The majority of practising French Catholics may well be in favour of allowing divorcees who have remarried to receive Communion, according to a survey commissioned by La Vie, the French Christian magazine.
At present the Church forbids anyone who has contracted a second invalid marriage to receive Communion, but 67 per cent of the French Catholics questioned said they thought the Church should change its laws.
Only 13 per cent felt that remarried divorcees should never be permitted to receive Communion, while the remaining 20 per cent said they were undecided.
The survey was carried out among 290 practising Catholics, drawn from a representative sample of 1,950 French people over the age of 15.
There seemed little concern among those questioned that a change in the law would lead to more marriage breakdowns; 67 per cent felt that allowing remarried divorcees to receive Communion would not lead to an increase in the divorce rate; 11 per cent felt that it would, while 22 per cent were undecided.
A majority of the people questioned went even further and said that they felt that divorcees should be allowed to remarry in Church: 62 per cent said they felt such people should be allowed a religious wedding, 21 per cent thought that divorce absolutely ruled out the possibility of a second church wedding, while 17 per cent said they had not made up their minds.
Because the Catholic Church teaches that marriage is indissoluble, an individual once married remains so in the eyes of God and the Church, even if they are separated or legally divorced.
The likelihood of a change in the Church's ruling is diminished by the fact that she teaches that the indissolubility of marriage is divine law rather than simply a rule imposed by the Church.
Pressure for change in the Church's treatment of divorcees has been building up in France for some time, and in 1974 Bishop Le Bourgeois of d'Autun sanctioned the use of a special prayer for divorcees who were remarrying.
Support for changes in the Church's law is strongest among the middle class (78.7 per cent), people living in towns with a population of more than 100,000
(78.7 per cent), and those aged between 25 and 30 (78.8 per cent).
Opposition, on the other hand, is strongest among women, workers and those living in rural areas.
Bishop Winter again Namibia Bishop in exile
Bishop Cohn Winter has again been re-elected as Bishop-in-exile by the Anglican Church in Namibia.
It is the third time that the Church has asked Bishop Winter, who now lives in London, to stay on as Bishop-in-exile of the Damaraland diocese since he was deported from Namibia in 1972.