19/03/2014 10:59 GMT

Catholics Having Sex, Getting Divorced And Using Contraception Is A Reality 'Beyond Dispute', Say Bishops

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Catholics have sex before marriage, use contraception and get divorced, but do feel guilty, according to a new survey

Catholics have sex before marriage, use contraception and get divorced, and the Church needs to confront that reality, a new Vatican study has shown.

Bishops have said they will acknowledge that Church doctrine on marriage, sex and family is disconnected from the reality of life for most Catholics, after a Vatican survey of Irish Catholics showed respondents had “particular difficulties” with those teachings.

The Irish Bishops Conference said that bans on extra-marital sex and cohabitation, or remarrying after divorce, are not seen as “realistic, compassionate or life-enhancing”.

On the contrary, it left those who chose to live with partners before marriage, or get remarried after a relationship breaks down, feeling “guilty and excluded".

The Association of Catholic Bishops said it was “now beyond dispute” that there was a serious gap or disconnect between the real lives of Catholics and church teachings, Tablet reported.

The Irish bishops said they would consider to teach the church's position on marriage, sex and divorce, but more compassion needed to be shown to those who found the teachings difficult to reconcile with reality.

The decision to publish the result of the survey was a u-turn for the bishops, who had come in for sharp criticism after announcing the report would be kept confidential, and this week reversed their decision.

The last survey of this nature, in 2012 survey showed that three out of four Irish Catholics find the church's teaching on sexuality "irrelevant", according to the National Catholic Register.