Catholics throughout the Diocese of Rochester are invited to share their thoughts on pastoral challenges to marriage and family life through a survey posted on the diocesan website. Their answers eventually will be included in a report sent to the Vatican in preparation for an October 2014 extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family.
"This is a voluntary survey. This is not asking for people’s opinions on church teaching or whether or not they agree with church teaching. We’re asking for people’s pastoral experiences in marriage and their families," explained Shannon Loughlin, diocesan director of young-adult and campus ministries.
Pope Francis convoked next year’s synod in order to gather bishops’ "experiences and proposals in proclaiming and living the Gospel of the family in a credible manner," according to a preparatory document put out by the Vatican. The October 2014 synod will be followed by another synod in 2015, during which bishops from around the world will "seek working guidelines in the pastoral care of the person and the family," according to the document, which includes 38 questions about the ways church teachings on marriage and the family are taught and the issues that challenge those teachings in today’s modern world. Using those questions as a basis, Rochester’s diocesan officials crafted their own online survey to gather input from local Catholics, Loughlin said. Although it’s somewhat unusual for bishops to survey members of their flock in this way in preparation for a synod, the Rochester Diocese is not the only one to do so, she added.
The Diocese of Rochester’s survey asks respondents to provide some basic demographic information about their age and gender, as well as whether they’re single, cohabiting with a significant other, married, widowed, divorced, separated or in a same-sex union. Through a series of multiple-choice questions, it then asks respondents what they think about such things as their formation on the church’s teaching on the nature and purpose of the family; their preparation for marriage; and their readiness to educate their children about the sacraments. Respondents also are asked to indicate the attitudes of people in their churches toward people in each of the various types of relationships.
"What we’ve done is asked people in the pews to describe their pastoral experiences," Loughlin said.
A separate survey has been e-mailed to pastors, priests, pastoral administrators and campus-ministry directors throughout the diocese, she added. In this way, the diocese will be able to gather feedback both from pastoral leaders and from "the people in the pews," she said, noting that respondents do not have to be practicing Catholics in order to take the survey.
The survey, which only takes a few minutes to complete, will be available online through Dec. 15. The Diocese of Rochester’s apostolic administrator, Bishop Robert J. Cunningham, will submit the Rochester Diocese’s responses to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops by the end of December, and the USCCB will submit the United States’ responses to the Vatican by the end of January 2014, Loughlin said.
"We are hoping for a lot of people to take it and refer others to take it," she said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The survey can be accessed on the Diocese of Rochester’s website.Tags: Catholic Marriage