“What is ONE thing you would like to share with Pope Francis as he leads the Church?” That’s one of the key questions being asked in a new survey by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to gather information for Pope Francis’ synod on synodality.
The survey is for “all the baptized” and aims to reach practicing and non-practicing Catholics, said Amy Tadlock, a canon lawyer and chief organizational effectiveness officer for the archdiocese.
Pope Francis wants “all Catholics around the world to come together, listen to each other, listen to the Holy Spirit and give their input on how He should guide the global Church in the years to come. And every diocese is invited to participate,” said Tadlock, whom Bishop Bernard Hebda has assigned to oversee local efforts related to the Vaticanit is Synod on synodalityformally entitled “For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission”.
The survey invites participants to share a written response to the “one thing” question, then select five areas “on which you think the Catholic Church should focus its greatest attention” from a list of 30 topics, including “pro-life efforts,” “climate change” and “role of women in the Church.”
The survey also asks for certain demographic information, but respondents remain anonymous.
In 2020, Pope Francis announced that the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops would focus on “synodality,” which the Synod’s website defines as “a style, a culture, a way of thinking and being, which reflects the truth that the Church is led by the Holy Spirit who enables everyone to offer their own contribution to the life of the Church. The bishops’ meeting is due to take place at the Vatican in October 2023.
Preparation for the Synod on Synodality is a two-year process that includes consultation with all the faithful, divided into four phases. The current phase includes the collection of information at the diocesan level.
The archdiocese’s investigation cites the preparatory document of the Vatican Synod, which states that “the purpose of the Synod…is not to produce documents, but “to sow dreams, to stir up prophecies and visions, to allow hope to flourish, inspire trust, heal wounds, build relationships together, awaken a dawn of hope, learn from each other and create brilliant ingenuity that will enlighten minds, warm hearts, will give strength to our hands.
The archdiocese will share the feedback gathered by the survey with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in late June.
The Vatican Synod’s emphasis on “a listening Church” is part of ongoing efforts in the Archdiocese through the Archdiocesan Synod process, which began in 2019. This process included 30 prayer and listening events and discussion groups in 2019-2020, through which Bishop Hebda identified three areas of intervention for the local Church.
Catholics in the Archdiocese provided input on these priority areas through parish consultations with small parish groups for six sessions in 2021 and parish synod leadership team meetings in February and March 2022. This work culminate in the Assembly of the Archdiocesan Synod in St. Paul on June 3. -5, followed by the discernment by Bishop Hebda of a pastoral letter, expected in November, and a subsequent plan of action.
“What we have done here for our own local synod process has already laid an incredible foundation for the Vatican synod process that Pope Francis has called for,” Tadlock said. “What we’re doing now with this investigation builds on that foundation.”
Tadlock said she hopes the survey will draw participation from a wide range of Catholics, including those who attend daily Mass to those who no longer identify with the faith, and everyone in between. the two.
The survey option allows the local church to hear from people “who haven’t been to church in years, maybe they haven’t been since they made their first Communion. Or maybe they were hurt by someone in the Church, or they left because of unfortunate circumstances or because of pain or even betrayal,” Tadlock said.
“(For) the people who have left, it’s still their chance to say…how they think the Church can be better. It is important that they know that they are still considered members of the Church and that we still want to hear from them,” she added. “We still care about them and we still care about what they think. And we can only be better when we hear from all members of the Christian faithful.
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