Glaring omissions in Holy See’s synod questionnaire about contraception, divorced & remarried and same-sex marriage

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:

38 comments to Glaring omissions in Holy See’s synod questionnaire about contraception, divorced & remarried and same-sex marriage

  • Lynda

    It seems laden with false, relativistic premises. Not informed by the doctrine of the Faith.

  • The answer is really simple: if we all fill in the form and point out its deficiencies and answer both the questions on the form and those that should have been on the form, the CBCEW will get a better view of what motivates Catholics in the pew than they will get otherwise.

    Not “vote early, vote often”, but “give yourself enough time to write a long essay”. They’ve had one from me.

  • Lisa Graas

    Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

  • Rifleman819

    Deacon Nick,
    The Church must NEVER dance to the world’s jig.

  • Bob Hayes

    Made my submission this afternoon – to the extent that I could complete the questions. Clearly the exercise is directed at a wide variety of potential respondents and different people will have different depths and breadths of knowledge.

    I took the opportunity to make known my view that there is an ‘Alternative Hierarchy’ – including ‘Catholic politicians’, ‘Catholic journalists’ and self-serving priests promoting alternative agendas and vehemently opposing Church teaching.

    This drawing together of comments from those who choose / have the opportunity to contribute may be described as a ‘consultation’, but it could easily turn out to be an ad hoc census. I do hope people contribute to this exercise, especially where they can shine a light into murky corners. Perhaps that is easy for me to say as I have the good fortune to live in a parish that has a priest who is orthodox and zealous in his ministry.

    Whatever you think of the questionnaire, do please make a submission – and pray!

  • Wake up England

    Oh and by the way, I hope EVERYONE in Ireland who fills in one of these states how wrong it is that the Irish bishops did next-to-nothing to discourage the new abortion laws.

    And please also point-out that Irish Catholic hospitals are (without much of a murmur) co-operating in abortions.

    And don’t forget to add that no Irish politicians who voted for the legislation have been excommunicated, even though those politicians who DID vote against the legislation have now been sacked!

    Not much of a “Survey” necessary in many places, Your Holiness. It’s manifestly obvious that many of your bishops are doing their best to subvert Real Catholicism.

  • thisiscounterculture

    I tried to fill in the survey but it asked you for your diocese and only gave English options. Have the Scottish Bishops released their own version of the survey yet?

  • Fr B

    As priest I am not sure which category I come under, I am celibate, married to the Church. Why can’t they put ‘celibate’ as a category in a survey in part addressed to priests and religious?

    I am a little concerned that the responses are sent my diocese. How do I say that never has my bishop written on the value of marriage and as far as I know never preached on it either? How do I say that those who stand up for Catholic teaching on marriage are sidelined in my diocese?

  • Here is what the Bishops Conferences of England and Wales, and the US, have suppressed :

    See, in particular, The Plan of God, Creator and Redeemer, on page 3 for the proper pastoral teaching that these English Bishops are failing to communicate in this “Consultation”.

  • Lola

    In Southwark, we are informed that a member of the Marriage and Family Life Team “will collate the replies from the diocese and produce a synthesis for the Bishops’ Conference.”. Active participation is towards Deans, religious and lay organisations albeit the survey is open to the Catholic in the pew only if one wishes to do respond to the survey. Therein lies the anomaly. Catholics in the pew can only respond if they know there is something afoot to respond to! Being that the purpose is to gather what Catholics in the pew know about Church teachings and it is their understanding that is being polled, Parish priests should tell their Parishioners about it. But, will they…being that the general response directly results in an audit of current catechesis and pastoral care in their respective Parishes?

  • Ann Lardeur

    Incorrect, Julian! I saw a copy of the “suppressed” document being officially circulated 2 days ago.

    • Deacon Nick Donnelly

      Anne, I’ll allow you to post on Protect the Pope but if you so much as hint at legal action again as you did last time, I’ll delete all your posts and permanently ban you. Just to remind you, last time round you wrote that you and others were keeping copies of the posts on Protect the Pope and you wrote this in the context of Anthony Millar’s posts about legal action. Deacon Nick

      • Wake up England

        Regarding Anne Lardeur:

        Oh Golly, do we REALLY have to put up with her nonsense again here? She’ll never have a straight and honest debate and then squeals on about “legal action”. She’s ridiculous.

        I’d rather have John Dare (and believe me, that’s not something I’d say lightly).

    • Oh dear, Mrs Lardeur — can you show me where, exactly, is the Bishops Conference explaining to the Laity, that they have so irresponsibly circulated this document to in such an unpastoral manner, that the questions are to be understood and the answers are to be framed within the precise context of the pastoral teaching that I alluded to ?

      And BTW — WHEN exactly did “parishes and deaneries” become synonymous with “the Laity” ???

  • Liz

    In the process of completing it (with the permission of my priest I will put a pointer to it in our newsletter)

    Some of the questions are not easy for the average lay person to answer, eg. not everyone knows what is happening on a diocesan or national level. I have a good idea of what is happening locally as I have quite a central role in my parish, but I am guessing that a good few parishioners would disagree with my answers, nevertheless.

    Although there are omissions, I have ensured that I have answered them, nevertheless!

    “Question 4d: ……Do they feel marginalized or suffer from the impossibility of receiving the sacraments?”

    Deacon – am I missing something, or does this assume the impossibility of repentance, conversion and reconcilliation!!

    • Deacon Nick Donnelly

      Liz, you are right in pointing out that this question discounts the possibility of couples responding to the Gospel proclamation of repentance, conversion and reconciliation. Shockingly this questionnaire unquestioningly accepts the secular position without challenging it. Deacon Nick

  • Ann Lardeur

    Deacon Nick. Did you take down the posts as I asked? I have not bothered to check – was interested to discover whether your followers were also finding the Vatispeak questions problematic too. As for WUE; a proper serious debate was offered, subject to no abuse, and it was declined. Ball was in PTP court not mine. Anyway life moves on thank God. A

    • Wake up England

      Anne Lardeur:

      You have now resorted to misrepresentation

      You were invited (with kid gloves, lest your delicate sensitivities were upset) to enter into meaningful discussions by numerous people here, including me.

      You fudged, you wriggled, you squirmed, you complained, you lamented, you loudly criticised everyone for not being “nice” to you; you jumped through every hoop in the book to avoid answering the very reasonable questions put to you.

      And now we learn that you threatened “Legal Action”!

      You have lost your right to any vestige of integrity or credibility. [Moderated comment]

    • @Ann Lardeur: It is nice of you to answer some of the questions asked of you last time you were here. In this discussion thread on the ACTA group hosted on Google Groups, you mention that you agree with Pippa Bonner, who I believe is a member of the National Coordinating Group of Catholic Women’s Ordination. Regarding her response to the questionnaire, she writes:

      I mentioned I am a divorced, annulled, remarried Catholic who does not support Humanae Vitae, supports civil partnerships and gay marriage. wants lay involvement at every level, more involvement from women including women’s ordination.

      To which you replied:

      Brave of you, Pippa. I looked at it and blanched! Sorely tempted to write non jargon non-ecclesia-speak version and send it to our bishop and ask him to use it to fill up the questionnaire. Having read your views I wonder if I can use the form and just state I agree with Pippa!

      So, Ann, thank you for finally answering at least some of the questions you have previously been asked by people here – albeit indirectly and among your confrères on another, publicly accessible site. And, I have to say, that particular ACTA group thread is very illuminating, to say the least.


      “I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church teaches, believes and proclaims to be revealed by God.” For those of you here who can affirm those words, I implore you: please, fill out the questionnaire – prayerfully and joyfully, without grumbling (Phil. 2:14-18)! Don’t leave it to those who belong to groups like ACTA; don’t let the weeds outnumber the wheat (cf. Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43).

      And the questions are perhaps not all they could be, but this is only a preparatory document – don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good!

      • Wake up England

        Matthew Hazell:

        Re: Anne Larduer:

        The plot thins!

        Thank you for posting something of the truth about her.

        Why on Earth can’t this ridiculous woman have the integrity and guts to state what she thinks/believes in all forums (including this one)?

        • @WUE: Evidently, openness and transparency are for everyone else. I notice that in the same Google Groups thread I linked to earlier, in post #12, Mrs Lardeur also writes this:

          I reckon best way to get responses free from vaticanspeak jargon is for us to design our own questionnaire which covers main topics, dispenses with statistics etc. We all fill in and send to bishops conference. Regards, Ann

          So instead of answering the same publicly available, open, objective questions as everyone else, she suggests that ACTA come up with their own questions and answer those instead. From an open system to a closed one!

          What do we want? Accountability!
          Who do we want it for? Everyone else!

  • Rifleman819

    Wake Up ,

    Well said…..the Crystal Queen, the Porcelain Princess, BD MTheol is on the prowl.
    Remember …she would defend to the death your right to agree with her.

    Be afraid …..very afraid

  • Ann Lardeur

    Deacon Nick et al

    Remember this

    Deacon Nick Donnelly

    October 3, 2013 at 12:56 am · Reply

    I admire Ann’s perseverance posting on Protect the Pope, so I want everyone to focus on the ideas and not engage in personal attacks and insults or being patronizing and superior. I’ll keep an eye on this thread and if I see people being mean I’ll delete their posts. Deacon Nick

    I saw not much sign of you sticking to this before and taking down objectionable ones.


    • @Ann Lardeur: In my experience in cyberspace, it’s generally considered quite rude to come onto someone else’s internet site and tell them how they should be running it. (It’s also quite rude for one to ignore questions politely asked of one, but we’re in a slightly different context here.)

      I would also kindly request that you stop playing the victim. With your educational background, you really ought to be above that by now.

    • It’s nobody’s affair should you desire or decide to take expressions of disagreement with rebellion and dissent so personally, Mrs Lardeur.

    • Wake up England


      Deacon Donnelly wrote this before you slowly revealed that you had not the slightest intention of answering the courteous and pertinent questions which were posed by people here.

      However, when your tactics of evasiveness reached the level of being utterly ridiculous, people (unsurprisingly)became impatient of their time being wasted in a concertedly cynical way by you.

      Of course the REAL truth is you prevaricated and procrastinated because you simply CANNOT answer the questions.

      You make no intelligent answers, because you have none to offer. At best you’re pretentious; at worst you’re trying to subvert and pervert the Catholic Faith for reasons you decline to declare honestly.

      Frankly, you lack the intellectual sapience and knowledge to render answers to any of the questions posed; and THAT dear Ann is the real reason why you’re so thin-skinned and touchy.

      It’s plain for all to see that you’re a complete intellectual fraud – with a rather high opinion of herself.

  • Ann Lardeur

    Time to reflect?

    1. Pope Francis is attracting much positive interest in the Catholic Church.
    2. Anyone putting “Pope Francis” into a search engine may well discover PTP.
    3. Stand back and consider what impression, if they were exploring becoming a catholic, get of the laity
    from the trolling posts on PTP?
    4. What impression would they get of the clergy who post, or Deacon Nick who allows them?
    5. Would they be still be interested in joining the Catholic Community.
    6. Thinking eschatologically, when the recording angel’s scroll is opened are the trolling posts likely to be found in the good or bad column.
    7. Perhaps Deacon Nick you should reconsider the house rules of other website which include discuss the argument: do not attack the person.

    • Nicolas Bellord

      But Anne you are doing just that – attacking the persons who comment on this blog. WUE bent over backwards to be polite and engage you in dialogue. It was only when you refused his offers repeatedly that he got a bit exasperated. BJC asked you some pertinent questions as to your beliefs – you never replied. Why not explain to us what the aims of ACTA are: are they promoting ordination of marriage, gay marriage etc?

    • @Ann Lardeur: Thinking eschatologically, I wonder in which column your rejection of Catholic teaching and divine law is likely to be found?

      “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Mt. 7:3-5)

      (And, no matter how many times you do so, it is still rude to tell others how to run their own websites.)

    • Wake up England

      Anne Larduer:

      Why will you not answer the extremely pertinent questions asked of you?

      If you’re so upset by people not being “nice” to you why come back here?

      Do you support the notion of women being ordained to the Priesthood?

    • Bob Hayes

      Ann, you may recall the Holy Father has more than once stressed that the Church must not be seen as, or become, as just another NGO. Some of your ACTA colleagues have/had careers in management consultancy and personnel and this seems to be shaping ACTA ‘theology’, as in point 5 of your post you refer to the ‘Catholic Community’.

      Is that how ACTA perceives the Bride of Christ?

  • Dear Message Board,

    Born and raised a British Catholic but attending mass infrequently over recent years I have become more interested in re-engaging with my religion since Pope Francis’ recent activity. I stumbled across this website after googling for more information about the survey. I had become disengaged with the Church due to their inability to relate their teachings to my life as a single celibate woman in London and my work with young people. I also have divorced non_catholic friends who I believe made the right decision for their families and I could not marry that to my understanding of my faith and its teachings. Having visited several countries in Africa and South America, I could not relate the teachings on contraception to the human suffering I witnessed.

    I have attended mass with my family recently and was inspired by the engaging approach of the new (to me) priest in the Parish and am considering a return to the Church. He has helped me understand how I can be comfortable with these apparently diametrically opposed views.

    But if the views that appear to be in the majority here on this website are still those of the congregation in my local parish then I wont be returning.
    If your comments here are a reflection of the opinions “of the pew” then I am much saddened. This apparently cliquey inhouse fighting and trolling, this inability to acknowledge that living the life of a faithful Catholic is a challenge for some of us and the delight that is taken in the overly complex documentation and teachings of the Church is most offputting. If prevalent it results in the total loss of the “message” of the Church and apparently deliberate confusion of those not educated highly both within and outwith the Church and is tragic in my view. I want to sit in a pew and offer my neighbour peace believing that we are of one community.

    As a child I was so very proud to be born into a Catholic family and my parents offering me the choice to be confirmed and my choice to do so was incredibly empowering and a beautiful thing in my life (I attended a non-Catholic secondary school). I attended mass and classes in my parish weekly and reveled in the teachings of the Church. I was asked to question and explore my responses and was spiritually invigorated by this.

    Go back and look at what our community choose to teach young children about what it means to be a Catholic. That is what matters most. Not these (albeit important) singular issues.

    What does it mean to be a Catholic? Ask a non-Catholic and they’ll tell you it means being anti-abortion, anti-contraception, anti-gay, anti-pre-marital sex. These may be teachings but to me being a Catholic is primarily about other things and these are simply some of the rules we are asked to live by to demonstrate our faith. As a child I was taught about love, devotion, faith, the passion and the Trinity and that these things were some of the important parts of being a Catholic. Where are they now?

    Or, you can all be proud of your difference from the rest of the world, your isolation, and your insistence to be pedantic about one (important yes, but just one) area of teaching. And watch hundreds of thousands of Catholics distance themselves. And you’ll get what you appear to want. A small minority delighting in your insular world, a world that has a “door policy” so tight noone can get in and few want to.

    So actually maybe I will return to weekly mass and practice. And maybe Ill fight for my religion and fight for it to be the religion I was confirmed into, the Creed I was taught and believed in, the Trinity that guides, protects me, created me and died for me. And I will fight for the Church that is acting in Gods name.

    And yes, there are probably a wealth of errors in content and terminology in the sentence above. Maybe that makes me not a Catholic. But I am human, I am fallible and when I repent I want to repent for things I believe are wrong and work harder at being a good person and not worry about whether or not the person sitting next to me made a bad choice at 20 and got married to someone who was unable to help them develop as a Catholic and then left the marriage.

    I apologise if Ive missed the point of all your comments. Im new to all this. But this move by the Church to engage with people is a good one even if all the responses mirror the majority of comments above. Then, at least Ill know I need to look for another Church

  • Derek


    What a lovely post.

    While not in the exact same situation as you, you have reflected many of my thoughts and feelings.

    Go in Peace, I hope that the Lord illuminates your path back to the fold.



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