While not a survey of public opinion it is the first time that the Vatican has asked bishops to share a survey widely with parish priests and for them to seek the views of their parishioners in preparation for such a meeting.
The questions, arranged in 9 topic areas, touch on themes such as how Catholic teaching on the value of the family has been received and understood, also about marriage according to natural law, local efforts to support and promote family life as well as how the Church is able to minister and care for people in irregular marriage situations including the religious education of the children of these marriages. The survey also explores the openness of married couples to life and the Sacraments of the Church.
At this time the survey will be distributed to all Priests and Deacons in the 15 county diocese. Others involved in the marriage ministry of the parishes may be consulted as well. The results of the open question style survey must be compiled and returned by the end of the year.
Victoria Laskowski, Director of Marriage and Family Ministries for the Diocese said, “It will be a big job to read and compile all the surveys in the short time allotted but I feel that it will be worth it to share this information about marriage in Central Pennsylvania with the larger Church.”
According to the Vatican the questionnaire is an attempt to help the Church find solutions to difficult pastoral situations utilizing the existing doctrines of the faith. Results from the survey will be incorporated into a working document that will be utilized in the Synod, or meeting of bishops, that will take place in 2015. Popes traditionally use the findings of synods to create their own documents on a given subject, in this case the family.