December 9, 2013

BALTIMORE – The extraordinary Synod of Bishops on 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.

In a brief report to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops last month, Cardinal Timothy Dolan said he's awaiting clarification from Rome 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.

Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Fla., suggested the U.S. bishops create several ways that everyday Catholics can respond to the questions the Vatican posed.

He suggested using a website such as Survey Monkey, for example, to solicit input, as well as have a way for people who don't use computers to participate.

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.

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput observed that the bishops of Great Britain have created a website to be used nationwide for people to weigh in on the questions for the synod.