Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Curia belatedly seeks online reply to Vatican questionnaire on family

http://www.maltadiocese.org/static/css/logo.pngThe Maltese Curia has woken up to a call from Pope Francis to seek a wide public consultation on challenges facing Maltese families, with an online poll that will however only take place over the next 20 days.

Earlier this week, MaltaToday asked the Curia whether it intended publishing the questionnaire, which is part of a wider document in preparation for the 2014 and 2015 Synods for bishops that will discuss the pastoral challenges of the family.

Three days later, the Curia announced it had uploaded the questionnaire on its site.

Given the Christmas holidays, the 20-day time window to gather input from Catholics is bound to be shorter due to the festivities. 

Priests such as Colin Apap, a regulator contributor in the press and a radio presenter, himself said he was "confused" as to why the Maltese Catholic Church had not made available the questionnaire.

The questionnaire was diffused back in October when Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, the Vatican official overseeing the process, told bishops worldwide to prepare for next year's meeting by distributing a questionnaire on family topics "as widely as possible to deaneries and parishes so that input from local sources can be received."

The consultation is being taken in preparation for a 2014 Vatican meeting of Catholic bishops from around the world on issues of family life. 

Amongst the questions the Vatican wants asked, for example, is whether the process of annulling marriages should be made simpler.

The Synod office has set 31 January 2014 as the deadline for conferences to submit responses. 

Respondents to the Maltese questionnaire must give their replies in by 31 December.

Baldisseri said once his office receives the global responses, it will set up a temporary committee of experts to examine and summarize the material sent in. 

"As soon as we receive the summary responses prepared by the episcopal conferences, an ad hoc group of experts, chosen by our office, will have the task of examining these responses and making a presentation which is to be a concise, faithful summary of all the responses," he said.

But it seems not every diocese has been quick at diffusing the questionnaire.

The American newspaper National Catholic Reporter reprinted the document as a pullout in the centre of its November-December issue, after it was sent the document "by someone who feared the questionnaire from the Vatican about next year's Synod of Bishops on the family wouldn't get as wide a distribution as intended, at least in the United States."

The bishops of England and Wales put the questionnaire online for all to examine and respond to.  

Malta has now followed suit.

The Maltese bishops have commissioned its think-tank Discern to carry out the consultation.

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