The Vatican just released a survey asking for parish-level input on next year’s Synod on Faith and Family.
The questionnaire has been sent to all Catholic parishes; England has already set up a website where Catholics can complete the form. It is 38 questions long and includes a preamble detailing the Church’s official position on each subject. The reader is meant to answer the questions according to how they understand and live the teachings.
Despite what most “news” sites are claiming, Pope Francis’ questionnaire is not the following:
- an attempt to water down Church teaching
- an attempt to restructure the Church into a democracy
- an attempt to create a Church “for, by, and of” the people
- a poll asking Catholics’ opinions on “gay sex and contraception”
Here is what the questionnaire is.
It is a survey sent to all bishops and parishes, designed to ascertain how Catholics understand and view Catholic doctrine. In most countries, parishioners are being asked to respond. In the US, bishops only are being asked to complete the survey (here is a link to the US version of the Vatican document).
It is an attempt to discover what people actually believe, compared to what the Church teaches.
It is an attempt to determine where most Catholics fall out of line—not so the Church can meet them halfway, but to correct errors and prevent this from happening. The goal is to bring Catholics back into the fold, not to lower the bar to the point where it is already met.
It is not a sign that Pope Francis is preparing to change Church teaching. It is not a census to determine which teachings to keep and which to discard. The Vatican is not asking a billion Catholics to vote about what we should believe in.
The Church is not a democracy. Pope Francis is not—not—saying it is.
What Pope Francis is doing is putting his finger on the pulse of the laity. For this reason, it is important we respond completely truthfully. The Church is a wealth of tradition, teaching, beliefs, doctrines, and dogmas—and as most of us are not learned theologians, there are probably a few things we don’t understand.
Pope Francis is asking us to express our perceptions. He is not asking us for input on what we think the Church should do to “get with the times.” He is trying to figure out why there is such a divide between canon and conduct, between law and living. He wants to better direct us toward the Truth.
NOTE: Catholic Insight will be posting the survey to garner results from clergy and laity alike. As our Editor David Beresford said: “If we want input, we must do it ourselves.
Find the Vatican document here.
Read the CCCB comment here.
The bishops of England and Wales have posted the survey here.
Photo credit: presidencia.gov.ar.