LONDON, March 18, 2014 ( – Two Catholic bishops in the UK have expressed hope that the upcoming Extraordinary Synod on the Family, to be held in Rome in October, will bring about massive changes to the Church’s approach to marriage and human sexuality.

Bishop Terence Drainey of Middleborough told the far-left magazine The Tablet that he is hoping for and expecting a “radical re-examination of human sexuality.”

Drainey told The Tablet that this “re-examination” should be made “in light of modern psychological and anthropological insights and the lived experience of lay people.” This, he said, “could lead to development in church teaching on all aspects of marriage and family life: contraception, homosexuality, divorce and remarriage, cohabitation; even the position of women in the Church.”


“The Church has to hold in tension its imperative to proclaim the high Christian ideals to which all should aspire with its desire at the same time to welcome with love and compassion those whose lives are complicated and messy,” the bishop said.

“A careful discussion of this dichotomy could yield pastoral solutions in the areas of family life where many are struggling, enabling the Church more readily to welcome and include these people,” Drainey said.

Bishop Drainey said the issues to be addressed by the Synod and brought up in a Vatican questionnaire are “multifaceted and complex” to which there are no “simple soundbite answers.”

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Drainey added that he believed Pope Francis “has completed his first year with flying colours” and has “proved himself to be a great communicator of the central message of the Gospel.”

At the same time, another English bishop has criticized the decision of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales not to publish the results of a survey, issued by the Vatican on the attitudes of the faithful to Catholic teaching on the family and sexuality.

Bishop Tom Burns of Menevia said in the same Tablet piece that the Church should not be afraid of the results. “Publish and be delighted!” Burns wrote.

The survey, which for the first time was issued to the laity and the general public, is part of the normal process used by Vatican departments to prepare for events like the Synod. Normally such questionnaires are intended only for bishops and others with theological competence. The survey in some European countries has found that among the laity there is almost no knowledge of or adherence to Catholic teaching on sexuality and marriage.

Bishop Burns said, “The sound of windows and doors being thrown open in Vatican City has been deafening – 50 years after Vatican II. Francis is plainly embracing collegiality and the principle of subsidiarity.”

Burns complained that the survey “was constructed in such an obfuscating manner that it could have been a deliberate ruse to deter responses and halt the roaring train.”

“[Respondents] have a right to know the strength of uniformity in what they said. The views belong to the people who made them. It’s called transparency. Let’s be among the first to re-build the Church – with good marriages, good families – and good re-marriages too!”