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Churchgoers surveyed Catholics voice pragmatic attitudes about sex

Try before you buy? Those surveyed said living together before marriage was a good idea


Most Swiss Catholics are in favour of birth control and living together before marriage, according to a survey commissioned by the Swiss Catholic Bishops Conference. Nearly 24,000 people answered the questionnaire, which focused on marital and family issues.

Conducted by the Swiss Pastoral Sociological Institute (SPI) in late 2013, the survey was completed by 23,636 churchgoers. Of these, 95% lived in Switzerland, 92% were Catholic and 53% were women. Their average age was 54.

The questions, posed by Pope Francis, were designed to help the Catholic Church get a better idea of the attitudes held by its members.

Asked how they felt about having a church wedding, about 80% said it was “important” or “very important”. Nearly all said that a Christian upbringing for their children was a priority.

However, as the SPI pointed out in its report on Tuesday, being close to the Catholic Church doesn’t mean participants agree with all of its guidelines.

For example, about 75% said they were in favour of couples living together before getting married to determine their compatibility as spouses. The survey also found that about 70% preferred artificial methods of contraception to natural ones – despite the fact that the Catholic Church is opposed to birth control.

Nearly 90% said they wished the church would recognise and bless marriages between divorced people. And about 60% said that the church should also recognise and bless same-sex marriages.

Every canton was represented in the findings, with most of the people from Zurich, St Gallen and Lucerne. The survey results will help Swiss bishops prepare for October’s extraordinary general assembly in Rome focusing on pastoral challenges in relation to family issues.

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