Questions but no answers from Canadian bishops’ questionnaire

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has invited dioceses to prepare for the worldwide Synod of Bishops with a set of questions on marriage and family life, but does not intend to release the questionnaire’s findings.

The questionnaire is based on a set of 46 questions issued by the Holy See in the aftermath of last October’s extraordinary Synod of Bishops. Rome’s questionnaire, combined with the final report of the 2014 assembly, comprise a preparatory document, known as the lineamenta or ‘outline’ for the coming synod.

Canada’s bishops have reworked the order of questions and modified the wording, “to provide dioceses with a set of questions rephrased and rearranged in a way that more easily facilitates any consultations dioceses may undertake”.

Msgr Patrick Powers, conference general secretary, stressed that the questionnaire is not an opinion poll or survey, but is designed to help bishops plan for their dioceses and share pastoral insights with Pope Francis.

In a statement accompanying the questionnaire, Msgr Powers said it was up to individual dioceses to decide whom they would consult and whether to emphasise certain questions.

He asked that responses be forwarded to the bishops’ conference, so Canadian responses can collectively be submitted to the general secretariat of the Synod of Bishops in Rome.