The Vatican recently put out a list of questions that they wanted to hear answers about from Catholics, that can be seen here. Our Bishop sent a letter home from mass in the New Year asking us to respond to him. Here is my response that I sent to him:
I am a young Catholic woman who is twenty-five years old and is working at St. Patrick High School. I attend mass regularly and am devout in my faith. I would like to share my thoughts about how I believe that young people feel about the Church’s teachings.
1. The Diffusion of the Teachings on the Family in Sacred Scripture and the Church’s Magisterium
I would say that both within and outside of the church, teachings about homosexuality, divorce, and pre-marital intimacy are ignored or criticized. Generally speaking, young people, whether they’re Catholic or not, tend to have a “live and let live” approach to life. By this, I mean that most of us believe that if someone is not harming anyone by their actions then it is not for us to judge. I believe (and I think that many agree with me) that LGBTQ people have a right to look for love, that people who are unhappily married should separate if it’s what it takes to be happy, and that people should get to know each other very well before taking a step like getting married. All three of these things are widely accepted in our modern society, and people see the Church as being overly conservative and traditional, and unable to move forward with the times.
4. Pastoral Care in Certain Difficult Marital Situations
There are many people living in healthy and happy relationships that are not recognized by the church, including homosexual couples, heterosexual couples who don’t want to be married, re-married couples, and other non-traditional relationships like polyamorous groups. I don’t think that most people in these relationships feel marginalized or suffer, although they might if they were among particularly traditional people. I think most people are accepting of others. I think the Church should be welcoming and kind to everyone, and should allow people to divorce. Gay couples who have children are just like any other couples, and their children should be treated like any other children. We should avoid using heteronormative language (instead of “How are your mom and dad?” say “How are your parents?”, etc), and we should avoid saying outdated things about gender roles (something I still hear at mass fairly often—things like “Women take care of the house” or “Men protect their families,” etc).
7. The Openness of the Married Couple to Life
I think that most people think that the Church’s stance on contraception is outdated. It seems rational to most people that those who aren’t ready to have a child, shouldn’t have one, and so contraception should be used to make sure that when they have a child they’ll be able to take care of it.
If we want people to be more open to having children, we need to show young people that if they have children there will be support available to them. Right now too much pressure is put on women who have children, and if they think they’re going to have to do it alone they won’t want to. These young women need to know that they will have support: emotionally, physically, and monetarily.