News / Europe

Vatican Asks Catholics for Input on Family

FILE - Pope Francis waves as he arrives to lead his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican.
FILE - Pope Francis waves as he arrives to lead his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican.
VOA News
The Vatican has taken a highly unusual step in asking bishops around the world to find out what Roman Catholics think about church teachings in some areas that have become controversial, including birth control, divorce, and same-sex marriage.

Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary-general of the Vatican's Synod of Bishops, sent out the survey October 18, asking bishops to reach out "immediately as widely as possible to deaneries and parishes so the input from local sources can be received." Baldisseri asked for results by the end of January.

The Vatican document said there are "many new situations requiring the Church's attention," including same-sex union adoptions, polygamy, mixed or inter-religious marriage, an increase in the practice of surrogate motherhood, and "forms of feminism hostile to the Church."

It is not clear how U.S. Catholic bishops will respond to the directive. The general-secretary of the U.S. bishops conference, Monsignor Ronny Jenkins, in an October 30 letter to American bishops, asked only for "observations of the members of the conference" and not the opinions of ordinary Catholics.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. bishops conference, Helen Osman, said in an email Thursday each U.S. bishop will "determine what would be the most useful way of gathering information to provide to Rome."

The Bishops Conference of England and Wales has posted a survey online that Catholics in their countries can use to respond to the questions.

Included among the questions are "how is God's mercy proclaimed" to separated, divorced and remarried couples and how churches can respond when gays seek a religious education or Holy communion for their children.

The online National Catholic Reporter was the first to report news of the survey Thursday, providing links to Baldisseri's letter, as well as a letter from the U.S. bishops conference.

The National Catholic Reporter said the poll is the first time the church's central hierarchy has asked for input from "grass-roots Catholics" since at least the establishment of the synod system following the Second Vatican Council.

The results of the world-wide survey will be discussed at a Vatican synod, or meeting, on the family in October 2014, presided over by Pope Francis. A second synod on the family will be held in 2015.

Pope Francis has denounced what he called the "Vatican-centric" nature of the church's administration. He said that many inside the Vatican had looked only after Vatican interests, neglecting, in his words, "the world around us."

Pope Francis said last month too many previous popes have been "narcissists, flattered and thrilled by the courtiers" inside the Vatican. The pontiff said the church must "restore hope to young people, help the old, be open to the future, spread love."

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by: John Sweet from: USA
November 02, 2013 11:44 AM
Once again this Pope is sowing confusion among the people. He should be very clear about WHY he wants to know what people think about these issues. If I were pope I would want to know the truth about the damage that has been done to Catholics around the world by incompetent bishops and their total lack of leadership and education of the faithful. OF COURSE people are going to say, "We love contraception; we think 'gay marriage' is wonderful; we want women priests." etc etc. The Church is not a democracy. The pope is Vicar of Christ. To ask for people's opinions implies that you will listen to them and act on them. The only appropriate way to respond to people who are heretics, apostates, or wolves in sheep's clothing (most 'sisters') is to correct their error. I'm getting tired of 'explaining' this pope! He needs to wise up about how is words and actions are interpreted by a world that hates the Catholic Church.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
November 01, 2013 12:38 PM
I bet the Vatican, the college of cardinals must have shortchanged the church in choosing this man. It seems he forgets what the mission of the bishop of Rome should be. He seems to be ruling from the standpoint of a national and/or international assembly for law making that decides based on the popularity or opinions should do. He should know that the Church and the secular world are two different things operating from two different angles/dimensions.

The world changes, but God (represented by the Church) conserves. The Church should correct errors and not to be swayed or dragged along by errors. Saying bishops should find out what is popular opinion rather than teach people what is desirable seems to be wrong direction. It's not long since the Church of of Nigeria separated from the Church of England based on disagreement on similar matters. Maybe because other countries did not follow the Nigerian example and break away, Francis wants to try same in the Catholic Church. He will be surprised by the result if he dares it; because every eye is on the Catholic Church not any other one. But we can wait and see.

by: Bassam Hussein from: UK
November 01, 2013 9:15 AM
doubts are beginning to creep about this guy's mental competency...
In Response

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
November 01, 2013 12:24 PM
Don't know whether to agree with you or not. But this man seems to thrive in enigmas and confusion about what his mission is. What is the source of his legislation - God or man?

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