Pope Francis is NOT expecting the world’s Catholics to answer questionnaire about contraception, divorced & re-married and gay marriage – Vatican spokesman

Contrary to reports in the media and from the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales Fr. Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, has said that Pope Francis is NOT expecting the world’s Catholics to answer the Synod’s questionnaire about contraception, divorced and re-married and gay marriage. Archbishop Baldisseri’s letter accompanying the Preparatory Document clearly states that the questions are meant for deaneries and parishes ’since the time available is short, I would appreciate if you would follow the most brief and practical institutional process.’

Vatican Radio reported:

‘It must be noted that the Holy See’s spokesman has already clarified that Pope Francis has not presented a questionnaire to Catholics worldwide to consult on homosexual unions and divorced persons, as some news outlets have reported. This assertion, made by Italian daily il Fatto Quotidiano among others, is “not true” and in fact, the basis is only the aforementioned document sent to bishops’ conferences throughout the world by the secretary general of the synod of bishops, Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, in preparation for the synod of bishops,” Fr. Federico Lombardi had told Catholic News Agency (CNA) Nov. 2.

He added that the synod, will be dedicated to “the pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.” and will focus on pastoral responses to the problems of divorce and gay marriage, as well as other challenges to the health of families. But on Nov. 1, the National Catholic Reporter characterized the document sent to bishops’ conferences as “a Vatican survey asking (Catholics’) opinions on church teachings.” The same day, il Fatto Quotidiano, a leftist and populist publication based in Rome, wrote that “the decision of Francis to listen, on such delicate themes, to the voice of the faithful, is absolutely unprecedented.” In fact, the process of requesting input from around the world for a synod of bishops is well precedented; the previous Synod on the New Evangelization, held in 2012, also asked bishops’ conferences to encourage discussion of topics related to evangelization and summarize their findings.

Moreover, in his Oct. 18 letter asking that dioceses share the Preparatory Document for the 2014 synod “as widely as possible to deaneries and parishes,” Archbishop Baldisseri also noted that “since the time available is short, I would appreciate if you would follow the most brief and practical institutional process.” Fr. Lombardi responded, stressing that the questions “are not regarding the doctrinal position of the Church,” explaining that the document has solely an advisory character, forming part of the habitual “praxis” of the synod of bishops. The questions were given to the bishops of all the world’s dioceses on how to address pastoral questions and how to give assistance to persons in irregular family situations, among other things. 

Fr Lombardi’s repudiation of the media’s misrepresentation of the Extraordinary Synod’s questionnaire is difficult to reconcile with Bishop Hines statement on Vatican Radio about the questionnaire:

Bishop Hines welcomes the decision to send out this questionnaire seeking input from lay Catholics around the world ahead of next year’s Synod describing it as “extremely significant” and saying it’s already received an enthusiastic feedback from the faithful. “It really responds to the desire for the people, the laity in the Church to be consulted on matters which concern them so deeply.” “Couples are delighted that they’re going to be involved in the consultations,” he says.

Bishops Hines also says he finds this initiative “extremely refreshing” but goes on to warn that “it will, of course, raise expectations (from the lay faithful) and we have to recognize that and be prepared to work at meeting those expectations in some way.”

When asked if he believes some of those expectations are likely to be met or whether they are over the top, the Bishop says “those expectations are the reality that we’re facing” and adds that he believes it is very positive that “the Church is facing the real challenges so openly and this in itself, is of huge pastoral benefit.”

Protect the Pope comment: Bishop Hines warning that the questionnaire raises expectations and that the Church ‘must recognize that and be prepared to work at meeting those expectations in some way’ is the reason why Fr Lombardi has so quickly repudiated the media’s misrepresentation of the Extraordinary Synod’s series of questions. This is why Fr Lombardi’s has stressed that the series of questions are not ‘extremely refreshing’ , are not unprecedented, but are what happens before every synod – bishops are asked to consult with their deaneries and parishes about the questions to be discussed in the synod. What’s unprecedented is that the Bishops’ Conference has added five introductory questions that turn the preparatory questions for bishops into a questionnaire for individuals. It will also extremely concern Archbishop Baldisseri and Fr Lombardi that Bishop Hines, and others, are saying that ‘“it will, of course, raise expectations (from the lay faithful) and we have to recognize that and be prepared to work at meeting those expectations in some way.” Again, this is why Fr Lombardi has stressed that the questions  ’are not regarding the doctrinal position of the Church.’ The media and some Bishops Conferences are suggesting that the Extraordinary Synod is going to change the Church’s doctrine on contraception, divorced and re-married and gay marriage based on responses to this questionnaire. Fr Lombardi has spoken on behalf of the Holy See, saying the questions to bishops are not about changing doctrine.




25 comments to Pope Francis is NOT expecting the world’s Catholics to answer questionnaire about contraception, divorced & re-married and gay marriage – Vatican spokesman

  • I’ve had an initial read of the Vatican document and cannot understand these comments by Bishop Hinns. Maybe I’ve missed something but it seems to me the document lays out orthodox Church teaching and questions how this is being taught in local parishes and how well it is being received. There is a suggestion that annulments may be simplified.

  • I can’t believe that Bishop Hine could be so stupid to put such a spin on this questionnaire. OTOH maybe it was entirely calculated to create confusion about Church doctrine and so push the modernist agenda. Whatever was in his mind he should know better than to think that Catholic doctrine can be changed by lobby groups – particularly lobby groups composed of the incontinent, the unchaste and adulterers. If he does not believe Catholic doctrine he should not be a bishop in the first place. Teach the faith or resign as unfit!

    • A human being

      Some of the replies of these people, who no doubt regard themselves as good Christians, are deeply worrying, particularly that of Deacon Augustine, who refers to ‘lobby groups composed of the incontinent, the unchaste and adulterers’ and another who mentions ‘heretics’. Isn’t it just this sort of condemnation that Pope Francis says is unhelpful? I would characterise it as a) unchristian, b) off-putting to anyone with a shred of humanity, and c) the sign of an unhealthy obsession with the personal affairs of those who are having a better time than yourself.

      Even more astonishing is the claim by Michael Petek that anything can be ‘uncommanded and therefore forbidden’. Surely millions of things are uncommanded: using a telephone, cleaning your teeth, recycling the earth’s resources, posting comments on a website … Are they all forbidden?

  • Lynda

    Pastoral actions must always be in conformity with the doctrine of the Church.

    • Wake up England


      Try telling that to the Irish bishops!

      They have abortions in their hospitals.

      They say nothing when pro-abortion laws are passed in their country.

      Those things are not in conformity with the doctrines of the Church.

  • Mrs Lardeur and her fellow heretics at ACTA will no doubt be chuffed to learn that the final destination for all of their hard “work” will be the Episcopal spam filter …

    • Deacon Nick Donnelly

      Now that the Bishops’ Conference has made the public commitment to pass on individual responses to the Preparatory Document to dioceses the dioceses have a duty to consider and include those responses in their reports. Justice and charity impose that obligation. Deacon Nick

      • hmmmmm, true ; though I’d quibble with “to consider and include” — I’d say, “to consider during the elaboration of each response”.

        But still — England & Wales and the US now have Bishops Conferences that are in a state of overt Collegial rebellion against the Holy See ?


        There is not a single sign that ANY of the French dioceses will even dream of conferring with the Laity on this, though of course each individual parish or deanery certainly has the freedom to do so, with the assent of their Ordinaries.

  • Genty

    Another fine mess . . .

  • Bishop Hine: It really responds to the desire for the people, the laity in the Church to be consulted on matters which concern them so deeply.

    With respect to his Lordship, if he were really that bothered about consultation, he and every other bishop in our Bishops’ Conference would consult and survey the lay faithful before every plenary meeting of the Conference, and before each of their ad limina visits.

    Since they do not do this, my own suspicion is that, unfortunately, there is a certain amount of PR work and bandwagon-jumping happening on this particular occasion.

    Bishop Hine: [I]t will, of course, raise expectations (from the lay faithful) and we have to recognize that and be prepared to work at meeting those expectations in some way.

    Whose expectations have been raised, exactly? Those of the ACTA persuasion, the Tabletistas, the Humanae Vitae dissenters? And what does his Lordship think those expectations consist of? Does he share those expectations?

    Bishop Hine is only a few steps short of suggesting that the Church should follow the world in matters of the family and marriage. At the very least, his comments will only embolden those out-and-out dissenters who have spent the last 50 years lobbying for the Church to ape the world in accepting contraception, divorce, same-sex so-called ‘marriage’, etc. How much more experiential evidence do we need that this course does not (and cannot!) lead the faithful into that holiness Vatican II called everyone to (Lumen Gentium 39-40)?

  • Confusius

    Who made this man Hines a bishop? And why is he still a bishop?

  • Andrew Hall

    The BBC’s coverage of this yesterday was depressingly typical – ‘unprecedented’, ‘the Church will have to change’, etc., etc. Can journalists no longer research their pieces? The ‘Vatican specialist’ hummed and hawed and seemed to have no idea whatsoever. (Perhaps his name ought to be forwarded to Mgr. Mennini for inclusion on the next terna?

    • Denis

      I regard the BBC’s “journalism” as shoddy, unintelligent and above all profoundly lazy. The list of their blunders and stupidity is unending. They know nothing about the Catholic Church and seek to find out nothing. I suspect they have some form of filter that brings these stories to their attention and then they look for a “Catholicism for Dummies” guide to give them something to say.
      Newsnight’s Kirsty Wark remarked that Pope John Paul II was “having” his last rites. More recent examples were two presenters on BBC4 totally unable to grasp the idea of condemning the sin, but not the sinner and another presenter talking of “poor Clare” singular. As to “double effect”, well as they say in the States, don’t even go there!

  • Michael Petek

    Too late, I’ve answered it anyway. As follows:

    (1) Leaving aside the case of a union of unbaptised persons only one of whom is a Jew, and the case for which St Paul disclaims any instruction from the Lord (1 Cor. 7), the teaching of scripture is clear. In the beginning, God gave one law of marriage to the whole human race including the law that the bond of a valid marriage once consummated is indissoluble by any cause other than death. He gave a law of divorce to Israel and to no other nation, and Jesus limited lawful divorce to the case where it is compulsory by the Law of Moses on the ground that the man and the woman are categorically forbidden to one another for sexual relations.

    (2) A holy God will not allow Himself to be approached save in the manner He prescribes. When a man and his wife approach one another in the marriage bed, they deal with the life-giving power of God in what must be considered a sacred act. He commands them to pay the debt of the marriage bed, anything further – such as contraception – being uncommanded and therefore forbidden. (Lev. 10:1-3). Contraception and artificial human fertilisation of whatever description are therefore forbidden under the head at least of pharmakeia (sorcery) and as such are related to idolatry. The separation of procreation from the one-flesh union brought about by the marriage act establishes the kingdom of Satan as surely as the separation in death of the Body and Bloor of Christ overthrew it and established the kingdom of God. And so the Lord says this: “I have a few things against you. You tolerate. . . . ” (Rev. 2:18-29)


    It seems that Bishop Hines is part of the problem.

  • Marietta

    What exactly is the purpose of the survey?

  • Bob Hayes

    It appears the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton has produced its own version of the questionnaire. Has anyone had sight of said survey?

  • Susan Miller

    A parent’s responsibility to a child includes food, shelter and clothing. If a Catholic parent cannot provide these things, no child should be conceived. Contraception to avoid conception should be required by the Catholic Church in these circumstances. A strong Church Militant cannot be made from unthinking sheep.

    • Nicolas Bellord

      Good grief Susan. And what do you recommend if the parent does that? Some kind of punishment or an abortion perhaps? If there are cases where a mother has no hope of food, shelter or clothing I suggest you do something about it.

  • Frederico Languedi

    Cardinal Erdo, Relator of the Extraordinary Synod Bishops on the Family, has given an interview to CNS

    He makes the point that the consultation was addressed directly to Bishops’ Conferences but also to individual Bishops – and that they have the responsibility of consulting the Church entrusted to their pastoral care. He also makes it clear that this is not a survey of public opinion as though we might make the message of the Gospel or the magisterium of the Church depend on an opinion survey.

  • Frederico Languedi

    Some of the questions are quite convoluted. No blame for this lies with the Bishops of England and Wales since the questions were not set by them. They are the ones given by the Holy See’s Synod Office in their Preparatory Document for the Synod. However, if the Bishops proposed to ask their flock for answers why did they (Bishops)not produce a questionnaire that was suited to the average mind in the pew. This smacks of totalitarianism which I thought the church was trying to get rid of.


    I have only heard about this questionnaire!!!
    I haven’t heard anybody in the Diocese of Dublin mention it!Can somebody tell me where i can find it?

  • Cormac Clancy

    The FULL text of the original document as sent to Bishops (or at least the Vatican Radio’s translation to english!) is available at :


    The questionnaire as modified by the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland is available at :


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