November 15, 2013

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Input of laity is needed for preparatory document for Synod of Bishops, reader says

Pope Francis has called for a general assembly of the Synod of Bishops to be held in October of 2014, with the theme, “Pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.”

In preparation for this consultation of the world’s bishops, a preparatory document was sent to national bishops’ conferences, with the request that it should be distributed as widely as possible “to deaneries and parishes so that input from local sources can be received.”

The Criterion would be doing a service for its readers if it published or made available on the archdiocesan website a copy of the questions being asked of our bishops. The poll is not intended to be a ballot, and it would be foolish to base Church doctrines on public opinion.

But if the response to the questions shows overwhelmingly that the people of the Church no longer accept certain moral teachings, the bishops need to know the scope and depth of that rejection.

If Catholics have stopped listening to the bishops on some matters, that certainly amounts to a “pastoral challenge.”

How are the Church’s teachings on the family understood by people today? Do divorced Catholics feel marginalized or suffer from being unable to receive the sacraments? What is the Church doing to reach out to divorced and remarried members? If the bishops are going to discuss pastoral challenges of the family, they need to seek input from families.

The general news media presented this request for information as a survey on moral teachings.

The Criterion owes it to its readers to provide the full story, and to give members of the Church an opportunity to provide input on these important questions.

- Peg Polanski | Greensburg

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