Roman Catholics all over the world are being asked to answer a questionnaire in order to help the church deal with what it calls a social and spiritual crisis that exists, especially in regard to marriage and the family. While some parts of the country are asking clergy to answer questions, the Syracuse Diocese wants the opinion of every day parishioners.
The document from Pope Francis that lays the groundwork for this questionnaire has been distilled by the Syracuse Diocese, into nine questions that touch on some of the most controversial topics in the church today; divorce, same sex marriage and contraception. It also asks if the laity understands church teachings. Diocesan spokeswoman Danielle Cummings admits the questions won’t be easy.
"Very, very heavy questions, if you will," Cummings said. "Questions that are not easily answered. They ask you to have an understanding to what the church's teaching is. What does our catechism say, and then to offer your insights. And I think this is groundbreaking for the church to offer this kind of questionnaire.”
Cummings says it’s important for Pope Francis to get feedback from everyday people, on many of the issues that are divisive in the church.
“He’s trying to get an idea of what exactly are we talking about now, in modern times," Cummings said. "What are the challenges to our families, and then ask the Synod of Bishops to look at the questions that have been offered to people, to look at their responses, and hopefully come up with a document that is going to offer some pastoral responses to all those challenges.”
Questionnaires have been passed out by some parishes, and the diocese is also hoping people go to the Syracuse Diocese website to fill it out. The information will be used next year during an extraordinary meeting of bishops in order to determine the challenges families face in the world today.
Cummings says so far there have been a good mix of responses.
"I think there are a number of people in the community in the Catholic Church of the Diocese of Syracuse thrilled to be asked for their opinion, and what their understanding is," Cummings said. "That’s a start.”
So far, the only complaints she’s heard are from people wanting more time to answer the questions. The diocese has to put together responses and send them to the Vatican by the end of the month.
The survey deadline is midnight tonight.