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Document Details :
Title: On Consulting the Laity in Matters of Morals
Subtitle: Reflections from England, Wales and Scotland
Author(s): HAWKSLEY, Theodora
Journal: Marriage, Families & Spirituality
Volume: 20 Issue: 1 Date: 2014
This article discusses the consultation process for the Extraordinary Synod on Marriage and Family Life in England, Wales and Scotland. After summarising the different methods of consultation undertaken by the respective Bishops' Conferences and by some individual dioceses, the article goes on to explore the reaction to the consultation process in the UK Catholic media and among laypeople. Media reactions to the consultation process and the significance of consulting laypeople tended to reflect existing conservative or liberal outlooks, with conservative commentators playing down the significance of the consultation and stating that there would be no substantive changes to Church teaching, and liberal commentators seeing the consultation as a sign of hope and change ahead. Laypeople tended to react positively to the consultation in spite of difficulties with its technical language. In the final part of the article, the author suggest some practical ways in which Bishops' Conferences, dioceses and parishes might use the consultation process and the eventual outcome of the synod as an opportunity to forge a more constructive and fruitful relationship between laypeople and magisterial authority.