ST. FRANCIS — The extraordinary Synod of Bishops on marriage and the family, called by Pope Francis for next October, is drawing great interest from everyday Catholics, many of whom are anxious to weigh in on questions the Vatican has sent out in preparation for the session.
The questions were part of a preparatory document, distributed to bishops of the world in mid-October, by Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the synod.

Bishops were encouraged to seek consultation on these questions.

In a brief report to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Nov. 11, New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said he’s awaiting clarification from the Holy See about how preparatory material such as the answers to a questionnaire sent to the world’s bishops’ conferences, will be used.

In the meantime, several bishops said they are already consulting with their priests’ councils or other diocesan organizations.
Cardinal Dolan said he didn’t think it would constitute skating on thin ice to say that any bishop could rework the questions from the Vatican so that they are clear to the general public.

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Preparatory document

Survey (Accessible beginning Friday, Nov. 22)

Concerned that the questionnaire be more “user friendly” for parishioners at large, Milwaukee archdiocesan officials have created an online survey form using the original question format. It will be available online, Friday, Nov. 22.

“We modified it to make it more user friendly,” said Jerry Topczewski, Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki’s chief of staff, describing how online survey participants will use Survey Monkey to check common boxes to submit information, rather than having to write out long answers to questions.

Topczewski said parishes are being asked to publicize the link to the survey in bulletins the weekends of Nov. 23-24 and Nov. 30-Dec. 1. The online survey will be available on the archdiocesan website through Sunday, Dec. 15, in order that the archdiocese can tabulate responses and return them to the USCCB by the year-end deadline.

Encouraging people to offer input via the survey, Topczewski said, “If we’re going to have a synod on marriage and the family and talk about the pastoral challenges under that umbrella, it would makes sense to go ask the people who deal with those pastoral challenges as directly as we can for input, and people who deal with those pastoral challenges are people who are married and who have families.”

The survey, said Topczewski, acknowledges the challenges people face and the desire of the church to respond better to the challenges people face in daily life.

The preparatory document, which offers context for the questions, is also available online at

(Patricia Zapor, Catholic News Service, contributed to this story.)   Maryangela Layman Román