Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, has requested that Bishops’ Conferences around the world distribute a questionnaire to deaneries, parishes and individuals in preparation for the Extraordinary Synod to be held in October 2014 on the theme “Pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelisation’. The Bishops Conference of England and Wales has put the questionnaire on-line, explaining that individual responses will be forwarded to dioceses to be collated into diocesan reports. The questionnaire asks questions about marriage and the family, as well as specific questions about contraception, divorced and re-married and same-sex marriage. There are some glaring omissions in the questionnaire about marriage and the family that should be included.
The following is Protect the Pope’s assessment of the questionnaire distributed by the Bishops Conference of England and Wales:
The first five questions have been added by the Bishops Conference of England and Wales and are not included in the preparatory document distributed by Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri. Question four asks about the marital status of the respondent and in a drop down includes the following descriptors: Married, Single, Engaged, Widowed, Separated, Divorced. These categories cover every option so why has the Bishops Conference included: Other (Please Specify)?
Q1. The Diffusion of the Teachings on the Family in Sacred Scripture and the Church’s Magisterium
Question 1a: Describe how the Catholic Church’s teachings on the value of the family contained in the Bible, Gaudium et Spes, Familiaris Consortio and other documents of the post-conciliar Magisterium is understood by people today? What formation is given to our people on the Church’s teaching on family life?
[Protect the Pope comment: Considering that one of the objectives of the Year of Faith has been to re-launch the Catechism of the Catholic Church as the major catechetical resource for the Church its very odd that the Catechism is not explicitly referred to alongside Gaudium et Spes and Familiaris Consortio. The sections in the Catechism on the sacrament of marriage, contraception and divorce are some the clearest expressions of the Church's doctrine and discipline.]
Q5. On Unions of Persons of the Same Sex
Question 5a: Is there a law in your country recognizing civil unions for people of the same-sex and equating it in some way to marriage?
[Protect the Pope comment: It is a mistake for the Holy See to accept the premise of the State equating same-sex civil unions with marriage. The question should have stated 'erroneously equating it in some way to marriage'.]
Question 5b: What is the attitude of the local and particular Churches towards both the State as the promoter of civil unions between persons of the same sex and the people involved in this type of union?
[Protect the Pope comment: This is a very useful question because it exposes any collaboration or compromise between the local church and the State regarding the provision of civil unions. Basically this question is asking where do your bishops and priests stand on the issue of same sex unions?]
Question 5d: In the case of unions of persons of the same sex who have adopted children, what can be done pastorally in light of transmitting the faith?
[Protect the Pope comment: Again it is a mistake for the Holy See to accept the secular premise, in this case of same-sex persons adopting children. Instead the question should ask what is the local church doing to promote the truth that same sex persons should not adopt children because of the primacy of the children's needs for a mother and father.]
Glaring omission: There is no question about the impact of the State legalising gay marriage on the Church’s freedom to live and teach the doctrine of marriage and sexuality.
Q7. The Openness of the Married Couple to Life
Question 7a: What knowledge do Christians have today of the teachings of Humanae vitae on responsible parenthood? Are they aware of how morally to evaluate the different methods of family planning? Could any insights be suggested in this regard pastorally?
[Protect the Pope comment: This is a great question because it naturally assumes the truth of Humanae Vitae as the source about how to morally evaluate different methods of family planning. This is the starting point of this series of questions, Humanae Vitae is true. Catholics may not accept Humanae Vitae but this doesn't detract from the fact that its moral evaluation of contraception is true.]
Question 7b: Is this moral teaching accepted? What aspects pose the most difficulties in a large majority of couple’s accepting this teaching?
[Protect the Pope comment: This question rightly accepts that a large majority of couples have problems have problems accepting this teaching, but makes the mistake of not asking do Catholics actually know the teaching of Humanae Vitae? The fact is that the majority of bishops, priests and deacons have not taught couples about the teachings of Humanae Vitae].
Glaring omission: There is no question eliciting responses about whether bishops, priests, deacons or catechists are actually teaching Humanae Vitae. The Holy See has made the mistake of assuming that Humanae Vitae is being taught. As we all know, it ISN’T.
Question 7e: What differences are seen in this regard between the Church’s teaching and civic education?
[Protect the Pope comment: This is another great question about the relationship between the local church and the state because its asking is there a difference between sex education in Catholic schools and sex education in state schools? Maybe here Catholics could point out that the CES has been promoting Connexions in Catholic schools, and some diocese have no problem with Stonewall going into Catholic schools]
Question 7f: How can a more open attitude towards having children be fostered? How can an increase in births be promoted?
Glaring omission: Two fundamental questions are missing from this section on openness to life – there is no question about Catholic couples with fertility problems using IVF and there is no question asking how is the local church challenging the unquestioned acceptance of abortion, even among some Catholics. Its incomprehensible why these two moral issues are absent from a questionnaire about marriage and the family.
Protect the Pope comment: Its essential that the questions that are omitted from the Holy See’s questionnaire are included in the Synod’s instrumentum laboris [working agenda]. Protect the Pope appeals to all our readers to add these omitted issues to your response to the questionnaire in the section 9, ‘What other challenges or proposals related to the topics in the above questions do you consider urgent and useful to treat?’
To answer the questionnaire go to: