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Survey for the Synod on the Family is available here

Take the Survey Now

In preparation for the Extraordinary Synod on the Family to be held 5th – 19th October 2014, the Vatican has asked national bishops’ conferences around the world to seek the opinions of Catholics on a number of church teachings including contraception, same-sex marriage and divorce.
Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops, asked the bishops’ conferences to commence a survey “immediately as widely as possible to deaneries and parishes so that input from local sources can be received.”
We are aware that the Vatican document is difficult to complete, so we are presenting here a version that is as close as we can make it to the original, but is such that we believe will made this canvass of views more readily available to a greater number. We suggest that you fill it in either as individuals or as groups. The important thing is that it represents the lived experience of as many people, single, couples, families, in our Church.
We acknowledge the help of our friends in the reform movement in the United States in the preparation of this survey.
We will need your responses by December 15th at the latest.
Please take the survey and encourage others to do likewise.

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  1. Carol Dorgan says:

    Thank you for offering this survey here. I had doubted that “ordinary Catholics” and anyone not Bishop would have the possibility of doing so, even though I had access to it from other websites (not in Ireland!)
    I gather that the questions are very complex, but, as someone remarked in the Tablet recently, it is a “first” from the Vatican, and I imagine that if lots of people respond seriously, it would encourage the said Vatican to not make this a once-off occasion, but see something similar as a wonderful way of world-wide consultation.

  2. Joe O'Leary says:

    The grammatical error in question 6 is only one of the signs of sloppiness in this questionnaire. I also find lots of typos on the Vatican website. Well, what can one expect from the perpetrators of the New Translation?

  3. Shaun the Sheep says:

    In paragraph 2676 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on http://www.vatican.va, there is a full stop after ‘Abraham’ when there should be a comma. I have yet to check the printed version.

  4. Richard Neumann says:

    In addition to the questionaire being difficult for “ordinary Catholics” to answer, it is woefully incomplete. Families continue to exist after child bearing age and the whole question of aging on family dynamics is absent. I see the questionaire as ill-conceived and written by amateurs who know nothing of true family life.

  5. Clare Hannigan says:

    The questionnaire allows for other matters to be raised. The very painful issue of infertility is not mentioned in the survey. A question on how the church supports families who care for disabled and elderly family members could also be included. Also a question asking why young people are rejecting the faith in such large numbers ought to be considered. Seeing children turn their back on the faith into which they were baptized can be a painful experience for parents. It may not simply be down to parents failing in their responsibilities. Most children in Ireland are educated in Catholic schools. The issue of how the church responds to abusive relationships within the family is another area of concern.

  6. Teresa Mee says:

    The survey on the Family is starting from the wrong place – doctrines propounded by the celibate male hierarchy.
    The obvious place to start would be from the lived and living experiences of married couples and families today.
    Paramount would be the successes and hindrances families experience and learn from in promoting a relationship of love and respect between husband and wife, parents and children, and among the children, all so essential to the well being of family life.
    The experience of marriage breakdown despite all informed efforts to hold it together would be included under the heading of professional/pastoral/community care.
    Another major concern of Parents’is protection of their children on so many fronts – from abuse by peer group including bullying on the ground as on the internet;protecting children from sexual and other abuse by peers and adults; educating their children in their faith in God, in love and respect for self and for other people; enabling their children face up to the challenges of adolescent development; helping them reach meaningful moral decisions and act from moral conviction rather than from fear of consequences or observance of doctrines. God is within us,prompting us to make the right decisions not outside issuing laws, with list of censures in hand.
    I would have no confidence in what the bishops as an isolated group would come up with, especially in view of the perspective reflected in the Scripture ref’s in the Vat Preparatory Document.
    See ref’s: Colossians 3,18-4,1 ‘Slaves obey your earthly masters…wives be subject to your husbands……’
    Ephesians 5,22-27 and 33.’ Wives be subject to your husbands..for the husband is the head of the wife…..’
    1 Timothy 2,9-15.’ Women keep silence in the assemblies with all submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or dominate a man….’
    Instead of trying to respond to questions on Natural Law, on statistics of civil unions, on Humanae Vitae and so on, I think I’ll try to get together with a few people and submit a response
    starting from our present reality.
    Now that I’ve finally found my way on to the ACI Blog, the opportunities are increasing.
    Hopefully other people will come up with better proposals for a course of effective action.

  7. Eddie Finnegan says:

    Having struggled to make some sort of fist at responding to some of the latest Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion (RC Westminster & Universe Version)I have to say that Archbishop Vincent Nichols and his people on this side of the water have made at least a minor effort at promulgating and mediating Archbishop Baldisseri’s document. But, as Brendan Butler’s Rite & Reason piece asked on Tuesday: “Why are our (Irish)bishops ignoring the Pope’s wishes?” My response to that, which the Irish Times have seen no rhyme or reason to publish, follows:
    “Sir – Brendan Butler (Rite & Reason, November 26) wonders about the seemingly silent indifference of the Irish Catholic bishops to an unprecedented Vatican survey on the family, a subject on which some practising layfolk might be expected to have closer hands-on expertise than most practising celibates.
    “Are they leaving it all to us? Or is this a Holmesian three-pipe mystery tale of the dog that forgot how to bark or even whimper, day or night? Surely, if the bishops really believed in Vatican Council principles of conciliar/synodal collegiality or even local subsidiarity, here is yet another chance for them to exercise those principles transparently, audibly, usefully.
    “Brendan Butler may not be old enough to have been at the Pro-Cathedral for the thanksgiving service for the Council, forty-eight years ago come December 9th. It may indeed have been more an archiepiscopal sigh of relieved thanksgiving that the interminable council had finally been wound up or down. Brendan will, however, be familiar with +John Charles McQuaid’s reassuring words to his obedient flock: ‘You may, in the last four years, have been disturbed by reports about the Council . . . You may have been worried by talk of changes to come. Allow me to reassure you. No change will worry the tranquility of your Christian lives.’
    “So why should mere layfolk now disturb that half-century’s tranquility by imagining that the Vatican’s consultative box-ticking routines are really meant for them? Chillax, Brendan! We may not be experts on Natural Law but, by the normal laws of nature, Pope Bergoglio can’t be around for all that much longer. The calm of normal encyclical routines will soon follow, as the night the day.
    Yours etc – EF”

  8. Eddie Finnegan says:

    Following Mary O Vallely’s more hopeful news from Armagh on another thread, “Pastoral Armagh”‘s response to Brendan Butler in this morning’s Irish Times Letters looks as if they have a serious approach to Francis and the Family Survey. Does this Armagh swallow make an Irish summer as we face into winter? While Armagh (Cathedral Parish) now has an elected Pastoral Council (thanks for that news, Mary!) the same cannot be said yet about most of the nominal pastoral councils across the Archdiocese. Still, if even a few of the old dependables in every parish in the country put in their tuppenceworth, the bishops would have something real for their Synod interventions. I’m assuming that the Episcopal Conference will be represented by one or two of them. I still recall that the October 1987 Synod on the Laity heard that stirring call from Tomás Ó Fiaich about taking feminism seriously in arousing the sleeping giant of the laity. Not his own sentiments only: I am sure he had Pobal Dé’s excellent paper from May 1987 (based, I think, on their response to the Synodal ‘lineamenta’) lodged in his back pocket. Despite my earlier doubts about the man, could Armagh’s Coadjutor Archbishop Eamonn Martin be the man to take up the cudgels again after more than a quarter-century?

  9. Eddie Finnegan@8, should note what Mary O V. noted:
    “These two sessions, I note, will be facilitated, not by our diocesan clergy, but by someone from the Armagh Diocesan Justice Commission, a lay person and a local Jesuit who lives and works in the community here.”
    So, the Diocesan clergy permitted the use of their hall, which as facilitation goes may seem to be a bit lukewarm. I`m just speculating, as one is forced to do given the conspicuous lack of energy in their handling of the survey, but maybe there is a collective huff going on among our bishops, in the wake of their treatment at the hands of the Vatican on the abuse scandal?

  10. In completing the survey, I am struck by the incredible length of it. Having said that, I would like to see a credible survey about Church Governance and the Role of Women. I am also stunned by the Pollyanna understanding that the magisterium and the congregations have about marriage. Who is to say that in every single so called sacramental marriage that people are truly living sacramentally? I suspect a large percentage of people who are supposedly in sacramental marriages are really only cohabitating and maybe not cohabitating in a healthy way either. The survey reveals what the magisterium is concerned about…one of their most pressing issues is what to do about same-sex catholics who want to be given sacramental marriages…The Catholic Church would have to consider these unions as ordered and worthy of the blessing of God and the Church…making them sacramental…So, theologians…your work would be to rework the theology of the sacrament of marriage..but, that would mean reworking some other theology…Oh, my…quite the complexity…

  11. Catherine Roberts says:

    I have just completed the survey, as in England and Wales it had to be done by November 30th. So many people seemed interested in how I approached the questions and what I had to say, that instead of collecting dozens of email addresses, I decided to put it in a blog.
    You can read it here as I add to it each day if anyone wants to: http://kittymaxwellroberts.wordpress.com/
    It’s not quite my own name as wordpress already has enough of us. The Kitty Maxwell I am named after was from Collon in Ardee — I’m afraid I have a bias towards Celtic Christianity, not through genetics, but through rational thought.

  12. Eddie Finnegan says:

    mjt@9. Indeed, mjt, you are probably right. The letter in this morning’s Irish Times from Gerard Burns, “one of the so-called faithful” of Armagh, pours a big bucket of icy water over Official Pastoral Armagh’s response on Saturday to Brendan Butler’s earlier cold wet sponge treatment of episcopal indifference to “the Pope’s Survey”. With only one week to the deadline, Gerard Burns heard no mention of the Family Survey at Saturday evening Mass in Armagh Cathedral. I have looked in vain for any mention of it on the parish website or weekly newsletter of my old parish in South Armagh. So really what are those Diocesan Pastoralists at the Magnet in Dundalk talking about? Or is nobody listening to them?

  13. Mary O Vallely says:

    Well, it was mentioned at the noon mass in St Malachy’s church in Armagh on the Sunday, Eddie, but I take your point. I know that both Tony Hanna and Fr Gerry Campbell from the Dundalk based Pastoral centre are pushing it but that perhaps not all the ordained in the diocese are. To be honest, not all the non-ordained will take the trouble to answer it either or attend either of the two meetings to discuss it. The reasons can vary from deep-rooted cynicism or complete apathy to a lack of confidence in engaging at all. How many of us have ever been consulted or feel that our views are worth hearing? It could be that or just that people have enough troubles in their lives to worry about. I believe that we need to look at long term solutions to build up confidence by providing opportunities for people to explore and learn about faith issues. Armagh diocese is attempting to do this and it is a positive start. I have the greatest respect for their efforts as obstacles, there are many.
    Mary V, Armagh loyalist.

  14. The kind of issues raised in Clare’s comment @5 and Teresa’s comment @6 prompts another question. Have women been involved in formulating the questions in the survey? Given that each member of a family is conceived, carried and given birth to by a woman surely it is crucial that women are involved in putting together a survey on the family? Has the Church any idea of the emotional and psychological trauma of trying to adhere to the teaching in Humanae Vitae? For me it was either Humanae Vitae or my marraige, I chose my marriage. To answer the questions I would have to revisit the emotional and psychological stress of putting myself outside the Church because I followed my conscience…so I will not be engaging with the survey.

  15. Roisin Alexander Pye says:

    Am I right in understanding then that the Irish bishops are not interested in surveying / gathering the results of this survey? Is the only way to participate in the Irish context via this survey here? (apart from the Vatican site)
    Just trying to clarify. Thanks

  16. Eddie Finnegan says:

    Mary, I salute the Armagh Loyalist in you! You’ll be out papal fleg waving, I suppose? Just make sure it’s not the Argie fleg in some areas.
    I guess the dichotomy between the forthright position taken by Tony Hanna & Fr Gerry Campbell (in response to Brendan Butler in the Irish Times) and the lack of evidence on the ground in the parishes corresponds to the similar gap apparent between those same parishes and all the genuine pastoral planning and pastoral area plotting that happened in Armagh (Central) since about 2005. The parishes or parish clusters were nominally represented by one or two reliable folk from each unelected parish council – while everyone else got on with their lives or their prayers in splendid ignorance of all those meetings in Dundalk, Armagh, Dungannon, Ballygawley or wherever.
    And talking of Ballygawley, which you mentioned to me weeks ago – no, I never heard whether that stage coach postilion or courier made his way back from the wilds of Tyrone to report on an alleged ACP meeting there sometime in the last century but one. He may have been hijacked.

  17. Teresa Mee says:

    Catherine, for me, you have put the Survey on Family in context, which is, in its widest and deepest sense, an integral part of the plan of God from the beginning, before the emergence of priesthood or religions.
    The Survey, presumably prepared by men, could well represent the first stage in an all male council addressing the commitments, experiences, sorrows, joys, anxieties and challenges of marriage and family life.
    Unlike priesthood, marriage and family have been there throughout the ages of human spirituality that preceded religion. So, picking up Nuala O’Driscoll’s question,’Have women been involved in formulating the questions in the survey?’I want to add another.
    Will women be ‘on the board’ taking this study of Family through all of its phases right to the preparation of the final document, or is it just to be man’s affair?

  18. It is time that this is brought to the fore. It seems very wrong that single catholic people are ‘persecuted’ if they marry a divorced person and therefore prevented from receiving Holy Communion. An annulment is required by the divorced person but it is like bolting the door when the horse has bolted. It amounts to nothing more than encouraging a person to lie in order to obtain an annulment. Punishing the innocent party is cruel and a bullying tactic by the Catholic Church. I pray that Pope Francis will eliminate this ruling as soon as possible so that our children may feel a welcome again in the Catholic Church and bring their children up in a loving Christian environment.

  19. Joe O'Leary says:

    “It was either Humanae Vitae or my marriage” — which suggests that the encyclical and the clergy who preached it or failed to resist it were destroying marriages.
    Has Pope Francis mentioned contraception?

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