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Oliver Tomkins

Members of the Roman Catholic Church are calling it 'controlling' and 'misogynistic' as well as stating that the church discriminates against gay people and those who have been through a divorce.

These complaints are the results of a survey given out by bishops in December of last year, asking questions like 'In what way, through the abiding presence of God, is your family "salt of the earth and light to the world?"' and 'How does your family life enrich those around you?'

The responses have been collected ahead of the special Synod of Bishops, called by the Pope Francis to discuss family, seemingly in an attempt to address concerns about outdated traditions, and to instead focus on an ideology of mercy and forgiveness.

While many responses did state that family life was a 'blessing', a large number of them talk of being trapped in an unhappy marriage, with people focusing on children, the effect that being in a family with unhappily married parents has on them and the difficulty parents have with passing on their faith, especially when the children view Catholicism as 'outdated' and 'misogynistic'.

When asked about handing down beliefs, one person said 'We are ashamed of our faith - so misogynistic, controlling, self-opinionated.'

Another wrote 'I believe it is important for our bishops to know that marriage is not always a "gift" and that Church teaching on marriage has led to untold misery for many couples and has had lifelong, detrimental impact on the mental, physical and spiritual health of their children.'

Many people made clear that they opposed the Church's refusal of Communion to those who have been divorced or remarried. One person asking 'How can it be right for divorced and remarried people to be refused Communion?'

They continued, criticising the church for its stance on contraception, 'How can it be right for people living with HIV/Aids not to use condoms?'

One diocese concluded 'There was a general consensus of the Church being pharisaical in its response to who can and cannot receive the blessed sacrament.