Detroit survey separate from synod questionnaire

by Brian Roewe

NCR environment correspondent

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The archdiocese of Detroit is polling its parishioners, but at least for now, the effort is unrelated to the Vatican questionnaire that's part of the preparation for next year's synod on the family.

The Detroit Free Press reported Tuesday that the survey is the first conducted in the archdiocese in 15 years and is part of the "Together in Faith" pastoral planning initiative -- currently in its second phase -- that dates back to the early 2000s. The survey asks Detroit-area Catholics questions about parish life and issues in the church but avoids controversial topics of contraception, same-sex marriages, and female or married priests.

The poll opened Saturday (Nov. 3) and invites parishioners to respond by Sunday. That its timing coincided with reports that the Vatican requested broad consultation ahead of the October 2014 Synod of Bishops, which will focus on the theme of "Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization," is coincidental.

"It is unrelated," public relations director Joe Kohn told NCR.

Kohn said as of Thursday, the archdiocese had not received communication from the Vatican or the U.S. bishops' conference regarding the synod questionnaire. He declined to speculate how the archdiocese would collect information related to the synod and whether that would include another parishioner survey.

"All I can say is we will review whatever is asked of us by the Vatican," Kohn said, adding that it's typical for the Vatican to request some type of feedback before a synod, as it did before the 2012 synod on the new evangelization.

"Once we get that request from the Vatican, we'll assess how to gather the information that they're looking for," he said.

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