Difficult to understand language, theological terms – with these words, several dioceses criticize the Vatican's questionnaire in preparation for the second Synod on the Family. our site has spoken with Dr. Michael Dornemann from the Diocese of Essen spoke.
Interviewer: Mr. Dornemann, you have analyzed the questionnaire and the participation of the faithful in it. First of all, the questionnaire itself. What is your concrete criticism?
Dr. Michael Dornemann (Head of the Pastoral Department in the Diocese of Essen): The questionnaire is very different from the one that was sent out in preparation for the first Synod on the Family. This time the results of the last synod have been included in the questionnaire. Therefore, the questionnaire no longer openly asks about family situations, but rather anticipates theological results and canonical language formulations. This makes the language style difficult to understand and the questions very complex – partly with explicit theological terms. This has made it difficult for many to answer the questions. Some believers therefore suspected that a broad survey was not really what was wanted.
Interviewer: That is, people actually thought: the Vatican doesn't really want to hear us at all. He asks such complicated questions that we cannot answer at all.
Dr. Michael Dornemann: At least that became clear from some of the answers we received. And also in the official statement from the Priests' Council, the Religious Council and the Diocesan Council it is expressed that many said: We partly had to put a dictionary of foreign words next to it in order to even understand what was meant. This has deterred many of the faithful and prevented them from responding.
Interviewer: That means that also in Essen there was a rather reserved participation in the questionnaire?
Dr. Michael Dornemann: Yes, and I hear that now also from other dioceses. The Essen number from ca. 14 individual responses – in addition to the official response from the Diocesan Council, the Priests' Council and the Religious Council – lies in the measure of the other dioceses. They all register a low participation. In Mainz, for example, 21 people took part.
Interviewer: Can you give an example of complex formulations that you criticize??
Dr. Michael Dornemann: It asks about "powerlessness in the face of socio-economic reality". Of course, we know what is meant by this. In terms of content, this is also a justified concern. Families face many challenges: How to get family and work life together? Is the salary enough to feed a family?? That is, there are very practical questions behind this formulation. And, of course, many ask themselves: Why is it necessary to use such complex wording to describe such simple backgrounds??
Interviewer: Let us look at the contents. For example, people would like to see a more merciful approach to remarried divorcees, a more modern attitude on the part of the church toward contraceptives, and blessing ceremonies for homosexual couples. All this was already said about the first family synod. How realistic do you think it is that these topics will have a better chance of being heard at the second Synod on the Family in October?.
Dr. Michael Dornemann: I think that this will be very difficult in the fall. The questionnaire and the answers we have now received make it clear what difficulties the bishops are now facing. The answers clearly show that many Catholics consider the Christian understanding of marriage as indissolubility and fidelity to be important. They also make it clear that it must be different from same-sex couples living together. But everyone also says very clearly: It cannot be that the church acts in a discriminatory and exclusionary way towards homosexuals. So there is a demand for church symbolic acts, blessings or also further creative ideas, so that homosexuals are strengthened in their living together. Many responses make it clear that the church should not act from above, especially in this area.
The interview was conducted by Hilde Regeniter.