Catholics pick and choose which of their church's tenets to follow, according to surveys in Germany and Switzerland. Though respondents considered their religion to be important to them, they also thought some of its tenets -- particularly regarding sex before marriage, birth control, homosexuality and divorce -- were "unrealistic" and "virtually never accepted."
The survey was commissioned by Pope Francis and sent to bishops worldwide with the request to share it with as many parishes as possible to get the most accurate sense of how churchgoers feel. While some bishops have chosen not to make results public -- Philadelphia's archdiocese, for example, will not, according to the AP -- Germany and Switzerland readily posted theirs today.
According to the German survey, between 90 and 100 percent of couples live together before marriage, and about a third of marriages end in divorce. While marriage for same sex couples was "largely rejected," civil unions was seen as a "commandment of justice." As for birth control, "prohibition of [artificial means] is rejected by the great majority of Catholics as incomprehensible, and is not adhered to in practice." It is also not seen as sinful.
The Swiss survey results were similar: 90 percent thought marriages between divorced people should be blessed; 75 percent were in favor of pre-marital co-habitation, 70 percent preferred artificial birth control and 60 percent said the church should recognize and bless same sex marriages.
Though the results show that Catholics disagree with some of the church's teachings and live their lives according to what they think is best, it doesn't mean the Pope -- who has said the church focuses too much on some of these issues -- will turn around and change the rules to be more in step with his congregants. The survey will be used to inform an October synod about "the pastoral challenges for the family in the context of evangelization." And based on the survey, it won't matter what the Pope says -- his congregants will make their own interpretations anyway.