The Vatican is asking bishops’ conferences to undertake the survey in preparation for an upcoming synod of bishops, to be held Oct. 5-19, 2014, on the theme “Pastoral Challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.”
The Vatican questionnaire was sent Oct. 18 from Baldisseri, the general secretary of the synod’s Vatican office, to the presidents of the world’s individual bishops’ conferences.
It asks the conferences to quiz their populations on topics that sometimes have sharply divided the U.S. church, like the Catholic teaching prohibiting the use of artificial contraception, the possibility of a divorced Catholic to remarry or receive Communion, and the number of young people choosing to live together before marrying.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. bishops’ conference, Helen Osman, said in a statement Thursday “it will be up to each bishop to determine what would be the most useful way of gathering information to provide to Rome.”
Responses to the questions posed by the Vatican have been mixed, Hale said.
“Dozens of separated and divorced Catholics noted that they don’t feel welcomed in their Church communities because they don’t have access to the sacraments,” he said. “Once again, dozens of gay and lesbian Catholics expressed the same sentiment. One noted how she felt like her treatment in her parish was [similar] to the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy.”