Organisers say initiative 'is not a survey or poll of Catholic opinion'

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 the conference said any questionnaire results will remain private.

Mgr Patrick Powers, conference general secretary, stressed that the questionnaire – slightly rearranged and reworded from a questionnaire put out by the Vatican – is not a survey or poll of Catholic opinion, but a way for bishops to share pastoral insights with Pope Francis and to help bishops plan for their dioceses.

In a statement that accompanied the questionnaire, Mgr Powers said individual dioceses could decide whom to consult and whether to focus on certain questions. He also asked that responses be forwarded to the bishops’ conference, so it could pass them on to the general secretariat of the synod of bishops in Rome.

After last October’s extraordinary synod of bishops on the family, the Vatican sent the world’s bishops’ conferences a list of 46 questions on a range of topics, including matters of marriage and sexuality. Those questions, combined with the final report of the 2014 assembly, comprise a preparatory document, known as the lineamenta, or outline or this October’s synod.

The Canadian bishops reworked the order of the Vatican questions and revised 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”.