

1) What constitutes a family: Well, it depends on your state in life. Since I was married my family consisted of a husband and wife, children (primary family) plus my family of birth – parents and siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins. It also includes persons who come into your life need your care.

2) Church supports or hinders: Teaching on homosexuality is hindering. Teaching on contraception is hindering. Teaching on cohabitation – basically, I think the teaching is correct and that is should be taught and explained morally and kindly to young people.

3) Other issues: Contraception isn’t considered a valid teaching in our society. Not many even good Catholics follow it. It is not supportive.

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops: Listen to the people in the pews and maybe adjust things to modern times. Would like to see women representatives at the Synod.

Demographic Info: Female, senior, religious                                                                        #83

1) What constitutes a family: Parents, father & mother & children living in love & supporting one another.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) As encouraging parents to continue life together, overcome all hardships. (b: hinder) hurting families who cannot continue life together and removing them from the Church by denying the Eucharist to them.

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops: We would like to see women represented at the Synod.

Demographic Info: Female age 88, religious                                                                        #84

1) What constitutes a family: Important: physical (child-parent) relationship; loving care among members; cultural acceptance of group; legal acceptance

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) intention of the Church. (b: hinders) some attitudes, rules become stumbling blocks to life in Church.

3) Other issues: Divorce & remarriage; birth control issues; weekly mass attendance

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes – non-attendance; Church seems obsolete

5) Message to bishops: Continue the discussions. Have women as delegates too.

Demographic Info: Female age 83, single, religious                                                             #85

1) What constitutes a family: parents and children incorporated legally as a social entity recognized as such by civil and religious affiliation.

2) Church supports or hinders: Recognize reality of changing times – individual assessment of each person’s perspective is important to the relationship. No one, hard, fast directive and/or definition fits all. The focus must always be: drawing the individuals into the loving embrace of Christ, leading us to the Father.

3) Other issues: Too many individuals are hindered by loving relationships broken by laws that are too archaic and hurtful. Divorced individuals simply cannot be deprived of the sacraments and other spirit-giving rituals in the church.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I believe all are drawn in many different ways and creeds to become on People of God.

5) Message to bishops: Be open to change. Focus on the holiness of each individual. More ecumenism is called for.

Demographic Info: Female age 78, religious, CSJ                                                                #86

1) What constitutes a family: A group of caring, unique, committed, and supportive individuals who walk together through this life.

2) Church supports or hinders: (b: hinders)!! Many church teachings are an antithesis of what Jesus believed and would follow. Why have we gone so astray?

3) Other issues: Many of my gay friends have felt so alienated and isolated. This is such a waste. We have lost so many gifted men to the priesthood because of celibacy.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: It makes me angry and ashamed.

5) Message to bishops: The church needs to start with a clean slate on these issues and ask “What would Jesus do?” The purpose of sex is mutual support and love, not pro-creation. Jansenism and homophobia have historically ruled the day. The body is good! Sexuality is such a gift! Please add women to the upcoming discussions. We constitute well over 50% of the human race! Why not 50% of the upcoming Synod? Significant changes may be difficult and require a miracle, but I believe in miracles. Please be open to the Spirit!

Demographic Info: Female age 98, religious                                                                        #87

1) What constitutes a family: Ideally a man, woman, children. I could also see two adults of same sex parenting adopted children in a loving relationship.

2) Church supports or hinders: Contraception is already being practiced by most Catholics. The church should listen to them. Why are not married couples also a part of the Synod?

3) Other issues: I would like to see a married priesthood. The Catholic Church clergy was not always celibate.

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops: I would like to see women represented at the next Synod.

Demographic Info: Female age 81, single, religious                                                 #88

1) What constitutes a family: A family is a group living together supporting one another. Could be mom, dad, children; two moms and children; two dads and children; two women; two men; group of relatives; friends. There needs to be love, respect, support, enjoyment, growth, and contribution to society.

2) Church supports or hinders: Change needed!! Can you do it? (1) Divorce & remarriage: church rules have been hurtful and shortsighted in terms of helping people develop healthy relationships. Church needs to lift ban on remarriage. Put effort and resources into marriage counseling and services to support relationships and families however they are formed. (2) Cohabitation in USA is happening. Don’t regulate but support couples efforts to build and nurture relationships. (3) Statistics show about 90% of Catholic women support and practice birth control. So Church men wake up. Purpose of marriage is mutual love and support. Do responsible procreation. Use careful family planning. Dioceses need much better programs and counseling & education. (4) Homosexuals are people and deserve same rights and privileges. Support gay marriage!

3) Other issues: Church says it values children but provides poor services to children and youth. Young families need support. Children and teens need decent theological education. There needs to be serious theological work on sexuality. Church ignored Charles Curran. How come? Bishops seem to support only their own point of view, are not theologically educated or engaged with few exceptions (Tucson). Cannot hear the people.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Of course! People feel hurt and alienated, so they leave the Church. Women feel discounted so drift from interest in Church. Lots of hypocrisy – child abuse tolerated.

5) Message to bishops: Include women in decision making. Women priests. Bishops; re-do seminary education – live with families NOT in residence halls. Priests and bishops live in neighborhoods. They are out of touch with their people.

Demographic Info: Female age 77, single, religious                                                 #89

1) What constitutes a family: A group of people living, loving, learning, growing, praying, laughing, and committed to each other. This can be many different combinations.

2) Church supports or hinders: Both seem true sometimes. Traditional families can feel supported sometimes. But contraception rules are so outdated. To survive, families cannot always abide by church’s rules. Celibates should have input from many married couples from all over the world. Listen Church leaders to the people of God. Non-traditional families mostly have no support.

3) Other issues: Yes. If any of you men have relatives, you must know the agony your families experience. Your rules are driving people away from the Church.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: of course! Unnecessary question. It affects me too. I have worked for the Church for almost 60 years. It’s unbelievable to me that you in Rome are so removed from understanding people.

5) Message to bishops: In your deliberations, listen, especially to women, to the poor. Face reality. Mercy draws people to God. Condemnation drives people away. In the year of Mercy, please set aside your condemnation of GLBTQ and all others. We would like to have many women representatives at the Synod, as well as married couples.

Demographic Info: Female age 91, single, religious                                                             #90

1) What constitutes a family: Ordinarily one father, one mother, and whatever offspring may result from this union.

2) Church supports or hinders: I have seen all male guppies confined together because they have showy color, engage in homosexuality. I happen to know a couple men who have been partners for 56+ years. One is practicing Catholic, the other non-practicing Lutheran.

3) Other issues: Divorce (annulment) , subsequent re-marriage that seems to work.

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Female age 83, woman religious                                                           #91

1) What constitutes a family: My non-traditional description: persons committed in love to one another “for better or worse” for as long as they live

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) The institutional hierarchy of the Church, for the most part, is supportive of families if they fit the “one man / one woman and however many children” definition. (b: hinders) (1) when some pastors and officials urge couples to stay together even though psychological and/or physical harm is being done. (2) In general, it condemns same sex unions, does not minister to their needs nor the children’s if there are any. (3) Contraception – many good Christian Catholics practice contraception.

3) Other issues: (1) Develop a humane, Gospel centered annulment process. The Orthodox Church has a very pastoral approach. (I worked as a field advocate in the Tribunal for 20 years. If the annulment process is not a part of the healing ministry of the church, it does not deserve to exist.)

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I find that after 8 decades of (really I changed earlier) following and accepting all the rules, I now do not believe or accept all the disciplinary rules of the Church.

5) Message to bishops: The seminaries need courses (good courses) on human sexuality and psychology of the person. Young men in the Church – through its pastors and spiritual leaders should take strong stands against civic legislations that discriminate. I want women representatives with voice to be active in the Synod, and women theologians.

Demographic Info: Female age 87, religious                                                                        #92

1) What constitutes a family: Two parents and children; single parents; heterosexual couple and children.

2) Church supports or hinders: I think divorced and remarried should definitely not be prohibited from communion. Always must respect each person with compassion and mercy.

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church: No, but I would like women to have a prominent place at the Synod including women theologians, mothers, young women, lesbians, homosexuals.

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Female age 89, religious, CSJ                                                                #93

1) What constitutes a family: A spirit of caring, sharing, of being united in a common purpose.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) Sacramental – helping to experience God’s presence. (b: hinders) making rules more than the experience of God’s love through practices.

3) Other issues: Clergy that make the rules more important than God’s love. Is that the church – or is that the clergy formation?

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Several of the people I care about have left the Church; the structures are not necessarily the Spirit.

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Female age 79, religious                                                                        #94

1) What constitutes a family: Persons living in caring, loving, committed relationships. Includes man and woman or same sex.

2) Church supports or hinders: I experience same sex families excluded from participation in Church community. There is no place for them. I see the pain of divorced and remarried persons who are not allowed to eat at the Eucharistic table. The Church is cruel to LGBT persons by portraying them as disordered.

3) Other issues: *We want to see women included in the Synod. This includes one with the pope.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Sometimes I am ashamed to admit I am Catholic. I struggle with my relationship to a Church that does not accept.

5) Message to bishops: Seminaries – be careful to educate young men holistically. Accept all persons as Christ accepts them. Who would Jesus not accept?

Demographic Info: Female age 75, CSJ religious                                                                 #95

1) What constitutes a family: ideally a mother, father, children, grandparents. Also, those who love one another, adults who do parenting of children, who they gave birth to or adopted, and those who live with one another and support one another.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) loving and accepting people as who they are. (b: hinders) Church teachings have hurt and alienated many Catholics! The institutional church is harsh on non-traditional families.

3) Other issues: Birth control. Divorce and remarriage, single parenting through no fault of their own. Spouses that have been abandoned, abused physically and sexually.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Many in my family have left the Church over LGBT, divorce/remarriage, and birth control issues, etc.

5) Message to bishops: We need to change Catholic doctrine and attitudes to be more Christ-like. We would like to see women representatives and married couples as official members of the Synod. We ask bishops and priests to accept people genuinely as they are. We need women deacons.

Demographic Info: Male age 82, married, lay Catholic                                                        #96

1) What constitutes a family: Wife, husband, children (parents, grandparents, great grandparents)

2) Church supports or hinders: If it’s sinful then no support. If you follow the rules and accept one teaching, that’s better.

3) Other issues: (1) Pre-marital sex among our children and their relationships. (2) Married outside of the church – don’t raise their kids Catholic.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: We can’t all go to Church together and pray. They don’t seem to like praying.

5) Message to bishops: Maybe ease some rules. (I don’t want to be the one who decides.)

Demographic Info: Female age 80, married, lay Catholic                                                    #97

1) What constitutes a family: Husband, wife, children

2) Church supports or hinders: (b: hinders) (1) Once separated/divorced, no matter the reason, cannot take part in the sacraments. Why then be Catholic? (2) Same sex attraction doesn’t forbid a priest from the privilege of being priest only because he is attracted to same sex and goes no further.

3) Other issues: This law has affected three of our four children who, if permitted, would have been very influential in Catholic Church.

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops: PLEASE look carefully at same sex attraction!

Demographic Info: Female age 87, religious, Sister of St. Joseph                                       #98

1) What constitutes a family: A bonding and relationship among parents and children or even three – one child or even other relatives supporting each other.

2) Church supports or hinders: There are many splendid theologians who are outstanding women. We need women at the council to be present in the Synod on sexuality, marriage and family.

3) Other issues: If we do not accept gays and lesbians and let Church baptize them, this contradiction is the consistency.

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Female age 91, single, religious                                                 #99

1) What constitutes a family: Two people committed to each other in a shared relationship with children who are usually dependent on the adults as long as they live with them.

2) Church supports or hinders: Both

3) Other issues: The “unevenness” of decisions re: annulments on divorce in particular.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Left the Church for other Christian denomination

5) Message to bishops: I would like to see women well represented at the Synod.

Demographic Info: Female age 80, single, religious                                                 #100

1) What constitutes a family: Those who claim a relationship and care by blood and extended connection; some live in spaces close to each other’s spaces. Closer knowledge of their needs than even friends or caregivers have. Individuals who claim others as their own, not only by blood but by choice.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) vowed commitment. (b: hinders) naming individuals with pejorative words. Some of the medieval rules that prevail to separate. The present world has multiple cultures whose values differ from “Church” doctrine and values and yet may be the way God calls peoples today. Our certitude as Church that certain moral issues or claims are the way God intends does not allow or see the differences that are out there, not the multitude of cultures.

3) Other issues: To use doctrines as the final convincing/no arguing argument does not express the breadth of God’s expression of what humanity is and is called to be. Nature tells us there is evolution in many areas.

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops: Women must be legitimately recognized and present at the Synod. The Synod can set out to have present those of varied perspectives more than would be presented by celibate male clergy bound to support and maintain Church doctrine.

Demographic Info: Female age 82, single, religious                                                 #101

1) What constitutes a family: Father, mother, children, a widow or widower with children

2) Church supports or hinders: First, the Synod on the Family should include married people. There should not be planned and discussed only by those men who may never have normal…

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops: Women should be at the Synod. There are many varieties of active women in government, education, etc.

Demographic Info: Female age 77, widow, lay Catholic                                                     #102

1) What constitutes a family: Children born into a loving relationship. Safety, secure in commitment, love and faithfulness. A supportive environment and active faith life.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) I don’t see anything in supportive roles for families. (b: hinders) It looks like the whole question is negative as far as Church support goes.

3) Other issues: My gay brother does not go to Church. He isn’t in a welcoming environment at church. I hurt for him because he doesn’t have the support he needs.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes! I see rigidity and pain.

5) Message to bishops: (1) Be more aware of relationality rather than just rule and control. (2) I would like to see women well represented at the Synod. Families too. See how families interact.

Demographic Info: Female age 92, daughter, religious                                                        #103

1) What constitutes a family: Grandparents, mother, daddy, children, cousins, aunts, uncles

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) Yes

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Female age 83, religious                                                                        #104

1) What constitutes a family: Those living together in a home, sharing with each other.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) No. (b: hinders) Yes. Who is the Church? Not the bishops but the people of God.

3) Other issues: Early marriage followed by a divorce. Remarriage means out of the Church

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Has not affected me directly, but it has affected relatives and friends. Many in my family have left the church because they cannot live within the restrictions.

5) Message to bishops: How will women be represented in the Synod?

Demographic Info: Female age 83, single, religious                                                 #105

1) What constitutes a family: People living in a loving, committed relationship.

2) Church supports or hinders: At present, the hierarchical Church is not supportive to divorced and remarried Catholics since they are not permitted to receive Communion. Neither are couples supported when, for legitimate purposes such as the health of the mother, suggests the need for birth control. Likewise the “official” church teachings on same sex attraction ignores the fact that individuals do not choose this state in which they were born. Does “the Church” think that God has made a mistake?

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops: We would like to see women included as delegates at the Synod!!! This should, of course, also include women theologians and married couples!

Demographic Info: male age 73, married, lay Catholic                                                        #106

1) What constitutes a family: A family is a community not only biologically joined but also freely choosing to be joined as a basic community. It might involve one parent or two; the couple might be gay or straight. The children might be birth children or adopted. The family is all about love given and received in a primary way.

2) Church supports or hinders:

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops: (1) I would like to see the divorced and remarried welcomed fully back to Mother Church community after the opportunity for acknowledging mistakes in the dissolved marriage and express forgiveness to the former spouse. (2) I would like to see gay couples invited to bring their civil marriage to the community to have it blessed. Our experience trumps dogma. I have known many loving gay or lesbian couples, many with children, who deeply desire the blessing of the Church if not the fullness of the sacrament of marriage. (3) I would like to see us emphasize the primacy of conscience for couples as they make the difficult yet glorious decisions regarding the genital expression of their love.

Demographic Info: Female age 93, single, religious                                                 #107

1) What constitutes a family: Birth family (parents & siblings), religious life community, the merging of people from each of the above groups.

2) Church supports or hinders: The Church has not changed with the changes which have occurred in society and are still occurring (the speed of technology, family life, etc)

3) Other issues: Birth control would seem to be acceptable in order to meet the needs of a growing, educating, loving family.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: It is too late in my life to have my relationship in the Church affected.

5) Message to bishops: (1) Be constantly open to the needs of the “people of God”. (2) Embrace the value of women theologians and the lived experience of married couples at the Synod.

Demographic Info: Female age 89, widow                                                                          #108

1) What constitutes a family:

2) Church supports or hinders:

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops: There is only one God; he created all of us. He is the only one we have to account to.

Demographic Info: Female age 91, CSJ religious                                                                 #109

1) What constitutes a family: If possible, loving parents, mature adults and children

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) Church to be a good listener, compassionate, willing to hear someone’s pain, willing to walk with the pain of poor choices. (b: hinders) to not accept a person’s own experience.

3) Other issues: When the first marriage is not good for the other / a terrible mistake was the choice; damaging relationship; abusive

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Church didn’t care

5) Message to bishops: Better preparation before the marriage vows are taken. A loving couple to walk with them after engagement is announced. Women at the Synod, please.

Demographic Info: Female age 93, daughter/sibling, religious CSJ                         #110

1) What constitutes a family: parents – father, mother, children (core) and extended numbers

2) Church supports or hinders: I believe it has somewhat hindered and not fully supported needy persons.

3) Other issues: In the past, getting an annulment from a dysfunctional marriage has been very expensive and very difficult. Great need for a Christ-like pastoral approach. Example: A murderer can be forgiven (Sacrament of Reconciliation) and continue to then be a participating member in all aspects of the Church. Why is a Catholic divorced person not permitted this when he (or she) remarries?

4) Effect on relationship to Church: No.

5) Message to bishops: (1) eliminate the annulment process. (2) Please have women be participating members of the upcoming Synod – especially women theologians. (3) Discern over the present problem of a Catholic person divorced and remarried not to be allowed to participate in the sacramental life of the Church, i.e. receiving Holy Eucharist.

Demographic Info: Female age 86, single, religious                                                 #111

1) What constitutes a family: This concept is changing and we need to listen. I consider myself as belonging to more than one family: my birth family, my religious community, and the people I live with in a retirement community.

2) Church supports or hinders:

3) Other issues: (1) divorce & remarriage, (2) desertion, (3) spousal abuse, (4) same sex relationships, (5) cohabitation, (6) Mixed messages from hierarchy in USA; lack of mercy and compassion.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Some leave the Church and join others where they are accepted. Divisiveness of church leaders when they speak publically.

5) Message to bishops: Rethink some of the structures that are “man” made such as (1) annulment process, (2) Get going on rethinking contraception, (3) Having women’s voices heard at the Synod, (4) Listen to women theologians, (5) Listen to people who are living the family life from all levels of society, (6) Importance of relationships, (7) Importance of the Church being more pastoral, (8) Relationship of many issues with scientific discoveries.

Demographic Info: Female, 61, married, non-practicing                                                  #112

1) What constitutes a family: They come in many sizes and shapes, too many to enumerate

2) Church supports or hinders: Destructive unless people conform to their narrow views.

3) Other issues: Church leaders are discriminatory toward women and gays.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I am a runaway Catholic. Church is too chauvinistic. And materialistic. They need to go back to caring for the sick, the poor, the troubled.

5) Message to bishops: 1) Good friend, dying. She was a frequent attendant at daily Mass most of her life, but she was not visited once in the last months of her life by her parish priest. He was busy remodeling the rectory and raising money for a new organ. 2) At a dinner party, the local priest told sexist jokes about low functioning women. When he was challenged, he said, “The jokes wouldn’t be as funny if they were about men.” 3) At the time of Pope Francis’s election, Twin Cities had trouble finding a priest to celebrate Mass at the cathedral. They were all off to Naples to celebrate Fr. Dease’s retirement (for a week)!

Demographic Info: Male, 38, gay, non-practicing                                                                #113

1) What constitutes a family: A family is a group of people who are bound by love and day-to-day commitment. While families are most often rooted in a married couple with children, families can also be built and strengthened by those who live alone or those who have a partner, but no children.

2) Church supports or hinders: a) as being supportive to families?

Two missions of the Catholic Church jump out as supporting families. First, the Church’s consistent stance on economic social justice, a stance that has been emphasized by Pope Francis, has helped better the lives of the working poor. Second, the Church’s neighborhood-based Catholic Schools have created thousands of healthy communities in which families and children can connect and thrive.

            b) as hindering or hurting families?

The Church’s teachings on homosexuality have unnecessarily alienated thousands of young Catholics who once found a spiritual home in a parish. In a busy world that is full of more and more distractions, the Church cannot afford to be left behind as the rest of the world makes dramatic progress towards recognizing the basic dignity of gays and lesbians. Being left behind means losing the ability to attract not only dynamic young parishioners, but also dynamic priests and lay leaders. And in the end, this will lead to Churches that are increasingly irrelevant and empty.

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church: In some ways, the Vatican’s teachings on homosexuality haven’t affected my relationship with the Church. Like a lot of my generation, I have very rich and happy memories of attending Catholic Schools. And even if I usually dragged my feet as we marched off to Church every Sunday morning, I even have some fond childhood memories of Mass – the families we would see every week behind us or in front of us in the pews and the post-service chit chatting over donuts. Those memories will never go away, and I’ll always find a measure of peace in them.

Unfortunately, the church’s teachings on homosexuality have made the Church irrelevant to my day-to-day life. I attend Mass, once in a while, to reconnect with all the good memories. But that Mass is just an hour on Sunday. It won’t connect in any meaningful way to my everyday life until the Church and its leaders fully embrace my dignity and potential. In other words, I can’t be an active part of the Church community until the Church recognizes the dignity of mine.    

 

5) Message to bishops: Be bold!!

Demographic Info: Female, 78, widow, non-practicing Catholic, now Quaker              #114

1) What constitutes a family: Parent/s or someone in a parental role is the ideal. Can be a large circle of individuals who come together in common cause of caring in support of one another, to deal with dissension and disagreement while still offering unconditional love. They have each other’s back.

2) Church supports or hinders: The Church’s support for families is so conditional. Too often you have to follow all the rules and be in “good standing.” There is no room for disagreement; consequently a lot of rules become a joke. A medieval church in the 21st century does not engender much respect.

3) Other issues: Regarding contraception, we used rhythm method and conceived 2 children. We later gave up and used artificial birth control. Using that, we had 2 more children when the time was right.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: We “left” the Church due to their prohibition of artificial contraception and their denial of priesthood to women. We eventually disagreed on many more issues.

5) Message to bishops: Reform teachings on sexuality and ordain women

Demographic Info: Female, 83, married, 6 children                                                             #115

1) What constitutes a family: Any group that lives together or works together and cares about each other.

2) Church supports or hinders:

3) Other issues: Divorce/remarriage and pre-marital sex have become lived experiences in our family.

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Male, 54, single, practicing Catholic                                                     #116

1) What constitutes a family: Where there is love, caring, compassion, and understanding.

2) Church supports or hinders: I do not believe that Church is very supportive to most families. They try to support traditional families, many members of which probably don’t agree with or follow all the rules. They are too hard on the divorced and those families that aren’t the traditional family.

3) Other issues: They make many people feel shame.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: People feel alienated because of their teachings on sexuality, and they leave the Church.

5) Message to bishops: Reform the teachings.

Demographic Info: Female, 62, single, non-practicing                                                         #117

1) What constitutes a family: Traditional—husband, wife, and children + same-sex couples with adopted or their own children.

2) Church supports or hinders: Mostly hinders. Divorced and remarried are not allowed to go to Communion or be godparents. Position on contraception is wrong! Same-sex parents and same-sex marriage are driven out.

3) Other issues: My divorced niece, who has not remarried, is still not allowed to be a god parent of her niece.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Many divorced people have stopped going to Church because of the way they are treated.

5) Message to bishops: Reform/change position on divorce and remarriage.

Demographic Info: Male, 72, married                                                                                #118

1) What constitutes a family: A loving relationship among a group of human beings which promotes acceptance, support, encouragement and inspiration.

2) Church supports or hinders:

3) Other issues: Our children have been touched (hurt) by Church teachings relevant to gender preference, procreation, divorce and remarriage.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I love the Catholic Church. I embrace the sacraments that are offered to me and others, and I hold sacred the celebration of the Mass and the offering of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

5) Message to bishops: I am deeply troubled by practices which reflect an exclusive concept of Church. I am especially hopeful the Church will move in the direction of openness, more like the “field hospital” that Pope Francis speaks about and promotes.

Demographic Info: Male, 75, married, lay                                                                            #119

1) What constitutes a family: A group of people who give themselves to each other in forwarding the work of bringing on the kingdom of God (or of living more fully and honestly).

2) Church supports or hinders: The official teachings are a disaster. In my experience, the practice at the parish level, where the official teachings are often and necessarily overlooked, is humane, loving, and accepting.

3) Other issues: The Church teachings on sexuality, especially masturbation, left me deeply scarred and traumatized, a condition that I am still trying to recover from.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I have remained in the Church, and have ignored those sexual teachings that are clearly wrong (the trauma is hard to avoid, still), and wonder why the male leadership clings to these positions.

5) Message to bishops: Pay attention to the words and actions of the people of God, and let those words and actions be the major determinants of the Synod outcome. Get away from the idea that “the male leaders will decide what is right and will tell the people of God what to do.”

Demographic Info: Female, 70, married, lay                                                                        #120

1) What constitutes a family: Connected individuals in relationship committed to supporting each other toward healthy mind, body, and spirit.

2) Church supports or hinders: My associations within Catholicism (30+ years) have been most supportive. Leaders and friends take a pastoral non-judgmental approach to relationships. Perhaps my world is narrow!

3) Other issues: Whenever an individual is in pain, and the Church is unwilling or unable to help out, my heart breaks.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: So many of those raised as Catholics are continually affected in matters of sexual health.

5) Message to bishops: You can change this.

Demographic Info: Female, 74, married, lay                                                                        #121

1) What constitutes a family: It is all about commitment. Any relationship without commitment is not a family. Two people in a committed relationship constitute a family.

2) Church supports or hinders: Hinders. I know many divorced Catholics who have been hurt by the Church’s teaching on co-habitation. I grew up with the belief that this is sinful. Now, my children co-habit and I don’t have a problem with it.

3) Other issues: The whole clergy abuse of children, and the bishop cover-up of that abuse, have driven my adult children away from the Church.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: As a child and young person, I was very pious and a rule follower. I have changed, and I am confident that change is possible.

5) Message to bishops: Synods are meant to change things. If change doesn’t come out of the upcoming synod, people will be even more disillusioned with the Church.

Demographic Info: Female, 74, married, lay                                                                      #122

1) What constitutes a family: A group of people who are committed to loving one another and protecting each other.

2) Church supports or hinders: Hinders. The strict teaching of the Church on sexuality has the effect of distancing our children from it. They believe in and live by the teachings of Jesus. They also believe in accepting individuals for who they are, GLBT or straight. Many young people know the scientific fact that one’s sexual preference is inborn and cannot be changed.

3) Other issues: Strict prohibitions on remarriage after divorce and cohabitation before marriage also distance young people from the Church. They believe in the primacy of following one’s conscience.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Due to the Church’s strict teachings on sexuality our children do not attend Church and are not raising their children as Catholics.

5) Message to bishops: I hope the Synod participants will listen respectfully to the thoughts and concerns of all.

Demographic Info: Female, 53, married, lay                                                                        #123

1) What constitutes a family: A group that loves, supports, and grows together.

2) Church supports or hinders: I don’t think we can judge how people live their lives. I think all the above (contraception, same-sex attraction, divorce/remarriage) are a normal part of life. My children believe the above to be the way and not the exception.

3) Other issues: I have divorced relatives who felt alienated from Church. I have friends who are gay that have left the Church because of feeling unwelcome.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I feel less of a connection to the Catholic Church. I was a member for almost 50 years, but I left because it wasn’t inclusive. Our time, energy, and money are connected to an Episcopal church that is led by a female pastor. The LGBT members are respected and treated fairly. There is a strong social justice stance and action. The Church is about love and peace to self, each other, and the world.

5) Message to bishops: The Episcopal Church has changed many of its sexual teachings and has welcomed women priests and bishops. The Catholic Church should do the same.

Demographic Info: Male, 56, married, lay                                                                            #124

1) What constitutes a family: Two loving, committed adults. Period. Same sex, different sex, makes no difference. Children are a personal choice.

2) Church supports or hinders: Church hinders more than helps. Everyone uses birth control. Everyone masturbates. Nearly everyone has sex with their spouse before they marry. They are all natural. The Church should not condemn them. When will the Church simply acknowledge reality?

3) Other issues: Good friends that are gay left the Church because they were classified as “disordered.”

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Discouraged me from promoting Catholicism as a path for my children to follow.

5) Message to bishops: Remember the children. Help them to find a place in the Church.

Demographic Info: Male, 50                                                                                                 #125

1) What constitutes a family: A unit, a system of love, respect, honesty and trust. A family can consist of anyone. No one should define family so as to exclude loving, committed people.

2) Church supports or hinders:

3) Other issues: I no longer have any personal connection with Church teachings.

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Female, 86, single, religious                                                                 #126

1) What constitutes a family: The Church must broaden its understanding of family to include not just the whole human race, but the global family of all levels and species of life on this planet.

2) Church supports or hinders: Hinders. The Church has lost credibility in large part because of its narrow emphasis on human sexuality as distinct from the wholeness of life and the justice issues related to it. We cannot ignore the tragic global implications of over-population and the injustices that it causes.

3) Other issues: Teachings of the Church re contraception have become irrelevant and almost laughable to most of the people I regard as “family.”

4) Effect on relationship to Church: It has only added to the frustration I feel in regard to the Church. The Church has become an embarrassment, rather than a source of pride for me.

5) Message to bishops: Vatican II should inspire Synod participants.

Demographic Info: Female, 67, married, Catholic                                                               #127

1) What constitutes a family: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (Did the Church remember that God has no gender?)

2) Church supports or hinders: Church should be supportive to any family unit. Often isn’t.

3) Other issues: Yes, contraception. Why is Church concerned with conception and not concerned with responsibilities of parenthood?

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes. They are only concerned with conception and not the resulting life of the conceived.

5) Message to bishops: Change teaching on contraception.

Demographic Info: Male, 64, married, non-practicing                                                         #128

1) What constitutes a family: A group of individuals who are connected by blood relation, marriage, and/or common support system for physical and/or emotional support.

2) Church supports or hinders:

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Female, 62, married, lay                                                                        #129

1) What constitutes a family: A family constitutes parents (one man, one women, or otherwise) with children (theirs or adopted).

2) Church supports or hinders: Not supportive enough. Hurting families on their acceptance of homosexuals, birth control, fertility drugs, etc.

3) Other issues: Love is what is important. It is wrong to deny any child of God communion and participation in other sacraments because of their sexual activity.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I find it hard to say I’m Catholic because the Church is so hypocritical in many of its teachings. We all remember the priest sex abuse and bishop cover up.

5) Message to bishops: We will watch and assess the Synod outcome.

Demographic Info: Female, 65, married, non-practicing                                                  #130

1) What constitutes a family: Father, Mother, possible children, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins. Gay couples too.

2) Church supports or hinders: The Church has NOT been supportive of all families.

3) Other issues: Yes, homosexuality is not supported or fully accepted. The divorced Catholics are not allowed to receive the sacraments.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I cannot accept their positions of marriage, remarriage, all male priesthood, homosexuality, and many other issues.

5) Message to bishops: I cannot return under these circumstances.

Demographic Info: Male, 45, married, non-practicing                                                         #131

1) What constitutes a family: A man, woman and children whether natural born or adopted.

2) Church supports or hinders: Church positions hurt too many. Non-supportive.

3) Other issues: “Intrinsically disordered” individuals (in other words, homosexuals) predominate in the Curia and the priesthood making the clergy hypocrites and liars. Many are all child abusers. I can’t support such people.

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Female, 62, single, practicing                                                                #132

1) What constitutes a family: People who love each other. They may be related thru blood or not.

2) Church supports or hinders: The Church hinders many families by not accepting same sex attraction. Families will work around Church teachings, but others will leave. This will be a great loss for the Church and for these people. The Church should reconsider its position.

3) Other issues: My family, specifically the younger people, do not practice their faith. They complain openly about the Church.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I love my Church, but it saddens me. I think we can do better! This is a chance for the Church to step forward and save the next generation by accepting change and helping the people.

5) Message to bishops: Change before it’s too late.

Demographic Info: Male, 63, married, lay                                                             #133

1) What constitutes a family: The shape, form, and size of a family has many varieties –loving couples with children, single parents with children, etc. The bishops need to acknowledge and accept these variations – two or more people united in love to show their commitment and share their valued and love with each other.

2) Church supports or hinders: For the issues identified here, I can’t think of any formal teachings or practices that help families. The only cases where there has been help have been when priests ignored the letter of the law on these topics and worked to do what is best and in the interests of loving families. The practices re same sex attraction have been most hurtful and alienated friends of mine from the church.

3) Other issues: As stated above, the alienation of gay friends of mine has driven them from the church. The church’s exclusivity has been hurtful and cold, and made me question if the Church is actually acting in the spirit of Christ’s love.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: In addition to alienating and hurting friends of mine, the Church’s stances on contraception and cohabitation have made me wonder how out of touch the church is, and I question why the Church is so rigid and shows so little consideration for the needs of so many

5) Message to bishops: REFORM sexual teachings!

Demographic Info: Female, 73, lay, married, practicing                                          #134

1) What constitutes a family: People related by blood, adoption, and/or commitment to each other (even though relationships can be fractured at times).

2) Church supports or hinders: Mass, sacraments, service to the poor—all these support people. Position of remarriage after divorce, contraception, gays, sex abuse scandal (including bishop cover-up)
hinder the Church; cause us to question the Church on these policies and on doctrines.

3) Other issues: The annulment process is ridiculous and shaming. Younger adults find doctrinal mandates meaningless; they either leave the Church or ignore what’s taught.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: No longer practice!

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Male, 77, married, lay, practicing                                                          #135

1) What constitutes a family: Two or more people living together sharing costs and responsibilities, plus some type of commitment. Usually influenced by some legal or cultural basis.

2) Church supports or hinders: Church with such strict rules makes it hard for a lay person to follow the teaching and still live in today’s society and give respect to others. Makes it hard to live as an orthodox Catholic and be accepted as an example for young people. Have learned to make my own decisions and teach children to do the same.

3) Other issues: Divorce, communion (forbidden to non-Catholics), and ban on communal confession, all need to be reexamined and made more compassionate.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Have learned to think for myself and follow my conscience.

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Female, 72, married and a mother, lay, practicing                                #136

1) What constitutes a family: Adults who come together willingly to love and support one another; the addition of other generations (usually younger) to grow the family and its scope to carry on safety and ideas.

2) Church supports or hinders: Most hinders by denying support to people what have stepped outside of boundaries defined by hierarchy.

3) Other issues: I would like to see the Church be inclusive of and protective of families; not protective of its own reputation (protecting bishops and priests who should be disciplined or removed). Church should find ways to support same sex couples and supporting people who have divorced and remarried (they need help as much as anyone). Helping a family, helping it grow, helping the members grow—that should be the church’s job.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: It makes me sad to realize how excluding my church is/has become.

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Male, 62, married, non-practicing                                                         #137

1) What constitutes a family: A stable relationship based on caring between parents, children, and siblings.

2) Church supports or hinders: Most hinders. As a physician specializing in reproductive issues, I find it untenable to consider same sex attraction as some kind of perversion. We are who we are, period!

3) Other issues: The current church’s teachings UNFAIRLY interfere with contraception and assisted reproductive technologies!

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I’ve felt for a long time the Church was out of touch. As the father of two daughters, I can’t support the confining tenets of the Catholic Church, especially as they relate to women.

5) Message to bishops: 1) We’re all God’s children, and any union based on mutual love and respect should be encouraged. 2) “Families” ought to be the ones deciding how many children they should have and how they should be conceived. 3) Join the 21st (even the 20th) century and give women the voice they deserve.

Demographic Info: Female, 56, married                                                                   #138

1) What constitutes a family: A man, a woman, children, grandparents. A union of any loving couple (even same sex couples) living together and raising children together.

2) Church supports or hinders: Not supportive of all or on many important issues, such as contraception, IVF, remarriage.

3) Other issues: Church’s current positions will alienate future generations.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes, it is time for the Church to get in touch with reality on these issues. The Church is not open to the modern world as Pope John 23rd encouraged it to be. This affects all of us.

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Male, 73, married, practicing Catholic                                      #139

1) What constitutes a family: A couple (male/female or same gender) and their children (born to them or adopted); a unit

2) Church supports or hinders: Our Church is hurting and hindering too many. Church should be inclusive, not exclusive. Church politics is driving this and it is driving people away from the Church. Church should welcome divorced, remarried, same sex couples, co-habiting couples. Communion, Penance, and Last Rites certainly; perhaps not sacramental marriage.

3) Other issues: Church teachings on marriage and homosexuality have resulted in a daughter leaving the Church. Restrictive Church practices have turned our sons away.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I still attend Mass and the sacraments, but it is hard to see so many people turned away and turning away by a non-welcoming church, and a non-responsive hierarchy.

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Female 66 , divorced and remarried, occasional practice                      #140

1) What constitutes a family: A family is a set of people connected by blood or by choice, and held together by shared experiences, love, history, concern, and empathy.

2) Church supports or hinders: The Catholic Church as supported only one very narrow view of family. I was raised in a traditional Catholic home, attended parochial schools and sent my daughters to Catholic schools. It saddens me to see them reject the church because of its dictates and hypocrisy. But I struggle with the same issues. The church is losing the best and brightest of our children by refusing to reevaluate.

3) Other issues: Because I remarried, I am not allowed to participate in the sacraments. I ignore the rule, as the Mass and communion still give me a sense of spirituality I cannot find in other churches.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: In the past, I have been able to compartmentalize my disagreements with the church and still attend Mass. But the past year has been more difficult for me. Sometimes I’m almost embarrassed to admit to being Catholic. I’m more hopeful with the new pope.

5) Message to bishops: If things don’t change soon, I, along with many others, will lose hope in the Church.

Demographic Info: Female, 74, religious                                                                #141

1) What constitutes a family: There is a current legal definition, but also an emotional spiritual definition.

2) Church supports or hinders: Church is hindering families primarily by its teaching and practices surrounding contraception and divorce/remarriage. I think of Bernard Haring writing that marriage is a sacrament of love and when the love ceases to exist, marriage ceases to be a sacrament. I remember that Mussolini encouraged the Church to prohibit contraception in order to help populate Italy.

3) Other issues: Church should encourage not prohibit women priests.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: All of the above has made me skeptical about the teaching authority of the Church.

5) Message to bishops: Be honest. Be brave. Reform the teachings.

Demographic Info: Female, 82, mother/grandmother                                              #142

1) What constitutes a family: A head or heads, adult person/s (single or married), with youth, children in their care – together in a unit working/playing/caring for and about each other. Developing body, soul, mind of all in a positive manner.

2) Church supports or hinders: Church is hindering by excluding some for outreach and sacraments, and by judging using rigid dogmatic guidelines.

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops: Invite all to the table. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide us all in this discernment. We must find a way to reach out to our youth!!!

Demographic Info: Male, 86, married, lay/resigned priest                                       #143

1) What constitutes a family: A basic institution of society consisting of committed relationships and development of children, all living in a household together.

2) Church supports or hinders: The fundamental faith of Catholic Christianity is/can be very supportive for families, but the over emphasis of institutional demands on priests and lay is misdirected and harmful to many.

3) Other issues: So, so many! The Church leaders must keep their views of sexuality, marriage, and family in line with professionals in the natural and social sciences. The priests, including the bishops, generally have not preached the gospel but have proclaimed practices, many of which are not substantiated by professional inquiry (sexuality and marriage in particular). Priests must re-examine their proper role and focus primarily on the gospel.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Embarrassment !!! I reject the blatant authority grab and the absence of due process in the institution.

5) Message to bishops: Listen to the voice of the people. Include mature, well informed, committed women when addressing religious policies. Be open the faith of the people and don’t kneel to institutional correctness.

Demographic Info: Male, 54, married                                                                      #144

1) What constitutes a family: Persons who love each other and are committed to each other and who live together.

2) Church supports or hinders: There are so many examples of Church hindering its people. Here is an example not of the Church bringing happiness to a family but of a pastoral associate and pastor doing that. A mother felt guilty because her young child was not yet baptized and was being pressured by her mother to “go through the motions.” She went to see the pastoral associate at the local parish. The mother was reassured by a pastoral associate that grace would be given, and a time would come, when baptism would be “just right.” Sure enough, when the child was seven, she had her baptism and first communion on the same day. She drew the artwork for the program, she chose the hymns, she baked the Eucharistic bread. After her immersion baptism, family and friends processed through the church singing and out to the Shrine of St. Francis, where the pastor led us in celebrating a First Communion Mass. The child gave a daisy to each person who attended. That day will live in the family’s heart always.

3) Other issues: The Church caused another family great pain and great stress. My brother was seeking an annulment from his first marriage, one that he had entered into at a young age. Two children had been born during the marriage. The partners were both cradle Catholics and educated in Catholic schools through college. Their communication with each other was never substantive. The annulment was denied, and was appealed. Many months dragged by. During the annulment process, I received a telephone call from a priest in a large metropolitan area. I had never met this person. He proceeded to ask me very intimate questions about my bother’s life and marriage of 20 years. His question, while exceedingly personal, were asked in a totally colorless tone of voice. The questions seemed loaded. It was incredibly painful. I felt that by answering honestly I would be destroying my brother’s chances of an annulment.

The annulment eventually came through, but the entire process was humiliating and degrading. Where was the compassion of Jesus in the process?

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops: Until the church begins to teach the breadth of gospel teaching rather than only issues relating to sexuality, its credibility will be compromised. Issues of social justice, equality of women in the church, care for planet earth--including responsible reproduction—must be addressed by any organization claiming to be followers of Jesus the Christ.

Demographic Info: Female, 75, married; 2nd marriage, lay                                              #145

1) What constitutes a family: love makes a family.

2) Church supports or hinders: Church teachings, and often personnel, are not supportive or welcoming to many of today’s families. The hierarchy has no idea of today’s families and the issues they face.

3) Other issues: The teaching on contraception. Everyone in my family, including me, has ignored it. My gay son has left the church because of its non-welcome.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I stay in the church because of my faith commitment. I ignore the hierarchy for the most part.

5) Message to bishops: Get a clue as to today’s family and start dealing with real issues.

                                                                                                                                                #146

Demographic Info: Female, 82, married for 58 years, lay (husband is a permanent deacon)

1) What constitutes a family: 2 people who make a decision to live together for their common good and those born to them or adopted by them.

2) Church supports or hinders: Church hinders families when they leave anyone who enters our worship space and is made to feel unwelcome. My own parish (Guardian Angels in Oakdale) is a very welcoming church and tries to practice unconditional acceptance. Example: Our former priests’ residence is now a family residence for those temporarily homeless.

3) Other issues: We have 7 children and made a decision to have my tubes tied after the last child was born. This decision came after much prayer and discernment. We now have a multi mixed racial family.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: We have not let the many problems/abuses in the Church affect our relationship with the Church because we know we were doing the right thing (including the tying of tubes) for our family. We have no guilt.

5) Message to bishops: Please trust that the adult member of the Catholic Church can feel free to make decisions that are best for them!!! Please REALLY LISTEN and RESPECT everyone as sacred. WE ALL HAVE A SACRED STORY. HOLD EACH WITH LOVE.

Demographic Info: Female, 78, active (liberal) Catholic                                                      #147

1) What constitutes a family: A group of people committed to one another in love, caring, support, respect, and sharing a common space together. The church should not define family.

2) Church supports or hinders: I believe that, in general, the Church has tended to interpret teaching too dogmatically, and has not moved forward to address the needs of families in the areas of divorce and remarriage, contraception, and same sex attraction. In my experience, many families are leaving or have left the Church or they disregard these teachings. I think the Church teaches inclusivity but doesn’t practice it.

3) Other issues: Yes, several family members have left the Church permanently

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I have become a feminist fighting for the rights of women in the Church.

5) Message to bishops: Practice what you preach.

Demographic Info: Male, 56                                                                                                 #148

1) What constitutes a family: Biological ties; choice based on values; spiritual ties

2) Church supports or hinders: Church supports those who fit their narrow definition. They don’t support the rest.

3) Other issues: Old, celibate men should not be making sexual decisions for others.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Their views make church authority/hierarchy less believable/tolerable.

5) Message to bishops: Disperse and step aside for the Common Good.

Demographic Info: Female, 80, single/widowed, practicing lay person                           #149

1) What constitutes a family: Any group that self-identifies as family. Church does not need to define.

2) Church supports or hinders: Supports some; causes pain and suffering to others.

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops: Use socio-psycho-economic data to base policies and reformulations on.

Demographic Info: Male, 73, married, lay                                                                            #150

1) What constitutes a family: Family are those with whom you have a blood relation, or relationship through marriage, and/or life commitment.

2) Church supports or hinders: Church should provide ritual and community support to all families. They are now ignoring the human variety of the marriage experience. Are being unsupportive of the struggles that are normal with the variety of life situations.

3) Other issues: Church is clinging to a primitive prejudice that devalues same sex relationships.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I’m more skeptical about the wisdom of the institutional Church’s teachings.

5) Message to bishops: Embrace the variety of human experience in family relationships.

Demographic Info: Male, 75, married, practicing at St. William’s                                       #151

1) What constitutes a family: A pair or group living together and supporting each other.

2) Church supports or hinders: Church should meet families where they are. Church should speak out against spouses who control the others. Dominance usurps love. It is not Christian.

3) Other issues: My brother and one daughter have become alienated by Church position.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Priests and bishops have sexually abused my siblings. They should be defrocked immediately.

5) Message to bishops: Church should not be phony. Think and act like Jesus.

Demographic Info: Female, 75, single/divorced, lay                                                            #152

1) What constitutes a family: It is a community of loving and caring people who stand by each other and support one another. Not necessarily biological.

2) Church supports or hinders: Not supportive enough. The rigidity of Church teachings, not the teaching of Jesus, has been a hindrance in my personal life.

3) Other issues: The archaic attitude toward divorced people ostracizes them and we often leave the Church entirely.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: As a divorcee, many years ago at the sign of peace at Mass, some people refused to share the peace sign with me. This attitude has also affected my 3 children.

5) Message to bishops: It is time to reevaluate your attitudes and beliefs! You are driving people away instead of embracing and healing those who are wounded.

Demographic Info: Female, 78, widow with grown children                                #153

1) What constitutes a family: People who support each other (parent/child, work group, man/women, same sexes, Bible study group

2) Church supports or hinders: They support only if certain conditions are met. They should not suggest others are going to hell (the great intimidation). The Franciscan church I belonged to was satisfying, but not the churches with priests from the archdiocese.

3) Other issues: I do not agree with their position on birth control, nor in obedience to a husband, nor in obedience to a church. I am repulsed by John Paul II’s idea that women can only be spiritual if pregnant!!!

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I finally decided RC Church is not for me. Catholic meaning universal, yes. Communion as a relationship with Jesus is good, it is not a relationship with the Church.

5) Message to bishops: Treat all people with dignity, welcome, respect regardless of sex, color, sexuality.

Demographic Info: Female, 55, single, practicing baptized lay Catholic                 #154

1) What constitutes a family: It depends. It truly varies. It can be adults with children, or only adults. To me, love is central to what constitutes families.

2) Church supports or hinders: Supports in a very limited and narrowly defined ways. Hinders and hurts divorced remarried. Rules seem mostly about control. Lack of listening, hearing the people.

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church: It saddens me and troubles me that our bishops seem to believe they know everything; that their sole job is to teach, not to be part of the community of baptized Catholics. Bishops must listen.

5) Message to bishops: I want the Synod on the Family to send a message that is loving and welcoming, open to inviting everyone. I want to hear that we are all welcome to come to the Catholic Church and be at the Catholic Eucharistic table. I want to see, hear, know, and believe that my Catholic bishops are listening and receptive to our experiences and to the needs of our families.

Demographic Info: Female, 71, married, lay practicing Catholic.                            #155

1) What constitutes a family: A family is two or more who live together or have lived together, often blood relatives, but not always. A family is those who, when you go there, take you in,

2) Church supports or hinders: The Church seems focused on setting out rules to follow that allow hierarchy control of lay people. The threat of exclusion is more prominent than the idea of the good news. One arm of the Church seems to say on the “worthy” can participate, while the charity of feeding and housing welcomes all. The Church needs to recognize all as worthy human beings.

3) Other issues: One of my sons married a divorced person, divorced her and remarried. He feels totally unwelcome and does not attend any liturgy. I have two children still attending church, and 3 who have married outside the faith and no longer attend.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: It is very frustrating that all the goodness of the church is lost on too many because of the exclusionary attitude.

5) Message to bishops: Be more forgiving. Embrace every person.

Demographic Info: Female, 72, lay, questioning                                                      #156

1) What constitutes a family: A group of individuals working for the good of each and for the group.

2) Church supports or hinders: The official church should be supportive and compassionate to those who disagree with the official stance on contraception, same sex attraction, and divorce/remarriage. It should focus on issues of real importance, like justice, equality, and economic redistribution. It should stop acting like a military church.

3) Other issues: My daughter married outside the Church because she could not abide the injustices and abuses.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I no longer believe in hell or a judging god. Eucharist is everywhere. Grace is alive and found in everyone.

5) Message to bishops: Still considering whether I will give attention to the Synod. Without us, the bishops are nothing.

Demographic Info: Female, 48, married, non-practicing                                      #157

1) What constitutes a family: People who are committed to living with one another by choice or by birth.

2) Church supports or hinders: The Church leaders are arrogant, wrong, destructive and evil to try to control other people. Their choices are theirs. They are only successful in imposing it upon those who agree with them anyway and those too impoverished, uneducated, and trapped in their culture to resist. Their stance on homophobia is perverted and hurtful. Their stance on abortion and birth control disempowers women, especially in the third world. We know that empowering women is the key to bettering the lives of children, especially in the third world. The Catholic Church purports to be for the poor but, Mother Theresa included, it is one of the strongest forces keeping the poor impoverished and disempowered.

3) Other issues: I saw a librarian at St. Mark’s School, a woman that we all loved, fired because she was getting a divorce. Having had more sexual relationships then I assume any of the bishops at the Synod have had, I can attest to the fact that not all turn out to be healthy and happy. That doesn’t mean the people involved can’t move on and find a healthy, happy marriage, family and home. I also have a brother and two brothers-in-law that are gay. I can’t bear what the Church teaches about their sexual orientation. I have friends who have lived the one life they have in the closet deprived of their own sexuality because they grew up in the Catholic culture. These people are lonely. They are not full adults. And they do not know how happy they should have been.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I have “left” the Church. The people I refer to above and MORE strongly gripping the Catholic Church. I want to stress perversion because there is no denying that mental perversion is strongly in play. One has joined the priesthood while confiding to me that he is simply happy to live in a dorm with other closeted men and shower together. The other is obsessed with being humble and not making her own happiness a goal in her life. She seems to get a weird pride and a sense of security out of her misery and her ability to keep herself small and unfulfilled.

5) Message to bishops: Humble yourselves. Look yourselves in the mirror. Seek happiness and spread it from there. Admit and allow your own sexuality. If you honestly don’t have one, fine, but then you really are truly unfit to preach not just on sexual practices but are unfit to preach to society. Society is based on coupling, biologically and socially. Understand that, celebrate that, and get out of the way. Serve humanity. If there is a god, I’m sure god would prefer it. If not, at least you won’t be irrelevant and/or an asshole.

Demographic Info: Female, 78, single, active Catholic/former nun                         #158

1) What constitutes a family: Family is a very diverse and complex concept. To me, a family is any group of people gathered together and committed to the well-being of one another in love and sharing. Examples: roommates can be family; a convent of nuns are family; a gay couple can be family.

2) Church supports or hinders: The Church often offers many services and the sacraments that support families. But the Church hinders families in many ways. 1) The Church teaching on contraception are hurtful barriers in families. 2) The non-recognition and inclusion of divorced and remarried is very hurtful to these families. 3) The refusal to allow gay and lesbian couples to receive communion is hurtful. 4) The refusal to recognize married priests and to use them in ministry, while accepting married Episcopalian priests, is hurtful. 5) The Church’s refusal to recognize women as equals in all Church positions, including ordination to the priesthood, is hurtful. In all of these cases, the Church is wrong and is guilty of doing harm to others.

3) Other issues: All of the above issues have affected my nuclear and extended family over several generations.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes, all of the above has negatively affected my relationship with the Church hierarchy, bishops and priests, but I refuse to quit and I will fight for my rights as a baptized Catholic.

5) Message to bishops: End clericalism! Listen to the people of God!

Demographic Info: Female, 70, married, practicing Catholic                                   #159

1) What constitutes a family: A group of people who live together and function as a unit with housing, food, and possibly childcare. Sometimes related by blood.

2) Church supports or hinders: So much harm being done, especially when some are made to feel unwelcome and denied the sacraments. The Catholic Church should welcome all who want to participate.

3) Other issues: Several relatives have quit attending church as they don’t feel welcome. Mainly divorce and remarriage has affected them.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I now question the ways that teachings or practices are decided and how they are interpreted. As in “The Wizard of Oz,” the curtain has been pulled back and we see very fallible, often weak, rigid and sometimes unfeeling, men at the wheel.

5) Message to bishops: Families need support to be healthy and happy. Welcome them all so they can gain the graces of the church and the strength of community.

Demographic Info: Male, 71, married, practicing                                                     #160

1) What constitutes a family: A group of loving people who share values and support one another.

2) Church supports or hinders: VIA – Couple to Couple is supportive. However, the annulment process is too judgmental and invasive. This is hurtful of individuals who no long are engaged in a loving relationship.

3) Other issues: Need to have more options for couples to reconcile with Church teachings on marriage, divorce, and same sex unions.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Our children and some of our friends have left the church because of its rigidity regarding marital issues and homosexuality.

5) Message to bishops: There is a need for more understanding and acceptance of marriage and its difficulties.

Demographic Info: Female, 82, divorced, practicing Catholic                             #161

1) What constitutes a family: 2 or more people who commit to live together and hopefully grow in faith together, nurturing and loving one another.

2) Church supports or hinders: Problem is the official Church teachings are not open to discussion and study.

3) Other issues: I still struggle with divorce and remarriage. I have separated from my husband, though practically speaking, I’m divorced. My daughter got a legal divorce and wants to remarry. She is listening to friends telling her that she must think of making herself happy. The Church doesn’t talk like that.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: My daughter no longer goes to Church!

5) Message to bishops: Talk to us. Where is the compassion and inclusivity for those who have left the church? We need to reach out and acknowledge their struggles.

Demographic Info: Female, 65, Married 37 years, practicing                                  #162

1) What constitutes a family: People that consistently live together in a household and are committed to each other and concerned about the well being of all.

2) Church supports or hinders: a) Marriage between a man and a woman is affirmed, which is good, but it leaves many families out. b) Many people are struggling around issues of divorce, remarriage, cohabitation, contraception, and homosexuality. The church is basically more condemning than helpful around all of these issues. Their bottom line is that all of the above are sins. How can there be understanding or dialogue if this is where the Church stands?

3) Other issues: The expectation that couples must have children, or cannot plan the number of children they have and when they have them using birth control, is a barrier. Another BIG problem is the way the institutions regards women and their status in the church.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: My husband and I do not abide by many church teachings, and we think the Church needs to re-evaluate its teachings.

5) Message to bishops: Be OPEN, look at the realities of life for many people today. Be more pastoral, merciful, compassionate. Think what Jesus would do. Would he be so judgmental? Would he exclude so many?

Demographic Info: Female, 77, single/former nun/retired, practicing                      #163

1) What constitutes a family: Blood relationship, parents and kids. But also friends who come together to share joys and struggles. Support and acceptance of each of who they are, as they are. We’re at the table together, all have a place. Because I’m single, my family now are my sisters and brother, and my nieces and nephews, and my great nieces and nephew. I’m the matriarch and they honor me, and I them.

2) Church supports or hinders: The Church teachings as they stand do not support families as they should. Our Church is too patriarchal and is a monarchy. The hierarchy does not really listen to and journey with families (and all people) in their pain, hurts, and struggles. We do have some priests who are compassionate and caring. We need the charisms (gifts) of all - women, men, young, old, religious, and clerics. This year of Mercy could be a wonderful time for dialogues and forgiveness. We need to welcome all to the table, especially GLBTs and the divorced and remarried.

3) Other issues: All of the problems discussed in the position paper and here tonight are present in my family. I have a sister who is divorced and has felt so alienated. I have nieces and nephews who are divorced and in new relationships. I love them all – so should the church.

Also the priest sexual abuse and bishop cover up has to end! It’s time for optional celibacy!!!

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Let’s admit our dysfunction. Let’s go forward and rediscover Vatican II.

5) Message to bishops: Collaborate with the people of God. Work for consensus. Listen to ALL! Let us practice the joy of the Gospel again. Address the role of women. Women are equal to men and should have all the same privileges and responsibilities. Keep the spirit of Vatican II alive. (It has been squelched in the last few decades.)

Demographic Info: Female, 57, married, practicing                                                 #164

1) What constitutes a family: People who care about each other and love one another.

2) Church supports or hinders: They are supportive of traditional families and traditional marriage. Enabling priests to marry would make them smarter about real life and thus more supportive.

3) Other issues: My children have turned off to the church. They now prefer non-denominational churches.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I think Church teachings do not speak to young people. I think the Mass should be renewed.

5) Message to bishops: Maybe you need to ask the youth what would make them comfortable in the church, and what reforms they would need.

Demographic Info: Male, 63, married with children/grandchildren, practicing#165

1) What constitutes a family: Those who feel welcome in our home or are extended welcome. This keeps us in mind of being open to all.

2) Church supports or hinders: The Church is stuck in an antiquated mode of defining family and therefore what are family issues. Too often does church authority express what is proper or improper, hence imposing judgment and shame, rather than understanding and support.

3) Other issues: I have found that I can no longer be fully committed because the laity pay for the insurance that the Church uses to cover their past abuses by priests.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I have found that the leadership that I once viewed as an impediment has now fallen into the inconsequential category. I have relationships in spite of what leadership says.

5) Message to bishops: How can you expect that you should be seen as having authority on family/sexual issues?

Demographic Info: Female, 66, married, non-practicing                                          #166

1) What constitutes a family: Two or more beings who are committed to love and support, guide and listen, nurture and protect each other and to respect each other.

2) Church supports or hinders: Church hinders more than supports. We must listen to each other with Jesus in our hearts. We must find an inclusive way to help each other, to accept each other as Jesus would. The written words/rules/dogmas have not helped us.

3) Other issues: Only one example of the Church hindering. I married my husband in the court after 10 years of cohabitation. We are stronger than ever. We had intended to have our marriage blessed by a priest, but my husband changed his mind due to the priest sex abuse scandal and the bishops who covered up for them.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I cannot receive communion. My husband is angry with the church, as I am. But my commitment to my husband is strong. I am out. I am invisible.

5) Message to bishops: There are many former Catholics who are very hurt and angry and now alone. The church must find a loving bridge, as do the rest of us, as best we can. I love God with all my heart. I pray every day for a solution, for all of us. God bless the world. No exceptions.

Demographic Info: Female, 65, married (divorced and remarried), practicing                    #167

1) What constitutes a family: Some adults with or without children who care for each other and commit to taking care of each other for at least a period of time and then keeping in touch and “being there” for each other when needed.

2) Church supports or hinders: The official teachings are not supportive of non-traditional families. You can sometimes find individual members of the church who are supportive.

3) Other issues: My niece, who is homosexual, used to be very active in the church. She is in a committed relationship with another woman so doesn’t feel that the Catholic Church will accept her. She doesn’t go to church anymore.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: If I hadn’t been able to get an annulment, I would have felt forced to go to a different church.

5) Message to bishops: Be more open to good people of all kinds.

Demographic Info: Female, 66, divorced, non-practicing                                        #168

1) What constitutes a family: A parent or parents along with children. A couple of committed people.

2) Church supports or hinders: Catholic schools are supportive if you aren’t LGBT. Church teachings are man made determinations based on the times and needs of the people living during other periods of time. The world’s needs are different now and should be considered.

3) Other issues: During the early years of my marriage I was greatly conflicted about using contraception as were many of my Catholic friends. Most of us grew out of it.

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops: Consider the global issues of population, poverty and equal rights in determining Church teachings about family and related issues.

Demographic Info: Male, 66, married, non-practicing                                          #169

1) What constitutes a family: Man and woman; parents and children.

2) Church supports or hinders: Does both. Divorce, remarriage, contraception, all are inevitable. People should not be punished or held in low regard on these issues.

3) Other issues: Rules that are made on sexuality by those who are supposedly celibate are completely out of touch.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Unreasonable positions on these issues destroys the Church’s credibility.

5) Message to bishops: Listen to the people. Church leaders are not the only ones who know right from wrong.

Demographic Info: Female, 64, married, cradle Catholic who has recently become non-practicing                                                                                                                                   #170

1) What constitutes a family: Two or more people sharing a life together.

2) Church supports or hinders: The church is involved at marriages and baptisms. My experience is that the Church lays burdens of guilt and shame with its teachings on sexuality. Its teaching on contraception is outdated and burdensome.

3) Other issues: My mother had 8 rhythm babies and died at 60 a worn out woman. My daughter is divorced and is remarrying outside the church. She loves the church but feels excluded.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I have felt guilty using artificial contraception. I stopped attending Church due to the heavy handedness of Benedict.

5) Message to bishops: Tell Francis to offer more than words to the lost sheep.

Demographic Info: Female, 67, married, practicing                                                 #171

1) What constitutes a family: Two adults with children.

2) Church supports or hinders: Not supportive with contraception and divorce.

3) Other issues: My daughter is married to a divorced man. She could not get married in the Catholic Church because of this. She had nothing to do with the divorce, but yet paid the price of not being able to marry in her church.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: No. She and her children continue to go to church. She is even a lector at the church.

5) Message to bishops: Be more open to marriages that involve divorce. Each couple’s relationship is unique to them and needs to be looked at individually.

 

Demographic Info: Male, 74, married, practicing                                                                 #172

1) What constitutes a family: Parents and offspring.

2) Church supports or hinders: Most hinders. Many feel that the policy of strict adherence to church laws/rules hinders their desire to participate fully. It discourages them from “keeping the faith.”

3) Other issues: Divorce issues. Sacramental practices.

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops: Maintain traditional ways for the most part with more flexibility for situational circumstances.

                                                                                                                                    #173

Demographic Info: Female, 70, married, belong to 2 churches (Catholic and Lutheran)

1) What constitutes a family: 2 or more, could be a group, who are committed to one another united hopefully by love and caring for one another.

2) Church supports or hinders: Is supportive through Gospel teaching and sacraments. Hinders by being exclusive more than inclusive, by being too legalistic (non-negotiables), favors only the traditional family, contraception rules are impractical.

3) Other issues: When we were married in 1969, my husband had to sign papers saying that children were to be raised Catholic. There is little recognition of other Christian religions as being part of one, holy, Catholic Church.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes. I am not a practicing Catholic and a Lutheran because Lutherans (ELCA) have open and welcoming communion.

5) Message to bishops: Be more open. Have representation by all (not just bishops).

Demographic Info: Male, 69, married, Lutheran/wife Catholic                                           #174

1) What constitutes a family: Committed people loving each other, helping each other, nurturing and trying to make each person stronger in faith and justice.

2) Church supports or hinders: Catholic Church is not very supportive. Very divisive, much guilt often drives people out. Church is a place of sinners and saints.

3) Other issues: I speak as a Lutheran who used to have a lot of respect for my wife’s church. I have come to see many problems: 1. Not inclusive. 2. Judgmental. 3. Male dominated. 4. Little appreciation of nuns and the other women who have contributed so much.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes, I have been married to a Catholic for 46 years but couldn’t/wouldn’t convert because of the issues I just related.

5) Message to bishops: Be more like Jesus, accepting, forgiving and loving. Why would he want to make us feel so bad for just being human?

Demographic Info: Female, age 51, married legally in same sex relationship, lay Catholic #175

1) What constitutes a family: People who love each other, live together, worship together, raise children together or who say we are a family.

2) Church supports or hinders: Depends on the parish. There are too few open and affirming, welcoming churches for GLBT persons and their families. When they preached against the marriage amendment, it hurt me and many in my family.

3) Other issues: Disallowing communion for anyone, because of divorce, co-habitation, or GLBT persons – anytime you refuse communion is wrong in my opinion.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes, I stopped giving any money back in 2010, and I went from being a catechist and good donor, weekly mass goes, to today where I can scarcely attend mass, give not one dime and no longer let my kids serve at mass; and I am not a catechist.

5) Message to bishops: The Church should be a bridge to God, not a gate.   To our local archbishop: Resign.

Demographic Info: Female age 79, married, lay Catholic                                                    #176

1) What constitutes a family: A group of folks, connected by biology or choice, that provides stability, support and love for one another.

2) Church supports or hinders: It is difficult to pin-point. In my experiences, my parish tries to be supportive, but families are over-extended (intimate activities). Sometimes parishes don’t have the resources or imagination to support families.

3) Other issues: Five children in seven years. I’m glad we had them, but that was years ago. Why does the Church keep belaboring contraception? The train has left the station.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: The whole issue on women is tied into sexual issues. Sexism in the church has made me adversarial. It is a key thing.

5) Message to bishops: Change can be a good thing. Risk.

Demographic Info: Male age 74, married, practicing lay Catholic                                       #177

1) What constitutes a family: In its traditional sense, it is a legal institution generated by a marriage of two heterosexuals and their progeny. In today’s world, it is a group of persons joined together by a search for community.

2) Church supports or hinders: The traditional family is the ideal based on Church teachings. But the Church must also now become open to assisting “families” on the periphery such as cohabitation / immigrants / incarcerated.

3) Other issues: Divorce in the Church has forced my sister and some friends (couple) to participate in annulment procedures.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: The couple had to appeal all the way to Rome.

5) Message to bishops: Families on the periphery need care also.

Demographic Info: Female age 72, single, practicing Catholic                                            #178

1) What constitutes a family: Self-identified persons who support one another in spiritual and social structure.

2) Church supports or hinders: Church teachings and practices are unrealistic at present, immature and irrelevant sexual attitudes.

3) Other issues: Exclusion from the Table at times of natural reconciliation: baptism, marriage, funerals.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Second class or unwelcome status of divorced.

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Male age 76, married, lay Catholic                                                        #179

1) What constitutes a family: Three or more persons living together by choice – long term relationship.

2) Church supports or hinders: a) They are supportive when they are interpreted in a way that is respectful – Bernard Haring.

b) Teachings and practices hinder families in each of these areas (divorce & remarriage, cohabitation, contraception, and same sex attraction) when they are rule centered.

3) Other issues: No, these are the main ones that have affected ones I care about.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes, one of my children is not a church member largely because of this.

5) Message to bishops: Listen to all families, not only those the bishop may choose to listen to.

Demographic Info: Female age 65, married, lay Catholic                                                    #180

1) What constitutes a family: People consistently living in a common household that are bonded by continuing relationships. People who consistently live together and feeling of bonding.

2) Church supports or hinders: The Church is not very supportive of people around most of those issues listed above. Pretty much every issue is dealt with in black and white – “this is plain wrong and that’s the bottom line.” Where’s the true dialog?

3) Other issues: All the issues listed in #2 above have affected some of my family / relatives. Also - having children – people can choose – Church says you have to have kids.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Some have broken with the Church, no longer attend church. Some go to Catholic churches but just do what they are doing and just be who they are without any discussion or acknowledgement.

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Male age 81, single, lay Catholic                                               #181

1) What constitutes a family: Spiritual based living arrangement.

2) Church supports or hinders:

3) Other issues: Divorce, contraception, married priests, women priests

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Female age 72, single, lay, member intentional Eucharistic community #182

1) What constitutes a family: Family is who I define mine to be and whomever needs to be included.

2) Church supports or hinders: [Church supports] only some families – those who are safe, typical, representative. [Church hinders] hurting the “families on the periphery, non Beaver-Cleaver, non nuclear families!

3) Other issues: Gay nephew that by definition what is “acceptable” in the Church, people are excluded, shown the door out, and intentionally dismissed. Nephew who “left” the church to join a community – “non-Catholic” of their choice. Now 28 years later 4 grown children, divorcing and again excluded furthering his peripheral life in the church and his family.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes, we would not act this way in our own homes – and hopefully not with our own family members. Why is it tolerated in our churches?

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Male age 59, married, Active lay Catholic                                            #183

1) What constitutes a family: Self-discovered definition.

2) Church supports or hinders: a) support: Practices and procedures that encourage individual growth: worship of the divine; building of parish community; fostering service of others.

b) Practices and procedures that hinder 1) worship of the divine, 2) building of parish community, 3) fostering service to others.

3) Other issues: Practices and policies defined so sharply that they alienate thinking, educated men and women.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I question – am I Catholic and why should I be one? What’s in it for me? I see families discuss the same thing.

5) Message to bishops: Open understanding of discussion and realize change does happen with tradition and scripture if our Divine presence is a living presence. That is the definition of living.

Demographic Info: Female age 79, member of a “religious” community                             #184

1) What constitutes a family: biological and “beyond” including other species: cats, dogs, etc, family pets.

2) Church supports or hinders: a) Supports: If the people in “official” leadership would listen.

b) hindering or hurting: When people, “official” clergy, live by and implement the letter of the law and NOT listening to the hurting families. We all need to learn what it is like to wear another person’s (family’s) moccasins.

3) Other issues: Issues of reproductive choices. How we define “marriage.”

4) Effect on relationship to Church: The “Catholic Church” is losing credibility.

5) Message to bishops: Stay strong in confronting unjust systems and policies and practices that alienate the Faithful people of our church and people of “Faith” of all other denominations too.

Demographic Info: Female age 76, single, lay Catholic                                                       #185

1) What constitutes a family: Biological and close friendships.

2) Church supports or hinders: a) Supports: Those who are married. b) Hinders: Those who are divorced, using contraception, remarried or who have same sex relationships.

3) Other issues: We need more priests and need to have married men and female priests.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Men dominating our Church do not consider the needs of women too.

5) Message to bishops: Consider changes that can be made and listen to the needs of both men, women, single or married.

Demographic Info: Male age 71, married 47 years, lay Catholic, Social Justice Activist   #186

1) What constitutes a family: Mother, father, sons and daughter, grandma & grandpa, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins, grand kids.

2) Church supports or hinders: I support my gay nephew and his friends. I worked to defeat the marriage amendment [limiting marriage to one man and one woman]. My gay nephew came up to me at a family funeral after he noticed the “another Catholic voting NO” bumper sticker on my car and gave me a hug. He thanked me for my taking an open stand for gay rights.

3) Other issues: Church’s negative positions and treatment of women has definitely challenged my daughter’s Catholic faith. Prohibiting married priests, women clergy, contraception, etc, etc.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: My daughter was a product of Catholic education – grade school, high school, and college – and is trying to raise her children in the Faith, hard time finding a Vatican II parish in Seattle, Wa. She questions the security of her children as a result of sexual abuse by priests and cover up by bishops and Vatican.

5) Message to bishops: Get real, start living in the 21st Century. Stop trying to go back to the 16th Century.

Demographic Info: Male age 73, married, lay Catholic                                                        #187

1) What constitutes a family: a family is a group of people in social relationship.

2) Church supports or hinders: Church practices implement teachings harmful to families.

3) Other issues: The treatment of divorced women drove my daughter out of church. The treatment of gays drove my son out of the church during prep for confirmation. He ended up a Quaker.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: See above.

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Female age 84, Lay Catholic                                                                 #188

1) What constitutes a family: mom, 5 adult children, 17 grand children, 13 great grand children. Gentleman age 84…God saved the best till last

2) Church supports or hinders: My family needs healing. We trust God

3) Other issues: Annulments history. Rejected by others in parish.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Broken family. Priest / child molesting Hurt & broken

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Female age 60, single, lay Catholic                                                       #189

1) What constitutes a family: Me!

2) Church supports or hinders: I don’t see it anywhere in being supportive, and I find it hindering many including me.

3) Other issues: I was molested by a woman once and assaulted many times either verbally or physically by men. Being angry I hurt someone else and the pain, hurt and stress is all consuming.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes, I could never share it with my parents or discuss it with a priest until I was much older. This destroyed my life and put me into a depression which I am still working through.

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Female age 84, single/widowed, lay Catholic                                       #190

1) What constitutes a family: Grouping of all peoples – husband & wife, mother/father & children / family, grandparents, god parents adoptions, uncles, aunts, lesbians, gays, bisexuals. The whole world.

2) Church supports or hinders:

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Christian – Buddhist                                                                             #191

1) What constitutes a family: People who share a common bond – who are responsible to each other and for each other.

2) Church supports or hinders: Catholic Church teachings on these issues appear to have created strong divisions among people who otherwise share a common faith and tradition. As an outsider (non-Catholic Christian) these divisions and “rifts” appear to be unnecessary and confusing. People have understandably become defensive and then more energy goes into protecting a particular point of view and relationships have become convoluted. This (energy drain focus on dogma, defensiveness, confusion, judgment) is what has really hurt the family. Not the teaching per se, but how things have become so twisted and convoluted as a result of it. Teachings themselves don’t really harm or support the family. It’s what people do with them that either hurts or supports.

3) Other issues: I’ve witnessed people who become reactive and then become stunted in their own development. This is a tragedy since the purpose of the church is to facilitate growth.

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops: Encourage the Church to BE the Church – not by continuing the illusion that truth is outside of themselves, but by living the Gospel. There’s very little debate about what that is really. This is the only way the Church can remain relevant – to BE the Church not just talk about it.

Demographic Info: Female age 72, married 47 years, lay Catholic                                      #192

1) What constitutes a family: Family – our biological family, our world and our church, all are kinds of family. If we love them they are family. All those who are on earth are brothers and sisters in God’s family – church or not church. Jesus (God) love all as his children. He loves all of us as we should love one another.

2) Church supports or hinders: Most of the above mentioned issued have broken up families if families let that happen. As parents we learn to accept our children’s issues and so those of others. We need the church to be open and accepting also. God is love of all.

3) Other issues: Our children have been “hurt” by the church’s inability to change. They do not feel accepted. They are not church goers. They are missing out.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: No. We love our liturgy and remain participants in Mass, but we cannot agree with much of what comes from the “rules” which we feel are out of date and hurtful to many.

5) Message to bishops: We are losing connection with our faith, our young people need change to go on. Please make the revisions to let them be active Catholics, even though they have the “issues” you record against.

Demographic Info: Female 74, single, religious                                                                   #193

1) What constitutes a family: Relationships between parents and children. Relationships with a commitment to a certain person or persons. Unsure of all possibilities of what could make up a family.

2) Church supports or hinders:

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops: Be inspired. See what mystery family is. Be humble. Have women as part of the Synod. Listen deeply.

Demographic Info: Female age 72, single, religious                                                 #194

1) What constitutes a family: Persons who by birth or choice are committed to one another and care for one another.

2) Church supports or hinders: Excluding divorced and remarried persons from the sacraments is wrong. The annulment experience can be a healing experience, but is not accessible or helpful for everyone. We need to recognize and affirm and celebrate committed relationships between persons with same-sex attraction. For many people, artificial birth control is a morally positive and responsible choice. Cohabitation is an increasingly common phenomenon, with positive and negative consequences. It ought not be a barrier to celebrating the sacrament of marriage.

3) Other issues: Many family members, clients, friends don’t believe the church authorities are in tune with their lived experiences or have anything meaningful to say to them and to their lives.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: They do not participate, or do so to please other family members and compromise their own integrity.

5) Message to bishops: Listen to the lived experience of people. Include families of various compositions. Include women and theologians.

                                                                                                                                    #195

Demographic Info: male age 81, married, lay Catholic in an intentional Eucharistic community

1) What constitutes a family: A family consists of a nucleus of people bonded by love. They support and care for each other in all areas of their lives.

2) Church supports or hinders: All of these issues are claimed to make the individuals unworthy of receiving the sacraments. The issues of gay, lesbian, and transgender members of our communities have caused some of my family members to leave the church.

3) Other issues: My wife and I had 6 children born in 7 years, and she lost four other babies. A doctor had to tell her to stop having children or she would not live to rear them. Even with this knowledge, we struggled to accept artificial birth control another two and a half years.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: The rejection and “sinner labels” has caused major divisions in our extended family of 45 people.

5) Message to bishops: Love of all is the most important need of our culture.

Demographic Info: Female age 74, religious                                                            #196

1) What constitutes a family: A circle, multigenerational, of people who love each other. Usually families extend as children grow up and marry and make new friends and other families. At the center maybe are a man and woman in marriage or two women or two men. Love and care beneath all human care do bond us into families.

2) Church supports or hinders: Same sex partners call love. Annulments cost money; the Catholic spouse in a mixed marriage may not be the one who has previously married. The church should bless second marriages. Contraception is necessary in our over populated planet. The people have spoken. NFP does not work well. My lesbian niece and her partner have to listen to terrible rhetoric against their own church.

3) Other issues: The marriage amendment [defining marriage as one man and one woman] caused alienation in our family. In the name of the bible, an aunt (fundamentalist) said hateful things about my niece and her partner and daughter.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Our priest gave five sacraments to my brother-in-law near his death: baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, anointing of the sick, and blessed my sister and their 46 year marriage. My lesbian niece & partner continue to go to a welcoming Catholic Church.

5) Message to bishops: Start over with teachings that call forth our capacity to love one another, bless and nurture all self-giving relationships. God is mercy. Ordain women and married men so some people know the realities of relational life.

Demographic Info: female age 79, religious                                                             #197

1) What constitutes a family: family needs to be identified in a culturally specific manner. Indigenous communities or tribes have different obligations and relationships. Customs vary greatly on how families support one another. Divorce rate shows that something isn’t working at the present.

2) Church supports or hinders: Church needs to come to first an awareness and then do “real” planning of population versus earth resources. Legislative practices in the states often make it much more difficult to first marry, secondly stay married because of eligibility requirements for benefits. Legal rights for partners.

3) Other issues: The church needs to be the one who listens to the practice of the Holy People of God.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I always have hope that someday…

Right of conscience – John Courtney Murray. Push to be part of Vatican II.

5) Message to bishops: Believe the outcomes of Vatican II. Fear of what is unknown is lack of trust in the council.

Demographic Info: Female age 30, single, lay Catholic                                                       #198

1) What constitutes a family: This varies somewhat by culture. Family of origin are blood relatives or adopted / chosen relatives. Family is also the people who come together, love and respect each other, and commit to supporting each other as family. In my traditions, people can adopt each other as aunts/nieces, grandparents/grandchildren, etc not just parent/child. Committed couples are also family who have chosen each other.

2) Church supports or hinders: a) support: I appreciate that the Church teaches about staying committed to the people we’ve chosen as family and being open to God’s will. This invites reflection and discernment before acting in the hopes of creating and sustaining thriving life ways.

b) hinder: These teachings invite so much shame to those who are deemed as “deviant” and “sinners.” These teachings tear families apart when they disagree, and the shame can lead LGBTQ people to consider or commit suicide when they are rejected and scorned. Not allowing artificial contraception puts women’s health at risk when they have too many children for their bodies to bear, and it contributes to poverty when parents cannot support the children they have. On a larger scale, lack of contraception hurts all of us. We’ve been “fruitful, multipl[ied], and fill[ed] the earth and the earth can’t keep supporting us.

3) Other issues: One argument for limiting artificial contraception is that we need to be open to God’s will. I know two people who conceived while on birth control this year alone. One of them conceived twice, using 2 different forms of birth control. Their grappling with the unexpected was far more powerful than anything I have yet witnessed as far as being open to God’s will.

Another thought is on divorce and remarriage. I agree that commitment is important. And people are living so much longer than ever before and experience so many unexpected changes (have more time to grow part at times). Women also no longer are reliant on husbands. It would not be a horror to walk away from the responsibilities of the relationship. And again, different cultures have always had different ways of dealing with these issues.

Part of the argument against birth control is that we need to be open to God’s will. What about when someone is created as an LGBTQ person? Shouldn’t we be equally open to God’s will then?

Why is difference so frightening? Or is it about feeling better about ourselves? The Ten Commandments tell us not to steal, or covet, or lie. Things we all struggle with. But if we can focus on something more people are not so tempted by (such as same sex relationships), that makes people feel better about themselves.

I’m afraid of what will happen with those of us who have stayed in the Church in hope and to work toward change if we go through this process of seeking input and then nothing changes. Especially since this has happened before.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Most of my family has left the church. I’m still a devout Catholic, but I sometimes question my decision to remain within a colonial institution that participates in the subjugation of people. What about the commitment to human dignity? I feel like I can never bring my whole self to Catholic circles. It’s like cutting out my own heart whenever I walk into a Roman Catholic Church (even though I am not in relationship). Other traditions include the idea of reverence for LGBTQ / Two Spirit People. We demonized this group because it’s easier to point fingers.

5) Message to bishops: Please reconsider the colonial teachings that destroy the dignity of a whole group of people and demonize them. Please support the health of women, families, and the earth.

Demographic Info: Female age 94, widow                                                              #199

1) What constitutes a family: Father, mother, children and groups of good faith commitment to listen to parents, children and follow them with good faith issues in family.

2) Church supports or hinders: The church has to agree to change as well as keeping firm the Ten Commandments.

3) Other issues: How can we support our gay people if the church does not agree with them receiving the sacraments, etc?

4) Effect on relationship to Church: It hasn’t. I am glad that finally the church priest and higher up are reprimanded, and all that have been done is out in the open. We need a change to agree to let our priests marry.

5) Message to bishops: To accept contraception after a family has two or three children. To allow people to divorce if they agree to be a Christian family. To accept these people that want to get married again.

Demographic Info: Female age 84, widow, lay Catholic                                                     #200

1) What constitutes a family: 1) Father, mother, children. 2) wife & husband. 3) Single parent & child. 4) Gay couple and child.

2) Church supports or hinders: b) hurting: 1) not allowing divorced people to receive communion. 2) No allowing contraception. 3) not recognizing gay couples.

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church: My relationship is not affected with the Church, but my six children’s relationship has been affected in that they are not practicing Catholics. The Church has not kept up with the times we live in.

5) Message to bishops: Carefully listen to the many people hurting and respond with clarity and hope.

Demographic Info: Female age 89, single, religious in good standing                                 #201

1) What constitutes a family: A group living together as a unit.

2) Church supports or hinders: a) Supports: no. b) Hinders: yes.

3) Other issues: That only males can be ordained or make decisions in the Church.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I’m still in loving with hope that it can change.

5) Message to bishops: Listen to everyone and be open to the Spirit.

Demographic Info: Female age 86, widow, lay, long-standing Catholic                             #202

1) What constitutes a family: People young and old related or unrelated who live under one roof, caring, sharing, loving, accepting, and encouraging one another to be the best that they can be.

2) Church supports or hinders: a) Support: Very supportive. b) hurting: If families were hurt it may have been because the church could not change its teachings to accommodate them.

3) Other issues: Annulment. A son no longer practices his Catholic faith because of the long, expensive, painful process that he could not subject his fiancée to experience.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: No. I understood the church’s position and accepted my son’s decision who is an outstanding Christian who truly loves God and his neighbors!

5) Message to bishops: That the Synod be open to the Holy Spirit as He inspires them to clearly define the church’s position for the good of all God’s People!

Demographic Info: Female age 52, legally married but not recognized by the Church,  Disenfranchised Catholic                                                                                                           #203

1) What constitutes a family: People who love each other and may or may not have children. Could be gay, straight, bi-sexual or transgender.

2) Church supports or hinders: b) hinders: To be sitting in a pew, the same pew that I have sat in for over 7 years next to my then partner and have the priest say to vote in an election to make a constitutional ban on gay marriage. This is a sin.

3) Other issues: Divorce – get over it; it happens. Contraception prevents unwanted pregnancies, having a baby is ia huge life change and should be planned for.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: While the church will take my time and treasure, it does not recognize and/or bless my family or marriage even though my spouse and I have been together for 17 years.

5) Message to bishops: YOU NEED TO CHANGE. Present from a place of love and acceptance.

Demographic Info: Female age 50, married. Was Catholic all my life, raised children Catholic, am no longer Catholic due to the practices of the church.                                                   #204

1) What constitutes a family: People who are bonded together, support each other, love each other, and are united in their mutual love and respect of each other.

2) Church supports or hinders: I think there is a belief that these topics help support families, however it fails to acknowledge and appreciate diversity that exists in families. There is a message that you are not a “good” Catholic and faithful if you do not practice the way the church teaches. As a family with a gay child, I ultimately felt that if I remained in the church, I was betraying my son. This really was tremendously painful since we worked our whole family life to raise our children in the church, sent them to Catholic schools, were very active in our parish, and our son was a wonderful altar server. We devoted ourselves to having a family faith life. To feel that the teachings of the church directly diminishes the value of who my son is and supports messages of inadequacy is painful and not something I could continue to support. Our family became divided in our faith. That is a shame.

3) Other issues: The manner in which the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis, Minnesota devoted so much time and money in being political with the marriage amendment and DVD was hostile and hurtful. I firmly believe Jesus would have never acted that way.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes. Ultimately I left the church and now feel embraced and fully welcomed in the Episcopal Church.

5) Message to bishops: Open your mind. Be open to change. The people of the church need you to do this.

Demographic Info: Male age 50, married, lay, grew up Catholic, practicing until 4 years ago. Now a member of an Episcopal community.                                                                           #205

1) What constitutes a family: Two adults committed to one another and any children.

2) Church supports or hinders: a) supportive: marriage sacrament and dedication to helping married couples live and understand the commitment of marriage with each other and God. Have witnessed and experienced pastoral moments from priests.

b) hindering: Witnessed changed attitudes of priests who profess homosexuals as “disordered.” This was in front of children of all ages and impressions. I have the belief that homosexuality is not a choice and that it is not “disordered.” I believe all human beings are 100% loveable and created in God’s image to be loved equally by all. I do not know how professing homosexuality to be disordered would not lead to self hate and internal distress – especially if it is coming from the religious / faith leaders.

3) Other issues: Many friends, ex-priests and relatives who are homosexual

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Very many. Most have left and do not have much good to say about the church – unable to see the good that I believe is prevalent.

5) Message to bishops: Decide without fear. Let love lead your heart. Listen with intensity. Act with empathy.

Demographic Info: Male age 75, married, lay Catholic                                                        #206

  1. What constitutes a family: Two or more people united by a bond of love for each other!
  2. Church Supports or hinders: a. the Church teaching on contraception (is rhythm ok other methods not ok)

Negative treatment of same sex attraction, negative treatment of divorce and remarriage i.e. cannot receive communion, Negative treatment to “non-practicing” Catholics – no communion

  1. Other issues: A way of treating partners of those who are practicing Catholics
  2. Effect on relationship to Church: They have left the Church!
    1. Message to bishops: Get rid of the “Good Old Boys” club.
 

Demographic Info: Female age 75, married, lay Catholic                                                   #207

  1. What constitutes a family: A group of people living together – maybe parents and children –maybe with additional relatives –or with other non-related persons – same sex couples – single living together maybe with children, maybe single
  2. Church Supports or hinders: Practice of annulment taking too long and placing blame on one or another. Not accepting contraceptives can put a strain on relationship
  3. Other issues: see annulment page attached**
  4. Effect on relationship to Church: Relationship to “Church” is strong but maybe much of past was based on fear
    1. Message to bishops: Acceptance of all people, more emphasis on love, forgiveness, hierarchy that listens more and not be separated by their robes and jeweled miters etc.
  5. What constitutes a family: one adult and children who are loved and cared for or two married people; whatever a family is any unite with people who care about each other
  6. Church Supports or hinders: Not supporting gay families or non-traditional family units (single parent) non married adults
  7. Other issues: Gay children who are married in Lutheran church because they were no valued in Catholic Church
  8. Effect on relationship to Church: Our children left Catholic Church. Our daughter is getting a Master of Divinity and she will be ordained a minister in the Lutheran Church.
    1. Message to bishops: Stop being so self-righteous and judgmental. Do not exclude people. We are all on the same journey, only on different paths. Get rid of all the Bishops who have lied and covered up pedophilia
  9. What constitutes a family: A family is composed of one or two adults and the children and other members that live out their lives together
  10. Church Supports or hinders: People are on a journey. Their figuring out their lives. Relationships are complex. People change as they grow. Relationships sometimes cease to be life giving and are therefore no longer sustainable. Only persons in a relationship really know.
  11. Other issues: (blank)
  12. Effect on relationship to Church: (blank)
    1. Message to bishops: Listen to the people, listen to the women. Be open and transparent about what you do.
  13. What constitutes a family: An adult or adults in a life-long committed relationship, and any children in their care or dependents
  14. Church Supports or hinders: Current Church teaching on relationships other that heterosexual marriage feels very shaming, and serves to prevent acceptance and in decision in the church. It divides families rather than uniting them, because family members of those who don’t fit the mold of Church teaching are often encouraged to judge or exclude their loved ones.
  15. Other issues: Clergy abuse has been hidden and tolerated for too long. It feels like this is a huge wake-up call to recognize how dysfunctional church teaching on sexuality has been for decades.
  16. Effect on relationship to Church: Ultimately, a significant factor in my decision to leave the Catholic Church was based on the reality that my relationship with my wife would have crated serious problems as I followed the call to ministry.
    1. Message to bishops: The people are the church! It is critical that the leaders of the church begin to serve the people and focus on creating a place for people to worship God and be a community of faith, rather than upholding and protecting itself.
  17. What constitutes a family: Group of people that life together and love and support each other
  18. Church Supports or hinders: Giving examples of ways to support each other –such as giving your time and talents to help someone else Being too judgmental (some people will feel guilt instead of learning and growing if they sin)
  19. Other issues: Being in same sex marriage (legal in MN) and not feeling that we could stay in the Catholic Church. I had gone through RCIA but I and my wife decided to go to the Lutheran Church.
  20. Effect on relationship to Church: Yes, very much so. There felt like there was no place in the Catholic Church as a married couple. Even if an individual church supported our love, the church as a whole did not.
    1. Message to bishops: A lot of people who want to stay in the Catholic Church feel that they cannot because the church’s teaching feels too restricted and it feels different that Jesus’ message. We are all sinners so who are certain groups not included.
  21. What constitutes a family: Two people in a loving relationship- Community
  22. Church Supports or hinders: Not supportive. Definitely hurting families i.e. Bishop Shannon
  23. Other issues: Excluding people from the sacraments
  24. Effect on relationship to Church: Yes, in my work in the Church I have listened to the pain the Church has caused in the areas. It makes me question what we have become
    1. Message to bishops: Inclusiveness. Women priests.
  25. What constitutes a family: Marriage of two loving partners and or children accompanying that relationship
  26. Church Supports or hinders: Driving people away from the church the teachings do not welcome those who have experienced any problems that the persons have gone through
  27. Other issues: We are in a second marriage. We both had to go through church required annulments which I did not think necessary.
  28. Effect on relationship to Church: Created different views on what to accept, but have not lost faith
    1. Message to bishops: No trust in hierarchy! Listen and act the way the people want, not the way you want. Lay people should deliver message!
  29. What constitutes a family: Any group of people, committed to each other for up to the end of life.
  30. Church Supports or hinders: Daughter has left the Church due to no accepting of same sex marriage. Son’s married to non-Catholic treated very poorly when taking lessons to become Catholic
  31. Other issues: Women should become priests! My sister, a life-long nun, feels strongly rejected.
  32. Effect on relationship to Church: Left the Church as feeling unwelcome
    1. Message to bishops: As Jesus would have, welcome all, no exceptions!
 

Demographic Info: Female age 73, married, lay Catholic                                                    #208

 

Demographic Info: Female age 78, married, lay Catholic                                        #209

 

#210

Demographic Info: Female age 45, married, in formation for ordination in Lutheran Church

 

#211

Demographic Info:Female age 44, married, switched to Lutheran Church

 

#212

Demographic Info: Female age 72, married, lay Catholic

 

Demographic Info: Male age 80, married, lay Catholic                                            #213

 

Demographic Info: Male age 75, married, lay Catholic                                            #214

 

Demographic Info: Male age 75, committed companion, Lay Catholic not active              #215

  1. What constitutes a family: Any group committed to each other, adults and children, straight, gay, etc.
  2. Church Supports or hinders: Some schools & parishes more open. Not supportive of non-traditional families with exceptions. Sexual abuse
  3. Other issues: Treatment of divorced couples, gays, gay marriage, attitude toward birth control
  4. Effect on relationship to Church: Yes, along with a lot of other issues.
    1. Message to bishops: Open up. Listen to all – solicit ideas from many – have ongoing process to solicit input.
  5. What constitutes a family: I think people need to define this for themselves. Needs a commitment to other.
  6. Church Supports or hinders: I think that Church’s teachings are extremely detrimental, judgmental and bureaucratic especially around contraception, same sex attraction and marriage and divorce and re-marriage. Also, Church teaching on non-Catholics and Catholic marriage greatly affected my parents’ marriage.
  7. Other issues: Yes, ban on in-vitro fertilization has caused great suffering for a family member.
  8. Effect on relationship to Church: Two of my three children no longer attend church and just don’t “buy” the Church’s teaching on sexual or family matters.(and hypocrisy I might add)
    1. Message to bishops: Listen up Please! Don’t be so afraid of change. Trust the laity.
  9. What constitutes a family: A caring relationship that may or may not include a blessed marriage – relationship that focuses on love, inclusion, charity and caring.
  10. Church Supports or hinders: Supportive only to traditional marriage. Hurting divorced, same-sex relationships, civil marriages, oral contraception.
  11. Other issues: Contraception, divorce, in-vitro fertilization, right to die.
  12. Effect on relationship to Church: It has decreased and marginalized the place of Church in my family. Two out of three of our adult children either don’t go to church or do so minimally.
    1. Message to bishops: Be open to active input from the laity. “Voices from the pews” regarding everything the hierarchy is thinking, saying and doing. This is Our church.
  13. What constitutes a family: Two adults and any children living with them
  14. Church Supports or hinders: Supportive to only traditional families. Hurting if they are not so-called traditional families – same sex marriages.
  15. Other issues: Contraception, women priests, birth control
  16. Effect on relationship to Church: (blank)
    1. Message to bishops: More freedom to act in accordance with one’s conscience.
  17. What constitutes a family: People who come together regularly who love and care for each other. They may be related.
  18. Church Supports or hinders: Judgmental and non-compassionate attitudes are killing the Church.
  19. Other issues: The length of the time needed for annulment, the expense when only one wants to remain a Catholic.
  20. Effect on relationship to Church: The Primacy of Conscience is ruling my life – not the Catholic Church.
    1. Message to bishops: Accept new and differing ideas. Act with the compassion of Christ.
  21. What constitutes a family: At least two loving people who may have children, naturally or adoptive
  22. Church Supports or hinders; Supporting love, procreation a given. Hurting – no way out faced with resent/individual realities which could preclude having unlimited children, because of economics/health (physical or mental) reasons.
  23. Other issues: There may be some unstated problems in my family. The thought is that the Church of our childhood has not changed at all. Also, some family members have no sense of humor.
  24. Effect on relationship to Church: No, not mine, but my brother will not have anything to do with priests especially since the pedophile scandal. The parish they belonged to is not one I would belong to and I think many people are de-churched because there are no good options without driving miles and miles.
    1. Message to bishops:
      1. Divorced friend who didn’t want the divorce & denied an annulment à left
      2. Niece who is a lesbian & does not feel welcome à left
      3. Friend’s mother never felt worthy of Eucharist after husband divorced her.
      4. So many hurt with church fighting same sex marriage.
 

Demographic Info: Female age 74, married, lay Catholic                                        #216

 

Demographic Info: Male age 75, married, lay Catholic                                            #217

 

Demographic Info: Male age 80, married, lay Catholic                                           #218

 

Demographic Info:Female age 69, married, lay Catholic                                         #219

 

Demographic Info: Female age 75, single, lay Catholic                                           #220

 

#221

Demographic Info: Female age 56, divorced / in a committed relationship, practicing Catholic

1) What constitutes a family: Family means a group of people who care for each other, and take care of each other’s needs. They may be related or not.

2) Church supports or hinders: Our church’s official teachings hurt my family and the family of my friends. I have friends who cannot physically, emotionally, or financially have more children, yet they believe they are bad – evil – sinful because they use artificial contraception.

3) Other issues: I am divorced, my husband leaving me is not a reason for an annulment. He abandoned our family, and I cannot remarry in the church without an annulment. I am stuck….

4) Effect on relationship to Church: My own church – my church family – have been very supportive of me and my children, and our situation. At the point I choose to remarry, it will become a problem for me.

My gay and lesbian friends have left the Catholic Church because they ae not welcomed, and are treated like sinners. I have friends who WILL NOT be married by their priest because they live with their fiancé! They need to “

5) Message to bishops: Please, please! Allow abandonment as a reason for annulment, or an allowment for remarriage or at least allow for remaining a Catholic with rights to full participation of the sacraments.

Demographic Info: Female age 78, widow, lay Catholic                                         #222

1) What constitutes a family:   Biologic, non-biologic, Friends, Church, and work

2) Church supports or hinders: (blank)

3) Other issues: Gender - trans

4) Effect on relationship to Church: No

5) Message to bishops: Please change teachings on divorce – open the door for all the love and believe in God as the center of that love. Bishops and church hierarchy should not be able to judge what is good or evil in an individual.

Demographic Info: Female age 76, divorced, lay Catholic, sometimes practicing   #223

1) What constitutes a family: Related or chosen – love each other, supportive loyal to relationship – ongoing connection/blood, generational, shared caring for each other.

2) Church supports or hinders: Having married too young and having gone through painful divorce at a still young age but with several children, I believe re-marriage should be an option to remain in good standing with the church. My spirituality deepened, but felt “apart from” many times. Initiated annulment, too much pressure for friends and inconsistent message for children.

3) Other issues: I think contraception is a sensible option. Do not believe in abortion generally but there are exceptions. Also, priests should be allowed to marry.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes – have attended other churches and Bible studies.

Also have a gay grandson that should have some future - he is a good person.

5) Message to bishops: Concerns – women’s role second in hierarchy

Demographic Info: Male age 67, married, Lay Catholic                                          #224

1) What constitutes a family: A person in relationship with ….

2) Church supports or hinders: Basically narrow minded, judgmental, and unforgiving. Petty and dogmatic also come to mind.

3) Other issues: The church seems to have an obsession regarding things sexual. This is strange coming from an institution that sees celibacy as a virtue and sign of “chosenness”.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes – it has alienated me

5) Message to bishops: Listen/forgive/love/smile

Demographic Info: Female age 67, married, Lay Catholic                                       #225

1) What constitutes a family: Any group of people committed to each other in love.  

2) Church supports or hinders:

a. supporting families with a mother and father and children or a man & wife or a widowed spouse if they follow the teaching

b. hurting same sex families by not letting them marry or receive sacraments. Not allowing responsible adults to love one another including sex to use contraception whether married or not. Not recognizing and allowing divorced couples to remarry in the Church and receive the sacraments.

3) Other issues: Both of my young adult children do not go to church and did not get married in the Church. My grandchildren are not baptized. This saddens me, but I have no explanation for them that makes any sense. The Catholic Church had nothing to offer them because they are living in the 21st century and the Church’s teaching are many centuries old.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes. I can’t go to a parish that is not inclusive, accepting LGBT people, divorced couples, etc. We are fortunate to have an inclusive parish, but if our parish were forced to close because we are inclusive, either meet with other members of the parish at a different location and continue our worship without the consent of the Catholic Church or I would find a community of worshippers who believe God loves all of us and that we were given free will and conscience to ae informed, well thought out decisions

5) Message to bishops: The Church should follow the teaching and life of Jesus. We, the lay people, are the Church and we should be able to follow our conscience and not have to go against our conscience because of rules made up by a hierarchy of celibate men. The hierarchy needs to be supportive and give guidance with an open mind and kind, loving spirit. Listen and understand as Jesus did. Be inclusive, not exclusive.

Demographic Info: Female age 34, married, Non-practicing Catholic                     #226

1) What constitutes a family: Whatever each person describes as their family; any definition is family.

2) Church supports or hinders:

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes, I am disconnected from the church because of their stand against basic human rights.

5) Message to bishops: Raised by open minded parents which is why I’m opening my heart to be here today (i.e. I haven’t given up) Quote from the Guardian

About me- social justice and human rights =core, surface this is Catholicism, however the facts/teachings of the church don’t support this. Volunteering is my religion – Social work – current job with Sisters of St Joseph. I married a divorced man, he is a better person because of his divorce.

Birth control and current life situation, now pregnant after having an opportunity to establish my education and work– co-habitation before marriage.

Ostracized at a friend’s party for wearing ‘love is love’ GLBT button, this affected me deeply to receive his hate, no wonder GLBT community has so many issues. This is changing; church needs to get with the program.

Church is degrading to women by limiting their power and leadership.

Demographic Info: Female, age 78, vowed religious, unmarried                             #227

1) What constitutes a family: Any group of persons who are consistently offering support, affection, service to one another

2) Church supports or hinders: no experience in support; I have seen families torn apart, some members believing that God wants them to shun “sinners”.

3) Other issues: I think the implied belief that the body is a source of sin not grace, that our natural human impulses and needs are suspect, is very destructive. I see that the less educated (thus often poor) are more adversely affected since they are less likely to trust their own sense of rightness if it does not agree with formal Church teaching. I saw numerous examples while teaching in high school.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: It seems that the less educated (thus the poor) are more adversely affected since they are less likely to trust their own sense of rightness if it does not agree with the formal church teaching. I saw numerous examples while teaching in high schools.

5) Message to bishops: Look at all the issues through the lens of human love: how can we as a human community live more fully as loving beings?

______________________________________________________________________________

Demographic Info: F, 80, widowed, lay, practicing Catholic                                  #228

1) What constitutes a family: Families are constituted by choice and by local law. It is not necessary for the Church to define family to serve people in whatever constellation the people themselves identify as family

2) Church supports or hinders: The Church’s teachings on sexuality are probably intended to promote family stability. The Church should take a non-essentialist approach to supporting family stability and work with civil society in its attempts to support stability. The Church’s essentialist approach to defining family is tearing families a part

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Generations are lost to the Church in Europe and the US because of the Church’s rigidity in teachings on sexuality.

5) Message to bishops: Allow the doctrines on sexuality to change in the normal way through the dialectic of human communication through which the Spirit speaks.

 

Demographic Info: Female, 80, single, religious                                                      #229

1) What constitutes a family: Originally a family for me was mother-female, father-male, two older brothers and 1 older sister. Now in my 80 years of life as a religious sister, a family is a devoted couple with children desiring to love and care for one another in God’s ever-caring love.

2) Church supports or hinders: In preparing children for first communion many times I faced the question: “can my mom/dad or others come? They’re not Catholic.” It hurt to receive that question. I always said yes but knew there was separation from Church enforced on many.

3) Other issues: I remember children saying “My dad-or others-don’t go to Church or don’t know God. I experienced the priest saying to me: “You may have done this other places but not here” to my desire that they have a part in their Mass.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: As a religious sister after teaching many years it was always a longing that the heavy hand of Church would become the loving accepting arms of Christ.

5) Message to bishops: Please allow our God who loved and so made us in, with, bearing God’s love be free to know ever being loved—not—ever being sinners, inclined to evil or selfishness. What love the Apostles must have experienced in Jesus first words after resurrection: Peace be with you.

 

Demographic Info: Female, 77, single, religious                                                      #230

1) What constitutes a family: The ideal is mother, father and child/children. Other families are divorced or 1 parent dead.

2) Church supports or hinders: Some church communities try to welcome everyone, and try not to offend families who are in different types of relationships. A divorce after 1st marriage is a personal tragedy. Some priest help a person find a way to remarry in the Catholic Church, others do not help.

3) Other issues: Did the “Christian Family Movement” try to help couples or premarital conferences understand the true meaning of “natural family planning” (Billings method) and teach it so couples could be successful? Artificial contraception often leads to unfaithfulness in marriage.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Some families handle a gay child with AIDS openly and other families keep it hidden and shun the child. They all belong to the same Catholic Church.

5) Message to bishops: There is the ideal and there are the exceptions—Jesus was very forgiving to all. We blame the Church for some things, but it is “Society” who gives the expectations.

Demographic Info: Female, 62, divorced, lay active Catholic                                 #231

1) What constitutes a family: An intimate group that self-identifies as family. May include same-sex couples, divorced, children or none, etc.

2) Church supports or hinders: a) Contraception teaching caused arguments in my family. My husband was steeped in guilt that we used it. b) My cousin who was clearly gay from early childhood felt terrible rejection by family and Church. He has moved away and broken family ties. This has been a source of pain and division. c) I am divorced. The marriage was harmful to me and my children. If I find a man to love and marry, I will. The Church’s teaching will be ignored. My conscience will guide.

3) Other issues: The Church’s poor treatment of women. I was relegated by the Church to a lower position than my brothers. I couldn’t ever be a priest. Although I have a master’s degree in theology, the Church does not have a place for me in leadership. We need women in leadership.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I continue to be an active Catholic. I am active in ministry and in my parish. However, I work actively for Church reform. I work so that the Church will live by its own, wonderful social teachings and that it will again operate within the heart of Jesus.

5) Message to bishops: Be inclusive, compassionate and empowering as Jesus was. Find ways to support people where they are in their lives rather than dictating whether they are acceptable. Minister the Gospel.

______________________________________________________________________________

Demographic Info:Female, 87, single, religious                                                       #232

1) What constitutes a family: Ideally: a loving husband (male) and wife (female) and their children and their extended family. In reality: any two adults who from a household together and open that home to care for children, the vulnerable, those needing family life together.

2) Church supports or hinders: a. Supportive: The teaching that the sacrament of marriage is indissoluble; material help when needed, supporting Catholic education. b. Hindering: The Church’s opposition to contraception--this philosophical position is from the 13th century. We do not know when conception takes place; homosexual relationships; not helping parents of gay children; making Catholic education depend on ability to pay. Divorce has a track record in my family.

3) Other issues: The Church’s opposition to invitro fertilization as “unnatural” and therefore, banned; celibate men laying down the law

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I have to fight dismissing the American hierarchy. A friend helped me to see that I should pray for those old men, whose security lies in sticking to the “magisterium” and Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274). We are living in the 21st century.

5) Message to bishops: none

Demographic Info: Female, 76, single, religious                                                      #233

1) What constitutes a family: Variety—2 parents and children. 1 parent and children, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins included

2) Church supports or hinders: Depends on parish you participate in—Supports: level of education on “church” matters; remarriage seems to be the least talked against; recognize each person for who they are. Hinders: The letter of the law; discourage associating with “these” people; taught that these areas will never be in “good standing” in the Italy Roman Catholic Church

3) Other issues: Have cousin (priest) who is part of law suit in Archdiocese; have nephew who is gay but parents will not allow him to be himself (31 years old) and this never discussed

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes, I feel everyone should be accepted in the Church—look at Jesus’s friends and the people he interacted with.

5) Message to bishops: We are many peoples, cultures, etc. but each can see and follow Jesus and how he lived his life. Nothing in the Church is set in stone. There are endless ways to live a Christian life.

 

Demographic Info: Female, 80, religious community, religious                               #234

1) What constitutes a family: Religious community if family, a group who cares for each other. A parent and child is family. A group or person who cares for each others welfare.

2) Church supports or hinders: A person should have a close relationship with another person for good health. God told Adam he should not be alone.

3) Other issues: Persons who are excluded because of divorce; Church call same-sex attraction disordered.

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

friends left the Church. No money coming in to keep the church building going.

5) Message to bishops: Have the seminarians have more social teachers and theologians say what is needed to speak of the love and caring that is needed to make a loving community.

 

 

Demographic Info: Female, 82, single, religious                                                      #235

1) What constitutes a family: Group of people sharing life with respect for one another—common goals with respect for individual difference

2) Church supports or hinders: More hindering due to rigid legislation and lack of respect and understanding of human preferences. Expecting people to be more concerned with rules etc. than what is good for each—lack of community.

3) Other issues: Lack of support for sexual preference—condemnation rather than understanding; many in my family have chosen to live together without sacrament of marriage. I cannot judge them for their choices and see them as compassionate loving persons.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I believe many ignore the Church because it does not speak to them. The Church does not draw them into the Church.

5) Message to bishops: Forget rules and regulations and look at people. What do people need to be drawn—have a relationship with God and one another living a life that will enrich their own lives and the lives of one another.

Look at people today and ask what can the Church do/offer to make their lives full of love and compassion and spread peace to the world.

______________________________________________________________________________

Demographic Info: Female, 70, single, religious community                                   #236

 

1) What constitutes a family: Family-a group of people related to people by birth, love, faith and/or choice.

2) Church supports or hinders: As a Church we need broader understandings of human relational skills. I have a sister and brother who used artificial contraception in their marriage for most of their married lives and a sister who is lesbian and now is happily married. All of them/us are accepting of each other’s lives and moral decisions on these ideas. We need to reform Church teaching with input from married, divorced, gay and straight, Catholics, from social science understandings and with the help of theologians who can help us come to teachings which honor and support the diverse experiences of faithful Catholics in all our diversity.

3) Other issues: We need broader understanding of sacramentality and sacraments, honoring the experiences and leadership of women in relationships, family and Church. We need pastoral ministers ordained and lay, women and men, who can help and support men and women, gay and straight, in their relationships and relational lives. We need to celebrate reconciliation in a way that helps all of us learn to forgive one another and to forgive ourselves as Christ forgives all. We need to learn how to be that kind of church together so that all of us can feel and respect each other as fully active participating members in the body.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I find church officials unbelievable.

5) Message to bishops: Be open to the diverse families of the world today. Be open and seek to understand the diverse ways we faithful Catholics have been leaning to express and live our sexuality—GLBTQ persons do not choose their sexuality as a preference; they come, over time, with understanding and support, to accept the sexual orientation and understanding that is a part of them.

 

Demographic Info: Female, 85, widow, lay person                                                  #237

1) What constitutes a family I believe a family is a group of people who live and work together for a common good—that of the family.

2) Church supports or hinders: The issues of divorce, remarriage, cohabitation, contraception and same-sex attraction of course affect all persons—sometimes they are supportive, sometimes a hindrance.

3) Other issues: blank

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Blank

5) Message to bishops: Prayer is the answer! Keep the Faith.

______________________________________________________________________________

Demographic Info: Female, 81, single, lay former religious (28 years)                    #238

1) What constitutes a family: A group of persons who love each other and are committed to each other’s well-being, presumably on a permanent basis (not roommates, for example). When possible, they will live together until children mature and become independent.

2) Church supports or hinders: Cohabitation may be an exception, but the Church’s position on the other three issues is not supportive of families, causes conflicts both internal and between individuals, takes energy away from more important problems in the world and in families, and in families; and these positions do not have persuasive arguments supporting them. Why do many other Christian, Scripture-based churches have opposite positions?

3) Other issues: Prohibition of fertility treatments such as IVF and artificial insemination.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: The prohibition of artificial contraception has led many of my relatives/associates to mistrust the authority of the Church on a variety of issues. The denial of communion to divorced and remarried persons affects their children (from both marriages) as well as other relatives who are put into a difficult position at first communions, funerals, etc.

5) Message to bishops: a. Do not consider some kinds of families to be “better” than others—saying that some forms are “ideal” and others are “wounded.”

b. Pay attention to the voice of the faithful and the experience of other churches. There is much wisdom that the hierarchical Catholic Church has not tapped.

 

Demographic Info: Female, 70, married 49 years to same man, lay practicing Catholic      #239

1) What constitutes a family: a group (2 or more) of people who love and nurture one another; who are committed to each other and live together and work for the common good of the group, and who know their commitment is sacred.

2) Church supports or hinders: All people should be supported by the Church in their family and marriage choices, whether heterosexual or homosexual. Divorced/remarried Catholics should be able to receive the Eucharist, that sacrament is not something to withhold or use as a punishment.

3) Other issues: All the church would have to say to couples about artificial contraception is: “Pray, ask for God’s guidance, and follow your conscience.”

4) Effect on relationship to Church: 3 of our 5 children do not attend Mass and feel that the Church is narrow and hypocritical, especially relative to the sexual abuse scandal, and the Church’s treatment of women and gay people. I am in favor fully of couples trying to work through issues and heal their marriages, so whatever the Church can do in this regard is great.

5) Message to bishops: The Church needs to work with science, theologians, and psychologists to change church teachings re sexuality. Love is the answer to live by, not fear or shame or control.

Demographic Info: Female, age 45, married, lay Catholic                                      #240

1) What constitutes a family: Group of people biologically linked or chosen to be together.

2) Church supports or hinders: The Church is not supportive to all families. It is exclusive & judgmental. It puts unrealistic expectations on marriages, having children, etc. & when things don’t work like, like divorce, or people don’t want children, they are left to feel like they are wrong & shouldn’t be Catholic.

3) Other issues: Family members have felt shunned by the Church because they divorced, had an abortion or are gay. My kids question whether they want to be Catholic because they believe, as I do, that gay people should marry, divorced people are not bad & not all should have children or lots of children because raising kids takes a lot of time, effort, energy & money & if you aren’t fully invested, the outcome is bad for the child/family/society.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Many have left the church, relationships & marriages have been harmed, belief in God has been questioned. They have felt judged.

5) Message to bishops: Please rethink what we are teaching about Catholicism in regards to sexuality, marriage & family. Time has passed since rules were made & a lot has changed. People live longer, marry later, don’t need lots of kids to farm, don’t want to have children. Marriages fail, but people aren’t failures.

The Church can continue to highly value marriage, children & sexual responsibility without being so strict.

Demographic Info:    Female age 49, married, lay Catholic                                      #241

1) What constitutes a family: People living together as community. Community can be as small as your household & as big as the world. The bigger your community, the more open hearted to people different than yourself. For me, the bigger the better. We are all interconnected!

2) Church supports or hinders: The Bishops shouldn’t dictate how each member lives their lives. Instead they should be a role model of living a good & kind life where we accept each other & challenge each other to be the best we can be. Be open hearted & nonjudgmental!

3) Other issues: The whole vote yes campaign & DVDs was a horrifying example of exclusivity & small mindedness. History will look poorly on these actions by the Church. Many gay & lesbian people who work for the Church can’t be who they really are publically or they will lose their jobs. That is a crime.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes- disgusted by the actions of the Church when it comes to same sex relationships & priest sex abuse toward children.

5) Message to bishops: Open your hearts. Live as Jesus did. No “judgy” rules. Open your hearts to all people no matter where they are on their journey.

Women should be able to be ordained priests and priests should be able to marry.

Stop talking about birth control & and start voting for children’s rights- health care, education, etc.

None of your business who goes to communion or not-> between God & person.

Demographic Info: Female age 54, married, lay Catholic                                        #242

1) What constitutes a family: A family is a group of people who love each other with different ages, and/or parental figures, and/or children. They live together until children leave home.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) The Church supports traditional families. Mine is traditional & have always felt supported except in the area of birth control. (b: hinders) Other families have been very hurt by the teaching:

3) Other issues: I know many people who have left the church due to their outrage over the Church’s position on homosexuality. Most Catholics I know do not even consider the Church’s teachings on contraception, cohabitation, sex outside of marriage.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: As I said most ignore the church teachings & do what they feel is reasonable as loving humans. I also ignored the teachings on premarital sex & contraception.

5) Message to bishops: American Bishops! Please make the Church inclusive & loving as Jesus was! Having archaic rules that no one follows only makes our Church an outdated museum. Science has proven we are biologically born with homosexual or heterosexual tendencies.

Demographic Info: Female age 55, married 29 years, lay Catholic                          #243

1) What constitutes a family: A loving cohesive supportive relationship.

2) Church supports or hinders: The Church is not supportive and embarrasses me with their teaching on same sex attraction/marriage. I believe and hope at some point the Church will realize that people who are in same sex relationships are in living committed unions/marriages and should be able to continue to be active in the Church.

Contraception teaching is a joke. A vast majority finds no value and does not follow the Catholic teachings. I know this was a huge sticky part during Vatican II. Contraception is not abortion and should not be treated as such. The Church should correct its stance on contraception and move forward into what is reality. People do not value an institution that holds onto archaic views. At one point we viewed mixed race couples as wrong. Also ridiculous.

3) Other issues: My divorced friends do not feel welcome by the Church and yet do still feel an affiliation to the Church. Divorce & remarriage should not be something that excludes. It is sometimes the best & healthiest option.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes. Both divorced and same sex couples are not involved in the Catholic Church at all or as much as they would like.

5) What message do you want to send to the Synod? Message to American Bishops! Move the Church to a realistic view of families & sexuality: (1) Contraception is not abortion and is what is realistic and necessary in relationships. (2) Loving committed same sex relationships are natural and not a sin. Viewing these as a sin or choice is archaic and unrealistic. The Church needs to welcome all. (3) Similarly, divorce is a reality that is the best choice and divorce and remarried Catholics need to be welcomed as well.

Overall à A Church should be Positive & Welcoming of All Where They Are

Demographic Info: Female age 62, married, lay Catholic                                        #244

1) What constitutes a family: A family is very broad- much beyond Mom, Dad & kids. Such as: Single parent committed to raising a child, A childless couple (gay or heterosexual), Gay couple w/kids

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) The services the Church offers, including schools. (b: hinders) Saying that being gay is “disordered.” Contraception is wrong.

3) Other issues: My mom had horrible anxiety. In a large part, I think this condition was made worse by the constant fear of getting pregnant again. My daughter cannot understand why being gay is wrong if God made the person that way.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: My mom is still a strong Catholic, but it makes me question why the Church would have wanted my mom & dad to have more kids than they could afford.

5) Message to bishops: To: American Bishops, Really listen to the Catholic laity. Get the laity involved in decision making. Jesus never said that “his Church” had to be so hierarchical. The Church needs to be more welcoming & not so concerned with telling everyone (Catholic or not) what they are doing wrong. Jesus came with a message of love one another & spoke against all the rules & regulations of the Jewish Faith. New here we are 1000s of years later with a lot of rules & regulations. Would others recognize us as Christians “by the way we love one another?”

Demographic Info: Female age 65, married, lay Catholic                                                    #245

1) What constitutes a family: A group of people bound together by the commitment to each other, love for one another.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) Close family & friends who have divorced that were told they cannot be remarried in Catholic Church, cannot be Eucharistic ministers, (families/couples) who choose to use contraception responsibly so to limit their # of children or when to start a family who feel they are betraying Catholic rule, most who continue to belong to Catholic Church and use birth control. The Catholic Church not acknowledging that contraception use in some other countries (poverty) would help these families. Many family & friends who have cohabitation w/o regard to Catholic “rule.” -Same sex- Catholic teaching may say they acknowledge homosexuality but just have rules @ marriage within Catholic Church, YET there is discrimination within hiring, etc.

(b: hinders) Catholic Church must be pro-active about why millennials are not attending & why many others are leaving Catholic Church to become involved in other denominations or just not organized religion. Many of us want a community that includes everyone in administration & parishioners.

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church: 1 out of 2 of our children do not attend Catholic Church based on these issues. He was very influenced by the good teachers & youth ministers during formative years.

5) Message to bishops: How will American College of American Bishops “fight” for the people of the Catholic Church?

Demographic Info:    Female age 67, married, non-practicing Catholic                   #246

1) What constitutes a family: A family is any group of people who live together and live each other- be it man-woman, 2 men, or 2 women.

2) Church supports or hinders: All of the above. The Church has hurt family- How can a group of men have any idea how to raise a family and expect to talk about sex and keep two people from loving each other? And why should a divorced person have to pay money out to get remarried- when they (**illegible**) have not done anything other than wanting a better life with someone who they love.

3) Other issues: Yes, my son is gay and was raised in the Catholic schools.

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops: “American Bishop” Please start treating everyone the same and make the Church a welcoming place for everyone. This is America and we need to be kind, understanding and you need to bring trust back to the people.

Demographic Info: Male age 57, married, lay Catholic                                            #247

1) What constitutes a family: A group of people united in a variety of ways, marriage, living together, or who identify themselves as a family, who take responsibility for each other’s well-being.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) The church is only supportive of families that fit the Church’s definition of a family. Those that do are included and feel support from the Church. (b: hinders) Too exclusive, many families do not feel support and are ostracized in many ways.

3) Other issues: Heterosexual vs homosexual issue- a niece who left the Church. They are not welcome in the Church.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I feel less of an attachment to the Church. My respect for Church leadership is greatly diminished.

5) Message to bishops: American Bishops: The focus for the Church should be on helping those who struggle in a variety of ways, e.g. faith, poverty, relationships. The Church has a great message and can be extremely beneficial when the emphasis is there.

We currently focus on issues that detract from the beauty and wonder of the Church. We should be focusing on what unites us, not what divides us.

Demographic Info:    Male age 63, single, lay Catholic                                            #248

1) What constitutes a family: To me a family is an aggregate of individuals who not only care for each other, but look out for each other on a daily basis.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) Church focus on the inviolability of the family unit provides and example of the ideal when it’s helpful. (b: hinders) Mandatory celibacy among women & men religious; Belittling same sex attraction; Not accepting the reality of sexuality as a natural expression of caring in and of itself

3) Other issues: Divorced Catholics not being able to participate in Eucharist if no annulment;

Annulment process itself silly & passive/aggressive; Unrealistic mandates on sexuality outside of marriage.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes. I am a divorced Catholic who cannot be married in the Church again without an annulment.

Also would like to be able to welcome same-sex couples and (**illegible**) homosexuals into the “family of God,” but can’t.

5) Message to bishops: American Bishops: Please consider deleting the entire concept of annulment from Catholic doctrine & dogma. Jesus stated that not divorcing is the ideal; however, he admitted that God allowed it among the Israelites because they wanted it. I, too, believe that commitment and monogamy between two individuals is the idea; however, there are situations where (**illegible**) leads to divorce is necessary, and I would like to see the Church acknowledge that.

Demographic Info: Male age 65, married, lay Catholic                                            #249

1) What constitutes a family: Individuals that love and support one another. It is a group that puts the needs of others ahead of their own.

2) Church supports or hinders: These issues reflect the world as it (*is*) in many ways and the Church must consider and modify their teachings.

3) Other issues: I believe the Church needs to include women at all levels and positions including (especially) the priesthood.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes. I would describe myself as a bewildered Catholic, one who cannot understand the Church in its present state.

5) Message to bishops: American Bishops: Please work to bring the Catholic Church in line with Catholic teaching in a way that truly addresses these issues. Please work to be inclusive of women in all levels of the hierarchy of the Church.

Demographic Info: Male age 77, married 48 years, lay Catholic                             #250

1) What constitutes a family: At least one adult with a natural or adopted child or children is basic family. An extended family includes siblings and their children and grandparents and in-laws.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) Not much in my way of thinking. (b: hinders) Yes in that church “rules” often are antiquated and ill-suited to guide enlightened, modern societies.

3) Other issues: I believe the main church problem, much the same as many other institutions and cultures, is the failure to recognize and implement the equality of male and female.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: We have missed untold amounts of wisdom and insight and compassion that are possessed by females which could help make us better human beings and better examples and leaders for those less fortunate or repressed.

5) Message to bishops: Men and women are equal. Start changing your practices and rules which limit or deny women from fully contributing their talents to better the world.

Demographic Info: Female age 74, married, lay Catholic                                        #251

1) What constitutes a family: Two or more people bonded legally or by blood who share the same values and life goals. Extended, foster, step, traditional, adopted…

2) Church supports or hinders: The Church in regard to divorce should have counselors available in every parish trained to help troubled marriages. The Church should welcome all people regardless of sexuality and marriage status. What would Jesus do is my mantra!

3) Other issues: The abuse of minors by priests has affected many Catholics. Some people can’t feel worthy in the church because of their sexuality or because they are divorced. Relatives don’t like the rules and have left the church. Annulment process should be earlier.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: No because Christ is the center of the life of the Church and not actions of priests who are human or archbishops who are not pastoral.

5) Message to bishops: Church needs to address divorce, contraception, homosexuality with love, reality, and with input from people who have experiences these events.

Demographic Info: Female age 74, married, lay, practicing Catholic                      #252

1) What constitutes a family: Ideal – mother, father, children. Other families: one adult with children or others who are a group who care for each other. Two same sex parents, two cohabitating persons with children, etc.

2) Church supports or hinders: Church doesn’t approve of same sex families, cohabitating families, and they don’t support interfaith families. Many Catholics don’t pay attention to the Church regarding contraception. The Church does not understand the realities that people are living.

3) Other issues: I have a lesbian daughter who has become a Lutheran. She’s getting a Master’s in Divinity and will be a minister. She married her partner in the Lutheran Church. The Catholic Church has lost two wonderful people.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I still go to Church, but I have become very cynical about the new hierarchy who do not seem to be in touch with the lives of people today.

5) Message to bishops: We the people are the Church. We have to speak up. There is no Church if there are no people. We have to keep pressure on the Pope and clean out the bishops who have lied and deceived us, misused funds, & hidden pedophilia. If we don’t speak up, we are protecting the bishops. We are educated Catholics who have a conscience and free will. We CAN and should speak up.

Demographic Info: Female age 74, married, active in Catholic Church                   #253

1) What constitutes a family: Group of persons – not necessarily married – who are connected by shared experiences, who care for one another and wish the best for one another.

2) Church supports or hinders: (b: hinders) Many experience lack of support from clergy, denial of sacraments. They become “the other.”

3) Other issues: I have not been hurt or offended personally. Two of our three children do not attend or have changed to other church

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Again, not personally but I have witnessed pain and heartache of friends and loved ones who have felt excluded when they really need to be included.

5) Message to bishops: To truly imagine how Jesus would have done the bishops’ job and then do it! To be created in the likeness of Jesus.

Demographic Info: Female age 74, widow & remarried, lay Catholic                     #254

1) What constitutes a family: Families are evolving. They consist of partners who are committed to each other, have mutual respect, share love, possibly give birth to or adopt children.

2) Church supports or hinders: The rules related to above issues cause people shame, guilt, unhappiness, & loneliness. Many leave the Church. The largest religion is the NONE Catholics/Christians.

3) Other issues: Not using birth control in early marriage was unhealthy due to avoiding lovemaking and enjoying it. Frigidity could become a problem.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: The Church has lost credibility with my children. One was a victim of pedophilia by a priest. So they seldom attend Mass. They don’t believe in teachings on contraception.

5) Message to bishops: The Church needs to be relevant to the lives of our people, especially our youth. Our parish priests need to be supported emotionally and have the freedom to be pastoral. They should not suffer from punitive hierarchy. Parishes must be inclusive. Eucharist should be open to all who attend Mass – the divorced, homosexuals, etc. We should not judge what is in people’s hearts. Enough of guilt and shame. Women should be allowed to be priests. Former priests who left to marry should be asked to return.

Demographic Info: Male age 74, single, lay Catholic                                   #255

1) What constitutes a family: Married father – mother and siblings living together through formidable years – including same sex.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) How could they be? The bishops have no idea unless input such as this from laity is used exclusively. (b: Hinders) Not “hinders” but “being destructive to”

3) Other issues: My generation grew up with Catholic teachings. My children’s generation is falling away from Catholic teachings. What are the reasons? I think teachings around sexuality, marriage, and family not being what the 21st century needs.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Actually, I am just now getting over the harm caused by fire and brimstone priests and nuns. Current priests are doing much better with realities.

5) Message to bishops: Do something to entice our children’s generation to choose the Catholic Church!! And do it quickly; we are the END generation. Wake up to the fact that that generation is in trouble.

Demographic Info: Male age 75, Catholic – active lay                                            #256

1) What constitutes a family: People who care, love, support

2) Church supports or hinders: In my family, members who have been divorced or who are gay have been told they are not welcome. The Church is out of step with issues like contraception. One brother who was in the seminary and then married would have been a wonderful priest.

3) Other issues: A looming issue is the “death with dignity” or “right to die” issue. I do not agree with the Church’s stand on this issue. Also, the church’s treatment, lack of acceptance of women is very sad. We need complete equality.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: The Church was the center of my family life growing up. It has become marginalized and is viewed by many family members as not being relevant in their lives.

5) Message to bishops: Begin organizing the laity to create a collective voice so the Church can begin effectively dealing with family issues on an ongoing basis.

Demographic Info: Male age 73, married, lay Catholic                                            #257

1) What constitutes a family: Two people in a committed relationship: Options: children? One parent with children? Same sex (with or without children)

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) Very supportive to some. (b: hinders) Sometimes and some ways not relevant. Generally too complex in structure, teaching, etc. Hypocritical on some issues – lost the moral authority and tries to teach.

3) Other issues: I think the Church’s understanding and wisdom regarding sexuality doesn’t match their knowledge of it. Much like our modern culture…people have the responsibility to search, learn, grow, tec.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I believe that we are each responsible for our own moral and theological status and understanding. I believe that we should focus on the message and not the messenger. I have always understood that at the bottom of it all, we the people are the Church.

5) Message to bishops: There are many Catholics who are looking for the Church to carry the message of forgiveness and salvation that Christ preached. People are looking for a relative teaching…one that is consistent with what they experience in their daily lives. If they don’t see congruent, relative messages, they will simply walk away. They are looking for humble, inclusive actions not just rhetoric. I think the Church gets too focused on rubrics and dogma. We need real, humble leadership. If young people or any people see talk that doesn’t match the behavior, they simply won’t respond.

Demographic Info: Female age 55, single, lay Catholic                                           #258

1) What constitutes a family: Friends (especially single individuals without a support structure), parents, Cabrini, siblings, nephews, nieces

2) Church supports or hinders: Do away with harshness surrounding divorce. Redirect energies onto reasons for entering marriage. What role does feeling comfort in being alone.

3) Other issues: Single life as a vocation, not as a precursor to religious life or marriage.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: It has taken me a long me to even begin to understand how to be a part of serving and enriching the Catholic Church.

5) Message to bishops: Please help to guide and nourish spiritual friendship that may serve to support those without families while avoiding emphasis on helping the “less fortunate.” Nurture a spirituality centered around gifts and needs as conveyed in the celebration of Pentecost.

Demographic Info: Female age 76, divorced, lay Catholic                                      #259

1) What constitutes a family: Close, caring, supportive relationships with blood or chosen people / ongoing / dependable relationships

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) sacred status of marriage (b: hinders) non-inclusive, rigid rules. Re: divorce/remarriage – contraception – same sex relationships – possible cohabitation…in order to make informed decision on a marriage. Allow gay etc right to be in loving relationships as a sacramental state of grace. Second changes / forgiveness like Christ on the Cross.

3) Other issues: Annulment process unnecessarily shaming, punitive, expensive. An adult Christian knows his/her status. Regarding contraception, it is irresponsible not to be able to decide health of family by size, etc. Too focused on the law versus relationship with Christ.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes, I am more interested in the spiritual effect on affiliation with a possible Christian organization.

5) Message to bishops: Patriarchal Church needs to change to include women on same level of inclusion. Celibacy of priests and nuns should be personal choice – healthier understanding of majority of church (us).

Demographic Info: Female, age 70, married, lay Catholic                                       #260

1) What constitutes a family: I think this can’t be rigid. Perhaps people have to decide this for themselves.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) I think marriage prep classes are a good idea IF they are done right. (b: hinders) Divorce and remarriage – the annulment process is hurtful and family members have refused to go through it and are no longer in the Church. They feel ostracized and unaccepted. Contraception ban is so out of line with lived experience that it’s hard to believe the Church is still gnawing on this bone.

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church: The hierarchy has lost its moral authority by the child sex abuse scandal, by their aggressive stand against homosexuals (and marriage of same) and by their inability to further the reforms of Vatican II.

5) Message to bishops: Please LISTEN to us! Please accept all human beings. Please be open to change regarding contraception, acceptance of divorced and remarried, and get rid of annulment process.

Demographic Info: Female age 71, married, lay Catholic                                        #261

1) What constitutes a family: Mother, father, children, grandchildren, grandparents, aunts & uncles, cousins

2) Church supports or hinders: There sometimes seems to be mixed messages – especially regarding annulments and contraception. How annulments are gotten and why it seems that some are politically granted and others not. I believe that the priest who handles the annulments in our diocese was moved there because of sexual abuse – why? What kind of background is that?

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church: No.

5) Message to bishops: Make annulments more available to all Catholics.

Demographic Info: Female age 80, married, lay Catholic                                        #262

1) What constitutes a family: People who form a community by committing to care and love one another in joy and sorrow through the vicissitudes of life.

2) Church supports or hinders: I would like to see our Church be supportive of people going through divorce – respecting the experiences of each partner - working with the couple or the individuals to counsel if possible – but aware that since that cannot always happen, support the individuals to move ahead in their journeys. Eventually, if either party remarries there is a way for them to return to the sacraments – as nourishment. Contraception should be ultimately a decision of the couple. People in a same sex committed relationship should be accepted; no sacraments denied. Acceptance by the Church of the fact that same-sex attraction or LGBT issues are facts, not perverted disease on part of individuals.

3) Other issues: As a parent of a gay son, I am grateful for those in the Church who ministered to my son and to us.

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops: The Church we grew up in did not value a person’s “experience.” Today it is taken seriously. Emotions were discounted. Pope Francis is willing to listen and value it. Genesis says “one should not live alone” as much as it says we must procreate. The witness of the long, committed relationships of same sex couples speaks loudly of the value of “gay” relationships. Contraception must be addressed: See Peter Steinfels’ article, “Contraception and Honesty” in the Commonweal Blog of May 14, 2015. It states exactly what I believe. Single lay members of our families should be honorably Addressed As a vocation as a Christian when dealing with talk of families.

Demographic Info: Male age 76, married 47 years, lay practicing Catholic#263

1) What constitutes a family: Any group of people living together and dependent on each other.

2) Church supports or hinders: (b: hinders) Definitely!

3) Other issues: We have a gay daughter who is highly educated and well-read in religious areas and who is now Lutheran.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: The Catholic Church is uninvolved with its members

5) Message to bishops: Open the Church to All including divorced, gays, etc.

Demographic Info: Male age 74, married, lay Catholic                                            #264

1) What constitutes a family: Parents and children and related grandchildren, etc.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) willingness to discuss and sometimes support people with difficulties relating to these issues. (b: hinders) Difficulties including contraception and divorce and abortion.

3) Other issues: Definition of marriage

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes, keeps you from being a fully participating member of the Church.

5) Message to bishops: Use the pope to convene a council to discuss the issues raised by the members (and former members) of the Church to see what changes can be made.

Demographic Info: Male age 76, married, lay Catholic                                            #265

1) What constitutes a family: Husband, wife, children

2) Church supports or hinders: I believe divorced couples should be able to re-marry and be included sacramentally with the Church. Contraception (excluding abortion) should not be the business of the Church. Couples should make mutual agreements on this matter. Cohabitation is sinful and not an acceptable practice. Same sex attraction should not exclude partners from sacraments.

3) Other issues: Yes, my sister married a former priest. He was released from the priestly ministry by Rome. (Lengthy procedure). They’ve had a good marriage for about 40 years. Great loss to the priest ministry. Both are very active Catholics.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Some resentment, reason I feel this has to be changed (married priests) for the good of the Church in so many ways.

5) Message to bishops: You know the issues and our concerns. We want answers and action, or we’ll lead another reformation action! We’re no longer going to just belong. We’re going to see our church through our eyes the way so many of the majority have expressed.

Demographic Info: Male age 74, married, practicing Catholic                                 #266

1) What constitutes a family: Parents, siblings and all relatives – but the core is grandparents parents, children, grandchildren

2) Church supports or hinders: Both. Church teachings are mostly supportive for the nuclear family, but also can be divisive, such as divorce teaching and rules. Destructive to the spouse that has followed the Church rules but may have no responsibility for the reason for the divorce.

3) Other issues: Divorce without responsibility is a big one.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes, annulments should not be based on politics or the amount of money you have.

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Male age 75, married, lay Catholic                                            #267

1) What constitutes a family:

2) Church supports or hinders: There are marriages that need and should be dissolved – divorce! (abuse, etc). This should be acceptable. Remarriage should be acceptable in those cases. It seems like too many barriers are put up and it is frowned upon. Let God be the judge! Birth control – should be acceptable in certain cases, ie, have four kids, mother not capable of more for various reasons. Let God be the judge. Same sex attraction – no matter what the Church’s position on this topic, they should not be shunned. They are welcome. Let God be the judge.

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church: My faith is really between God and I. I am a practicing Catholic, find Mass a great gathering of Christians who are an inspiration. I wish I had their passion that I see. However, even if I have difficulty seeing some teachings, it does not negatively affect my faith or participation in the Church.

5) Message to bishops: The Church is losing the young! I don’t think you know why. Find out. Many older people are staying even though they disagree with many things in the Church. Yet they stay despite this. When they are gone, what’s left? You need to find out!

Demographic Info: Male age 80, married, lay Catholic                                            #268

1) What constitutes a family: A group of people with some degree of common purpose.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) yes, but to a limited degree. (b: hinders) hindering families by maintaining the church dogma and hierarchy.

3) Other issues: The Church position on divorce and the sacraments is absurd and unrealistic.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes, I have diminished respect for the leadership of the Church. The issue of sexual abuse and associated cover up is…deplorable!

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Female age 75, married over 50 years, practicing Catholic       #269

1) What constitutes a family: Immediate family – those living together, related directly or through relationship who share responsibility and support each other. Extended family – those not living together but who continue to be support and who celebrate life together regularly. The best marriage I have known is a couple who never had children. They taught me that love is a gift and that sexuality is the expression of that love.

2) Church supports or hinders: As a young, newly married, I felt supported through our participation together, our relationships with clergy, and by the sacraments. Recently the Church feels less supportive of our young adults; they are estranged, and the clergy quite remote. Our son experienced a separation from his wife, turned to the Church, but received no support or understanding.

3) Other issues: I was taught that the purpose of marriage was procreation but I have learned that the relationship of marriage is much more about mutual support and celebration on a journey of life though joys and sorrows.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I feel the Church is now more concerned about maintaining its structure than about what we need to cope with the struggles of life. We have little voice and there are few things relevant to the younger adults in most of parish life to their lives and modern relationship issues.

5) Message to bishops: 1) Embrace Vatican II. 2) Bestow priesthood to women already holding advanced degrees in theology. 3) Begin redesigning parish life around the precepts of community as defied in Vatican II. 4) Welcome all disenfranchised groups back into the Church.

Demographic Info: Male age 75, married, religious                                                 #270

1) What constitutes a family: Parents, children, spouse, and offspring of same

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) The Church stresses the institution of marriage and family. This is very important. Society must have as a basis fundamentally sound foundation such as the family values, responsibilities of all members toward themselves and the rest of society. The street constantly exhibits examples of the failure of not abiding by the above. (b: hinders) Church puts many pressures on family that do not apply to the above principle. Divorce, pre-marital sexuality, unfaithfulness, are realities and must be recognized as unwanted events but not reasons for denying the sacraments to the mostly faithful.

3) Other issues: The church needs to recognize that people who are born by God’s blessings are not to be condemned because they are homosexual. Divorce should not prevent people from leading happy and healthy lives with others. The Church must open itself to a broader group of religious direction. Nuns, women priests, married priests and those religious outside of the Catholic faith.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I am only affected by the pain I see in others. I am at peace with my beliefs and the way I live.

5) Message to bishops: Make the Church relevant to the needs of its members. We have lost 70% of the faithful Catholic lay persons. Get in line or get out of the way. Make the Church a place all people love and revere. It isn’t about you and the persons in Rome. It is about me, my wife, my sons and daughters who think there is no place in the Church for them!

Demographic Info: Female age 72, married, practicing Catholic                             #271

1) What constitutes a family: Mother, father, children, extended relatives (any of the above could be absent, but a family starts with two people coming together).

2) Church supports or hinders: Church reaches out to traditional families but ignores any non-traditional families or a divorced family member. Church loves conformity – not much room for differences – definitely male dominated.

3) Other issues: There is barely a family I know not touched by homosexuality. Lousy teachings on marriage and contraception has wrecked many marriages, and the alienation of divorced Catholics is a travesty.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: My devotion to the sacraments has kept me strong in my belief in the Church Jesus founded, and I refuse to leave even if my views are counter to some past papal directives. I pray one day to see both married and female priests, and I long to see alienated families return to the Catholic Church. So many have been alienated because of sexual related issues.

5) Message to bishops: Listen to the people!! Listen to the words of Jesus Christ / they’re very similar. Let Catholics teach and preach tolerance, understanding, love and forgiveness.

Demographic Info: Male age 75, married, lay Catholic                                            #272

1) What constitutes a family: A unit – mother, father, children, ancestors, etc, descendants, etc

2) Church supports or hinders: Divorce and remarriage – very restrictive and detrimental. Contraception – needs to be relaxed, not just natural family planning. Same sex attraction – people are wired that way.

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Birth control – it’s widely done and a sin! Divorce – a better way to reinstate a person after a bad marriage is needed. Annulment isn’t a good term.

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Male age 62, married with children, lay Catholic                     #273

1) What constitutes a family: More than one definition. Predominant – father, mother and children and relatives by blood or otherwise. Substantial – adults and children and relatives by blood, name, relationship.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) faith formation, sacraments. (b: hinders) Humanae Vitae blew off recommendations of the commission (representatives of the Church/the People) established to advise the Church/the Institution. The Church/the Institution’s teachings on homosexuality is not helpful or loving for many who are or have family or friends who are homosexual. God created homosexuals too.

3) Other issues: Annulment – presumes fault and reflects a lack of compassion at vulnerable time. Contraception – Church focus on one purpose (procreation) of God-given sexuality, with little recognition of other purposes (relationship, bond). Marriage – civil vs. religious, including sacramental (lack of recognition of church law not trumping civil law).

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Reduces confidence in the Church the Institution. Causes many people to abandon the Catholic Church, including my children.

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Male age 64, married, lay person                                               #274

1) What constitutes a family: Sometimes a family is one – some families may number in the hundreds or more. Gender is of least consequence.

2) Church supports or hinders: (b: hinders) In my life experience, I have found that the laws of the Church replace love with fear. Often the thoughts and relationships of caring people, loving people are buried with the weight of laws. What may be true as love is sufficient. Sometimes laws ignore the person we are, the gift we are to others. Laws control and often take us into the depths of despair.

3) Other issues: Contraception, masturbation, homosexuality and the rules which deny the gifts of another.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: When there is no way of resolution, acceptance and welcome, how can a person be blamed. How would I feel?

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Female age 78, widow, lay Catholic                                         #275

1) What constitutes a family: Biologic – Adoptive – Church – Neighborhood – Work – Play

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) My Catholic faith and Church would be accepting persons of same sex, divorced, remarriage with kindness & charity. (b: hinders) Unable or unwilling to welcome or worse to judge anyone of those people.

3) Other issues: Homosexuality divorce and remarriage. Transgender – family could not talk about and family member was abandoned and ultimately died of alcohol abuse.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Some members have left because of their lifestyle and the belief that they were not welcome. God is Love. Let’s remember when we relate ourselves.

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Female age 77, widowed, living with partner as married, lay               #276

1) What constitutes a family: Couple who are committed to one another and who are devoted to the best interests of one another and their children.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) Supportive to all families. The Church needs to welcome divorced and remarried members as well as those who are in the gay community. Cohabitation among elderly is also something the church needs to bless and support. Priest gives blessing to those that can’t marry because of legal ramifications. I appreciate Fr. Tony giving our union a blessing as he said an older couple shouldn’t be along.

3) Other issues: Fr. Tom Adamson was a frequent visitor in our home when my 15 year old was recovering from a severe head trauma and injuries. He tried to take advantage of him but was stopped by another one of my sons. It was disheartening. When it all came out about Fr. Tom it was sickening. I was told we could have been sued, but we chose not to do this.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I still have my faith. I know it was the choice of this priest but I am angry that he was simply moved to another parish and got no punishment. Parish helps us to understand.

5) Message to bishops: Priests should have option to marry.

Demographic Info: Female, widow, lay Catholic                                                     #277

1) What constitutes a family: People related – or not – who care, love, enjoy, and work together for the good of that family.

2) Church supports or hinders: As someone who prepared couples for marriage, it has been difficult for me as we ignore the “teachings of the church” regarding cohabitation and contraception. I believe we as Church unfortunately have done a great disservice to our children in our faith formation programs in not really explaining the beauty of no sex before marriage, cohabitation and contraception. Kids do what they do because society is “doing it!!” How do they know not to when “all their friends” are doing it? I do not know of any program in our parish – or any other - where we have any instruction at all. We wait till they come to get married and by then they are sleeping together and living together. How ridiculous of some priests to tell a young couple to separate for six months before he will marry them!!!

Annulments: How can we make the process more fair, open, and helpful. It is a good process in reality – let’s make it something to help divorced people better understand. Maybe an “annulment class.”

3) Other issues: All – I have five kids, all who went to Catholic schools, faith formation, and Catholic colleges. None are practicing Catholics because of all the issues!

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I get so angry at the leaders of the church for being so “unbending” when it comes to the “real” flock – open their eyes to the realities of life in the real world.

5) Message to bishops: Women in the Church: What are the “guys” afraid of? We could have such a beautiful, wonderful church if we all worked together for the glory of God!!! Be open to everyone, love everyone and forget about the “rules.” Be loving to one another. Communion to all! Let all come to the table of the Lord!

Demographic Info: Female age 76, widowed, lay Catholic                                     #278

1) What constitutes a family: Group supportive of each other economically, physically, spiritually.

2) Church supports or hinders: Hindering families as far as contraception. It is romantic to think women are honored by no artificial contraception but in reality many are hurt – little rural medical care in Africa, India etc. causes injured women thrown out of homes for urine smell and leakage and Aids passed by long absent husbands returned from distant work. Many women do not have the connective tissue to hold up more than one pregnancy resulting in inability to function as a strong mother. Some get an operation to fix stretching tendons and falling uterus but some will never have the opportunity for surgery and limp as injured people. Blood clotting disorders could kill some women with another pregnancy, and they chose tying tubes rather than husband and wife living in separate houses. The romantic idea of nothing artificial does not match the horrible realities. Some women have nervous breakdowns and can’t care for the other children . Each has their limit.

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I keep seeking truth and expressing what is really happening.

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Male age 78, married, lay, baptized, active                               #279

1) What constitutes a family: A group of loving persons living together with blood relationships or committed relationships.

2) Church supports or hinders: Sacrament of marriage, adult ed, youth ministry, prep for sacraments. But lacks teaching special tools/skills for blended families and mix marriages, committed gays, etc. All who are outside of the mainstream.

3) Other issues: The church’s teachings on birth control are impractical in the light of modern methods and which are more effective and useable such as the pill.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: It has taught me that my conscience is supreme and while the Church intends good, it can be wrong. I use the Church teaching as a useful guideline but not an absolute. This does not work for everyone and some want the church to be super-human and mistake free.

5) Message to bishops: We who comment love the Church. We love it as we love our family and children in spite of imperfections, flaws. It does not mean we do not want reform, renewal. We do.

Demographic Info: Male age 80, married, lay practicing                                         #280

1) What constitutes a family:

2) Church supports or hinders: I believe that the Church’s teaching on sexuality is off base and results in losing people who have no faith in the Church teachings.

3) Other issues: I don’t understand the drives for cohabitation. Also there needs to be some consideration given to remarriage. I do not know what this should be. I believe the Church’s teaching on same sex marriage is not founded on sound principle.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: As a result of the Church’s teaching on sexuality, I have no respect for their other teachings.

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Female age 72, married, lay Catholic                                        #281

1) What constitutes a family: Parents and children or two individuals

2) Church supports or hinders: (b: hinders) Divorce is reality. The Church needs to support these people. Annulments should not prohibit getting married again in the Church. Contraception should be a personal matter. Annulments should not be required. Church should provide more support for marriages.

3) Other issues: Making a non-Catholic get an annulment before being able to marry Catholics.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: No, it just makes it hard when it doesn’t feel right.

5) Message to bishops: The Church should be about so many other things than people’s personal biases.

Demographic Info: Female age 75+, married 28 yrs, divorced 33 yrs, practicing                #282

1) What constitutes a family: Two or more people living together, caring and supporting of each other, loving one another.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) No. (b: hinders) Hindering

3) Other issues: The Church’s teaching on contraception was detrimental to my relationship and to my marriage. Abortion is wrong to consider, contraception can help this problem. The issue of divorce needs to be reviewed.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: No, I followed my own conscience, asking for God’s guidance at the time!

5) Message to bishops: Respect for each of us. Teach the love, goodness, and compassion of God.

Demographic Info: Female, divorced but moving through friendship after many years of unresolved differences, lay Catholic                                                                                 #283

1) What constitutes a family: The place I come from that supports my creative movement, knowing what I come from and where

2) Church supports or hinders: People who live within these areas tend to “leave” the Church; I’ve experienced unresolved differences of opinions during discussions. The people who have left the Church have so much anger that they can’t accept anything from the Church.

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops: We need to have a more global perspective that embraces cultural differences.

Demographic Info: Male age 72, married, lay Catholic                                            #284

1) What constitutes a family: My wife my children & grandchildren - sisters

2) Church supports or hinders: Certain (not all) clergy are still practicing and teaching the ideas that were common through the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s and before as being sinful. This hurts especially as respects to divorce and remarriage.

3) Other issues: Some of the clergy mentioned above are teaching my grandchildren these ideas and that’s make them judgmental of my relationship.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: No because I am a member of a very understanding parish.

5) Message to bishops: Drop the whole concept of the teachings in our seminaries on sin. Open the minds of seminarians. Put the books that support such teachings away in archives so they don’t impact the seminarians.

Demographic Info: Female age 76, widow with male friend, lay Catholic              #285

1) What constitutes a family: A group that operates to support each other with love …with or without children.

2) Church supports or hinders: (b: hinders) We are an overpopulated world! As the pope says, “We should not breed like rabbits.” The faithful have spoken on contraception (or left the Church). Time for male celibate priests to get with the program.

3) Other issues: Yes. The rigidity on all issues regarding sex, the scandals have driven our children and grandchildren from the faith.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes, my frustration has driven me to a action. We are the Church.

5) Message to bishops: Please hear the pleas of the faithful. Abortion can be reduced substantially with acceptance of contraception. We need to respect the limits of our universe to support life.

Accepting same gender marriage is a civil rights issue. Jesus would not discriminate against any of God’s creation. “All that God created is good.”

Refusing sacraments to Catholics who have divorced and remarried while accepting priests who have also made life vows doesn’t seem right. One can be forgiven for almost anything else and receive the sacraments.

The annulment process should be scrubbed. Denying a marriage ever happened when there are children is NOT right.

Preparation of priests in seminaries needs to change, be liberalized regarding family life, sex, and marriage.

Demographic Info: Female age 52, married (heterosexual), lay Catholic                             #286

1) What constitutes a family: A family is a constellation of people committed to support each other with shared love and respect.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) Not supportive. (b: hinders) I believe the official “church” doctrines profoundly wound individuals and families with its human-initiated decrees, not God-inspired. It also needs to recognize healthy human sexuality, poverty, real-life circumstances, and allow contraception.

3) Other issues: I have numerous former Catholic friends who have left the Catholic Church due to its cruel and inhumane treatment of divorcees, same sex couples, et al.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes. My former Catholic friends are not primarily Episcopalian or non-Church members.

5) Message to bishops: What would Jesus do? The God of my understanding loves all people. Therefore, I believe our Catholic Church needs to re-root itself in the love, compassion and open-ness of Christ to all families in the many diverse and beautiful forms we take. Our God is not a vindictive judgmental God. Therefore our Church should not be a shaming, judging and demeaning church or faith. We are called to epitomize true, deep, fundamental love and open-mindedness which Jesus so aptly demonstrated, catalyzed us to do two centuries ago and continues to call us to do today as 21st century Catholics!

Demographic Info: Female age 65, married, lay, practicing Catholic                      #287

1) What constitutes a family: That which I do not have.

2) Church supports or hinders: The Church does not allow the teaching of sexuality in our schools to our children. That many do not want change. When I lost my babies, the priest never came to the hospital.

3) Other issues: The annulment procedure needs to be discarded; in the eyes of the Church I am not forgiven as I am divorced/remarried.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I left the Church for several years. The priest who I gave my story to with the annulment lost it. Then I left.

5) Message to bishops: Listen to your people.

Demographic Info: Male age 75, married heterosexually, lay, practicing Catholic              #288

1) What constitutes a family: A self-identified social unit which says “We are a family.” More than one person in most cases. And single individuals have some status, particularly from their family of origin, for example.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) In some statements or traditions, we help all families. (b: hinders) In some we discriminate or have discriminated against families for whom Church tradition does not provide the support and love which we could.

3) Other issues: A friend was told he could not receive communion because he and his wife practiced birth control in the 1960’s. He felt estranged from church and God.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: He was basically unchurched. I grieved, especially when he died (and was divorced). He felt adrift. I felt helpless to make a difference.

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Male age 61, single, lay Catholic                                               #289

1) What constitutes a family: Blood or non-blood related people who live as a family bound by love and dedication to each other for a lifetime.

2) Church supports or hinders: Non-supportive in many cases. But also non-knowing or recognizing. Cabrini is an exception to this in many ways.

3) Other issues: Loss of parishioners in same sex relationships. I have seen harsh treatment of divorced church members.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Empathy – and sense of loss for those who are excluded.

5) Message to bishops: Develop further examination and re-development of Church teaching in these matters.

Demographic Info: Female age 67, single (divorced) lay Catholic                          #290

1) What constitutes a family: Well that’s a big question! A group of people who join together under one roof as a sharing purposeful community.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) Not very – other than sacramental and instructional programs. (b: hinders) Many: (1) Telling couples they’re bad if they use contraception. (2) Very poor children’s – especially teen – programs except for schools. (3) No support for GLBT Catholics. (4) No support for divorcing couples. (5) Women/girls don’t get validation or respect for their personhood. (6) Little help for families. (7) Annulment? Hah!

3) Other issues: (1) Too much emphasis on sex rather than sexuality, especially for young people. (2) Very bad examples by priests and diocese around pedophilia. (Priests can hurt children and the church doesn’t care. The Old Boy System is most important.)

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I don’t trust any Church hierarchy because I don’t think they care about the people (the Church).

5) Message to bishops: What do unmarried MEN know about who live along or with other men know about working out problems in families? (loving 1 other person, choosing to have children, raising children, teaching children, old age.)

Demographic Info: Male age 73, married, practicing                                               #291

1) What constitutes a family: People committed to one another for life. Has to include children.

2) Church supports or hinders: Mostly useless and irrelevant.

3) Other issues: The slowness of the annulment process.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: No.

5) Message to bishops: Lose the emphasis on sexuality and address relationship issues.

Demographic Info: Female age 81, divorced, practicing Catholic                           #292

1) What constitutes a family: Any two or more people living together in whatever combination of sexes and ages.

2) Church supports or hinders: The bishops must realize that the horse is out of the barn on all these issues. The real question is how can men and women become educated on “real family life.” Then develop attitudes to support the people where they are, not where the “church” says they should be. How to help all to be Christlike.

3) Other issues: Male dominance started with the development of agriculture as women tilled the fields, men stayed hunter/gatherers. The time has come for women to have equality if not dominance for many reasons. (There are now more women college graduates than men world-wide.)

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Second class citizenship as a woman.

5) Message to bishops: Ordain women and married men for 5 years minimum/max to have rotating leaders.

Demographic Info: Male age 61, divorced, lay Catholic                                          #293

1) What constitutes a family: People living together, loving, caring about each other.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) Catholic schools, hospitals, social action help such as Catholic Charities. (b: hinders) Not recognizing divorced couples as families.

3) Other issues: Birth control, annulments.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I am divorced and have not gone through the annulment process.

5) Message to bishops: Allow remarriage after divorce without going through the annulment process.

Demographic Info: Female age 73, married, lay Catholic                                        #294

1) What constitutes a family: A group (two or more) committed to love, protect, respect each other – friendship.

2) Church supports or hinders: (b: hinders) annulment issue

3) Other issues: We have a daughter divorced and Church teachings say she is not welcome because she did not get an annulment.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Once again I have spoken out against such teachings and invited my daughter or whomever has been excluded from the community of Church.

5) Message to bishops: Look at the sacrament of marriage with open hearts to see the beauty of love, not only in one man and one woman, rather in all of the types of relationships around marriage.

Demographic Info: Male age 76, married, lay Catholic                                            #295

1) What constitutes a family: A family is a group of two or more people who have made a commitment to all in the group to care for one another and to live in community with one another.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) The teachings and practices are very supportive of the traditional understanding of what constitutes a family. And in that way support one segment of my definition of family. (b: hinders) By the emphasis placed on this definition of family, the teaching and practice restricts and shuts out those other families that don’t fit. This hurts and restricts their participation in the life of the Church.

3) Other issues: These are sufficient for now if they are considered in depth!

4) Effect on relationship to Church: This has not affected my relationship with the Catholic Church but it has affected the relationship of virtually all the rest of my immediate family and to some extent my extended family.

5) Message to bishops: The main message is to seek and continue to listen to the baptized members of the Church – not only the ordained members. They must also be open to the wisdom that is available outside the baptized members of the Catholic community. I want them to remember “the primacy of persons” in all their deliberations.

Demographic Info: Female age 70, single/divorced, practicing lay Catholic                       #296

1) What constitutes a family: Two or more people in a loving, caring, and supporting “family” unit. Adults and children.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) only if the “family” obeys. (b: hinders) Divorce looked upon as a failure, a stigma. Contraception arguments causes problems in a marriage. Church is archaic in teachings. What personal experience do decision makers have? Usually none.

3) Other issues: Sex / sexuality looked upon as “dirty” – duty, shameful.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Raised in a strict Catholic home, caused many problems with my parents’ marriage and mine. Our marriage did not last.

5) Message to bishops: Include lay people – especially women – in these decisions. People with real life experience. The Church is driving people away. Too rigid!

Demographic Info: Male age 75, married 48 years, lay Catholic                             #297

1) What constitutes a family: Two or more people that share life that has commitment, hopefully affection, and an unexplainable bond to each other.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) Church teachings that emphasize love and forgiveness, which is the heart of the Good News. (b: hinders) Church rules or laws which on one point may be correct, when applied without full understanding of all circumstances are unhelpful and maybe unjust.

3) Other issues: I think the rules on divorce have kept many people from the Eucharist.

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops:

Demographic Info: Female age 67 divorce/remarried, lay Catholic, non-practicing due to being barred from receiving the sacraments.                                                                    #298

1) What constitutes a family: Whatever one or more human beings experience as his/her family.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) Authoritarian, dictatorial, non-supportive on all issues. (b: hinders) (1) With divorce & remarriage, Church practices disallow baptized Catholics from participating fully in the Church. Annulment is a simple-minded, nonsensical “answer.” (2) Young people practice cohabitation and many forms of contraception which separate them from full participation in the Church and may lend them to feel “less than Catholic.” Any contraception is better than abortion.

3) Other issues: The Church’s stand on homosexuality and gay marriage are forms of bullying. The family of the Rutger’s gay man who killed himself finally saw that their fundamentalist church’s preaching about homosexuality is a form of bullying.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I did not go to Church for 25 years. I don’t want to be part of an organization that tells me I should be happy to be a marginal member as a divorced and remarried Catholic. I avoid saying I am Catholic to strangers because I don’t want them to assume I discriminate against those of different sexual orientation.

5) Message to bishops: Stop punishing divorced and remarried Catholics. Realize that every baby who is baptized Catholic deserves that unconditional love and welcome to the full Church for the rest of their lives.

Demographic Info: Male age 75, married, lay Catholic                                            #299

1) What constitutes a family: A family is a union of two people, committed to each other and providing the nucleus of society.

2) Church supports or hinders: While I find many parishioners and several religious to be supportive of family as state above in (1), the “official” church is largely non-supportive and occasionally even hurtful.

3) Other issues: I am saddened by my wife’s ambivalence towards the Church, caused by the “official” church position on remarriage without annulment.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I ignore the Church’s “official” teaching on sexuality, etc.

5) Message to bishops: Open your hearts to the voices in the Church that might deviate from the “official” positions, and have the courage to act on new ideas that are reflective of changes in society. For example, if for no other reason, the sex scandals within the Church call into question the requirement of celibacy among priests. Another example: We should avoid abortions by allowing contraception, or even supporting it for the good of society and in full recognition of human behavior. And there are many more examples…

Demographic Info: Male age 57, lay Catholic                                                          #300

1) What constitutes a family: A unit of people (or one) living together

2) Church supports or hinders: Harsh language is not supportive of all families. Position on birth control and contraception leads to broken families and difficult life styles for young and disadvantaged. Many families and individuals have left the church.

3) Other issues: My daughter no longer practices or attends. She suffers from depression and the non-supportive position of the church contributes to her low self-esteem.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: It has increased the frequency of my need or opportunity to defend my choice to continue to belong to a Catholic Church community.

5) Message to bishops: Be open to practical and real needs of all – no matter what their sex attraction or marital situation.

Demographic Info: Female age 72, single with a long-term partner, lay Catholic               #301

1) What constitutes a family: A relationship of two or more individuals who support and care for or about one another.

2) Church supports or hinders: Current official teaching/practice starts from and is formed in rules and expects adherence to these rules and dictates need for repentance if rules are not followed. This is frequently a source of pain and a stumbling block for people involved in the reality of living in today’s world.

3) Other issues: I grew up with a very rigid Catholicism. From childhood this has limited my sense of freedom, trust in my own judgment, my understanding of the ineffable love of God.

4) Effect on relationship to Church:

5) Message to bishops: I want the Synod to put compassion first, to involve lay persons and take our input seriously.

Demographic Info: Male age 62, widower, lay Catholic                                         #302

1) What constitutes a family: For me, a family is any unit of togetherness: single, gay, traditional, whatever is blessed in God’s eyes.

2) Church supports or hinders: (a: supports) Depending on the church, the church and people can be supportive or not in their words and actions. (b: hinders) The hierarchy turns people away if they are not a traditional marriage or person.

3) Other issues: I was married to a divorced woman, and she was concerned about being accepted, receiving communion, in the church.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I am staying, for now, because church is the people of God, the people of my church.

5) Message to bishops: Please accept all “families” whether they be widowed, divorced, traditional, anything.

Demographic Info: other gender, age 24, single, lay Catholic                                 #303

1) What constitutes a family: Love and support – a network of people who care about and for each other through good times and bad – blood or not, platonic, romantic, etc.

2) Church supports or hinders: (1) On same sex attraction, I cannot understand the Church’s objection to non-heterosexual love. How is a Catholic family founded on a same-sex partnership supposed to find community and support when the Church rejects us? I want to be Catholic and to live honestly. (2) On contraception: To condemn the use of contraception is backward, willfully ignorant (90% of women use contraception regardless of faith), and harmful to individuals and families. The founding of a family takes planning; it takes thought and care to succeed. Contraception makes that possible. (Including Plan B / the morning after pill in my definition of contraception).

3) Other issues: I frankly think that the church needs to take another look at its stance on abortion, not what it means, why it happens, and the morality of a woman’s self-determination.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I left the church for ten years because I was taught that I was unwelcome. It was the loneliest time.

5) Message to bishops: I know God loves me for who I am, not in spite of my bisexuality, but because of my whole self.

Demographic Info: Male age 72                                                                               #304

1) What constitutes a family: Parents & children

2) Church supports or hinders: Hinders or hurts families

3) Other issues:

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Moving beyond teaching to deepen relationships.

5) Message to bishops: Embrace people to learn how to revise teachings!

Demographic Info: Female age 77, single, lay Catholic                                           #305

1) What constitutes a family: Any household. One member or 10 or …

2) Church supports or hinders: Families are moveable, always changing. All of these apply.

3) Other issues: Divorce, remarriage, children leave home

4) Effect on relationship to Church: No, Church rules are not relevant.

5) Message to bishops: Make families universal. Realize ever changing.

Demographic Info: Female age 62, divorced, lay active Catholic                                        #306

1) What constitutes a family: Those who self-identify as family. This is a sacred relationship definition, not merely a legal one.

2) Church supports or hinders: (b: hinders) The Catholic ideal of family excludes too many. I am divorced. This is not a flaw or trouble. My divorce was a gift of life that the Holy Spirit guided me to. The Spirit may also call me to re-marry.

3) Other issues: Daughters and granddaughters have no place in this Church that encourages them into the fullness of their beings. They are limited to defined roles as second class citizens.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I cannot recommend this Church to my daughters and granddaughters until they are equal to men in all things – including Holy Orders.

5) Message to bishops: Seek to include all who come to our Church. Leave judgment to God.

 

Demographic Info: Female, 75, single, lay                                                               #307

1) What constitutes a family: Ideally, a woman and a man who are married with children, plus extended family of those who are related. Other, a parent with a child or children; a same sex partnership with children

2) Church supports or hinders: Church is supportive in terms of sacraments, school, hospital, and social services. Church hurts families/individuals when it is not inclusive or welcoming.

3) Other issues: I will never understand how the mother of my grandchild could leave the RCC. I will never understand how my niece’s husband has never forgiven his wife for her indiscretion and has continued to defame her for over 21 years!

4) Effect on relationship to Church: No. I love to listen to Fr. Leo Clifford on EWTN speak about the family, marriage and sexuality. He speaks against those who “use persons for selfishness.”

5) Message to bishops: Maintain tradition but become more inclusive.

Demographic Info: Female, 63, married, lay                                                            #308

1) What constitutes a family: Life giving, nurturing, loving community of persons who are committed to the good of each other and to the good of the larger community in which they live.

2) Church supports or hinders: Church teachings are perceived as excluding many who cannot live 100% in accordance with the rules. Most people I know share the Church’s commitment to the dignity and value of every life/person. The interpretation of what that looks like in real life varies a great deal. No one is in 100% agreement with the Church’s application of values.

3) Other issues: I disagree with mandatory priestly celibacy, ban on women’s ordination to the priesthood, over emphasis on sexual issues, and cover up of the priest sexual abuse crisis.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I know several persons who were unable to become Catholic because they couldn’t get an annulment of their marriage, often a marriage outside the church. Senseless!

5) Message to bishops: It’s time for real reform.

Demographic Info: Female, 67, married, lay                                                            #309

1) What constitutes a family: A family is a group of people with a long-term commitment to loving each other to the best of their ability. Children can get this group defined early. Yet the family continues when the children are grown and live on their own. Intimacy, whether physical or spiritual, often is the basis for coming together as a family.

2) Church supports or hinders: The Church is an obvious place for discussion and prayer about interacting with other human beings. When I was young, I experienced cohabitation as a necessary part of a loving committed interaction on the road to my marriage of 34 years. When laws of morality are considered black or white, then adherence becomes more important than love!

3) Other issues: The issue of whether to include and welcome those who don’t follow the norm has separated many families rather than united them in love.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Because I have been trained in the changing teachings of the Church through the centuries I never have seen a stated teaching of the Church as immutable or as something to be followed literally. However, it gives me pain to hear and witness Church teachings used as weapons and as qualifying prerequisites for God’s love.

5) Message to bishops: Learn as I did from theologians about how the Church evolves and reforms.

Demographic Info: Female, 78, single, practicing Catholic                                      #310

1) What constitutes a family: I would prefer that every child have a mother and father, but that is not possible in every case. A family is then a group with shared responsibilities in which persons support, love, and trust one another.

2) Church supports or hinders: The Church supports families by honoring fathers and mothers. The Church is not supportive of all, however. The complex society of today presents hardships that may not have existed when some of the teachings were decided upon, and I’m thinking of contraception or birth control. I know of family that went crazy practicing the rhythm method and trying to educate so many children. They sought help in the confession from priests, and they received different advice from different priests. Those who were counseled to follow their consciences usually stayed in the Church. Those who were told to accept all children that come became very angry and often left the Church.

3) Other issues: I don’t think sexuality is taught well in the Church. The Church is too afraid to discuss the real issues.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: No. I love my Church, but I do think we need reform.

5) Message to bishops: Reform.

Demographic Info: Female, 78, divorced/widowed, lay, practicing                                    #311

1) What constitutes a family: Mother, father, children, relative, community, friends

2) Church supports or hinders: Remarriage without an annulment should be changed. I personally don’t even believe in the annulment process. Many marriages once existed, were real, but deteriorated over time. And why shouldn’t a remarried, divorced Catholic without an annulment be permitted to receive the Eucharist. The Church is losing enough parishioners as it is.

3) Other issues: I had no problem practicing contraception. My conscience said it was right after 5 children. I do have trouble believing that priests can relate to families who want to limit their families.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I see the Church as hypocritical. They preach against contraception knowing full well that about 90% of Catholics practice contraception, most with a good conscience.

5) Message to bishops: Bishops should own up to the truth and stop being fearful of authorities who may criticize them.

Demographic Info: Female, 60, married, lay, practicing                                          #312

1) What constitutes a family: Members of a family are people who love, support, honor, and respect each other. They are people who believe in a higher power and base their lifestyle on this belief. If they do not do this, they are just people living together.

2) Church supports or hinders: Church does both. I think a person with strong faith will work harder at any relationship they are in. It will not become a “convenience” relationship that is easily discarded. However, there is a huge difference in having faith and a personal interpretation of what faith is.

3) Other issues: In my early life, because my mother (my grandmother actually) had divorced due to a volatile marriage, I was affected. As the child of this mother, I was not always welcomed. As I came back to the Church as an adult, and because my husband was not Catholic, we and our children were not treated well. Our marriage was called a “mixed marriage.” Some Catholics did not consider it valid. We did raise our children as Catholic. To this day, however, my husband does not always feel welcomed in the Church. My children and I still retain some scars because of how we were treated.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: Yes. I did not attend or practice my faith for many years. Not until I reached my “low” did I come to realize that God the Father is always there. I need to return to the Church and to Jesus’ teachings.

5) Message to bishops: Reform ideas and practices regarding marriage and divorced.

Demographic Info: Female, 75, lay Catholic, divorced                                #313

1) What constitutes a family: For myself it is a marriage between a man and woman consecrated by God. I also have a family community through my church and friends as support.

2) Church supports or hinders: In my own personal life, because of my divorce, I have not been able to be granted an annulment. I am in the process for a 2nd time to receive an annulment. I have felt like a second class Catholic. I consider that my marriage became sacrilegious and that I deserve an annulment. I have not been healed by my church.

3) Other issues: Many in my family are not practicing any form of Christianity. I think it is because of the Church’s sexual teaching, especially those regarding contraception and cohabitation.

4) Effect on relationship to Church: I will always be Catholic, but my respect for canon law is very low.

5) Message to bishops: Canon law was created and it can be changed.

 

 

Featured Items

Join us on December 12 for the Council of the Baptized Open Forum.      Change of topic!

What questions were raised for us by Massimo Faggioli's talk on Dec. 2 at Frances Cabrini?

What questions were raised for us by the Archdiocesan Symposium on Dec. 11?  Where do we go with these questions? 

7-8:30 PM at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 700 S. Snelling, St. Paul

 

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