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Vactican’s Massive Catholic Opinion Poll Seems Almost Democratic

November 3, 2013

This story struck me today as really interesting.  Some in the Vatican are calling all this a dialogue, and for sure that is part of what is happening.  But more to the point some in the Vatican understand the Catholic Church needs to connect again with real people in real ways.

“What pastoral attention can be given to people who have chosen to live in same-sex unions?”

That is just one of 39 questions that will shortly be put to Catholics all around the world as the Vatican conducts an unprecedented universal poll among bishops, priests and lay faithful.

Same-sex marriage, divorce, contraception and gay adoption are just some of the wide-ranging social issues that feature on a survey which will be administered by the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops.

Given that the synod is as close as the Holy See gets to a parliament, it might seem that democracy is about to hit the Holy See. In reality, the questionnaire is more an expression of Pope Francis’s desire for a collegiate church of consultation and dialogue.

Last month, the secretary general of the Synod, Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, sent a letter, “preparatory document” and questionnaire to the presidents of all the Catholic bishops’ conferences, pointing out that Pope Francis had decided to convene two synods, in October 2014 and in October 2015. The theme of the synods will be “pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelisation”.

The included questionnaire is by way of preparation for this, with Archbishop Baldiserri saying in his letter: “I would be most grateful if your Eminence [head of the conference] would distribute the ‘document’ to the dioceses, and ask them to share it immediately as widely as possible to deaneries and parishes so that input from local sources can be received regarding the themes and responses to the questionnaire, as well as any helpful statistics.”

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