These were some suggestions offered by Catholics who took part in an online survey conducted by the Archdiocesan Commission for the Family (ACF) in February.
The survey sought feedback from priests, Religious, laypeople and organisations involved in the pastoral care of the family to questions raised by the world’s bishops for a meeting on the family in October.
The theme for the Synod of Bishops’ meeting in Rome is The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World.
About 400 Catholics in Singapore responded to the survey whose questions were generated from a meeting which the bishops had in Rome last year.
The questionnaire covered areas such as:
- Guidance of couples preparing for marriage, and accompanying couples in their early years of marriage.
- Pastoral care for couples in civil marriages or living together.
- Care for those separated from their spouses, or who are divorced and have not remarried.
- Single-parent families.
- The transmission of life and the challenges of declining birth rates.
- Pastoral care for people with same-sex attraction.
Many believe that formation on marriage and the family, especially its sacramental dimension, should start from early childhood and continue in a gradual, systematic and sustained way through life.
Respondents also cited the low-take-up rate of post-marriage courses as a cause for concern, and added that there are gaps in family formation, like how to address challenges in inter-faith marriages.
Respondents also called for more pastoral care for single parents and those struggling with same-sex attraction.
They said there is a need to focus on education and on understanding that same-sex tendencies exist for a variety of reasons, and that the Church should respond sensitively towards these individuals.
Also highlighted was the need for greater promotion of Church teaching on family life, the sanctity of life and St John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, which highlights the beauty of God’s plan for sexual love, and the joy of living out this plan.
Respondents also noted that parents should be aware that they need to lead lives that are worthy of emulation by their children.
According to ACF, steps will have to be made to offer programmes and initiatives to inspire engaged couples and young couples to live the marriage sacrament.
The survey responses have been compiled and submitted to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei ahead of the bishops’ meeting in Rome in October.