With little more than a month to go before reports are due in Rome, more than half of U.S. dioceses have asked Catholics in their regions for input for the upcoming ordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican in October.
A NCR investigation of websites and online publications for 33 Latin-rite archdioceses and 145 Latin-rite dioceses, conducted Thursday and Friday, found that roughly 52 percent of them (93) have begun to gather information in some capacity. For the remaining 85 dioceses, it was unclear how or if they were collecting responses within their borders.
Almost two-thirds of U.S. archdioceses (21) have collected information for the synod that will address areas related to contemporary marriage and family life, with 17 of them offering online surveys. For dioceses, about half (72) had sought out responses, with 48 of them using online forms.
A similar review of the two Eastern Rite Archeparchies and 15 Eastern Rite Eparchies that are members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops found no information about how to contribute to the October 2015 synod.
[See the chart below for a breakdown of each diocese.]
In 2013, Pope Francis initiated a two-year churchwide consultation on the family that included an extraordinary Synod of Bishops, which met at the Vatican in October 2014, and an ordinary Synod of Bishops, which will meet Oct. 4-25 at the Vatican and focus on the theme, "The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World."
In December, the Vatican sent the world's bishops' conferences the final report of the 2014 assembly and a list of 46 questions on a range of topics, including matters of marriage and sexuality. Those questions and the report make up a working document, known as the lineamenta, for the next Synod of Bishops.
The U.S. bishops' conference staff, which will compile the U.S. report on these consultations and send it to the Vatican by April, have asked dioceses to submit reports to them no later than March 20.
So far, 18 dioceses have stopped collecting information. Another 11 will stop accepting submissions by the end of February.
When the synod opens Oct. 4, as many as six bishops overseeing dioceses could represent U.S. Catholics at the meetings, and two more are designated as alternates.
Of those eight, NCR found clear, public information about how six of them are gathering input in some fashion: Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky.; Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput; Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez; San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone (who is an alternate); Cardinals Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C.; and Timothy Dolan of New York. Wuerl and Dolan are members of the Ordinary Council of the Synod of Bishops.
It was unclear how Galveston-Houston Cardinal Daniel DiNardo and Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich, an alternate, were gathering information in their respective archdioceses.
The Boston archdiocese -- whose Cardinal Sean O'Malley isn't a synod delegate but is a member of the pope's Council of Cardinals -- offered a six-question summary survey and a series of videos reviewing the various themes the synod will discuss. The archdiocese had five informational sessions on the synod, but historic snowfall led to the cancellation of two.
Other notable archdioceses without clear, online evidence of seeking parish-level input included Atlanta, Baltimore and Miami.
While some dioceses elected not to invite general participation, they explained how they would complete their report. In the Grand Rapids, Mich., diocese, for example, an announcement on its website stated the lineamenta questionnaire "has been provided to those in the diocese serving in roles involving pastoral care and leadership" and asked that they respond by March 4.
In its survey of diocesan websites, NCR checked each one's homepage, family life and/or marriage sections, press releases and diocesan publications since the beginning of the year, in addition to searching the sites for the term "synod."
Describing the 46-item lineamenta -- longer than last year's 39-item questionnaire -- as "a lengthy series of questions," the Charlotte, N.C., diocese suggested parishioners allot two hours to read the document and complete the essay-style online survey.
Some dioceses, such as Denver; Baton Rouge, La.; Crookston, Minn.; and Oakland, Calif., have offered a scaled-down version of the 46 questions. The Juneau, Alaska, diocese provided an "annotated" version, adding context and explanations to each question. The St. Louis archdiocese added similar "in other words" explanations to accompany several of the questions. The diocese of Trenton, N.J., offered both the full survey and a simplified 11-question version.
As in Trenton, the other four New Jersey dioceses will carry out Pope Francis' direction for further dialogue by inviting laity to attend listening sessions. The diocese of Metuchen, N.J., will hold two listening sessions March 4 in English and Spanish, while the archdiocese of Newark will offer nine "Listen and Discuss" sessions, including three in Spanish.
Listening sessions were the preferred method of input in Tucson, Ariz., as well, where Bishop Gerald Kicanas held four two-hour weekend meetings with parishioners, the last one taking place Feb. 15. In Scranton, Pa., the diocese, in addition to providing an online survey, offered resources for parishes and organizations to lead their own meetings.
Thirty-one dioceses offered the survey or the lineamenta in both English and Spanish; the San Jose, Calif., diocese also provided a Vietnamese version.
Of the dioceses that made the synod questionnaire publicly available, with two exceptions, no diocese specified how or if it intended to relay the information it received back to the local church or if the bishop would respond to the information received.
One exception was the Stockton, Calif., diocese, which has already provided a detailed picture of its responses, gathered through a consultation among pastors and their parish councils.
More than half of the respondents were 55 years or older, nearly two-thirds were female and about 70 percent were married. Some topics with overwhelming opposition included gay civil ceremonies -- with more than half of respondents against it -- and marriages taking place in the Catholic church, with 77 percent saying this was very important to them. The issues of birth control, infertility treatment, and the effectiveness of church teaching on family life all had mixed answers, almost equally split.
As reported earlier, the priest collecting and data from the surveys in the Oakland diocese will return a report back to parishes with suggestions on how to address areas of concern.
NCR will continue to collect data on consultations in individual dioceses. If you have information from your locale, send it to email@example.com.
[Contributing to this report were NCR editor Dennis Coday (firstname.lastname@example.org), staff writer Brian Roewe (email@example.com), and Bertelsen interns Mick Forgey (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Soli Salgado (email@example.com).]
|Date Invited||Deadline||Online Survey||Details||Spanish||Other information|
|Archdioceses in the U.S.|
|Anchorage, Alaska||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Atlanta||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Baltimore||?||?||?||?||Archbishop's Jan. 8 column promises to "share information and communicate about" the synod.|
|Boston||1/29/2015||N/A||Yes||Invitation to participate||Asks for emailed replies to full survey or 6-question summary; provides videos on doc themes, held 5 info sessions|
|Chicago**||?||?||No||Link to synod documents and reflections||No||Consulting AD councils and pastors; offers reflections resource supplement for laity|
|Cincinnati||?||3/1/2015||Yes||Invitation to participate||No|
|Denver||2/9/2015||3/2/2015||Yes||Link to invite on diocesan news site||No||38 multiple choice; also gathering feedback from those serving families (priests, religious orders, academia)|
|Detroit||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Dubuque, Iowa||?||Yes||Link to synod background and survey||--|
|Galveston-Houston, Texas**||?||3/20/2015||Yes||Link to synod background and survey||Y||Estimates 45-90 minutes to complete|
|Indianapolis||3/5/2015||Yes||Link to synod background and survey||Yes|
|Hartford, Conn.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Kansas City, Kan.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Los Angeles||?||3/6/2015||Yes||Newspaper article about the consultation||Yes|
|Louisville, Ky.||?||3/7/0105||Yes||Take the online questionnaire||Yes||Other consultations announced.|
|Miami||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Milwaukee||2/17/2015||3/1/2015||Yes||links to full, simplified questionnaires.||No||Also links to full lineamenta.|
|Mobile, Ala.||1/10/2015||2/20/2015||No||PDF forms to download, return by mail.||No|
|New Orleans||2/16/2015||?||No||Link to synod background and survey||No|
|New York City||?||?||Yes||Synod Questions for the Faithful||Coming soon||6 demographic questions. 13 topic questions.|
|Newark, N.J.||?||?||No||PDF invites laity to listen and discuss sessions.||Yes|
|Oklahoma City||?||3/1/2015||Yes||Link to synod survey||No|
|Omaha, Neb.||2/6/2015||2/20/2015||Yes||Online questions available||--||Newspaper announcement|
|Philadelphia||1/29/2015||3/9/2015||Yes||Instrument to engage local input||Yes|
|Portland, Ore.||?||3/9/2015||No||Downloadable PDF of 14 questions||Yes||Ask parishioners to return questionnaires to parish priest|
|San Antonio, Texas||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|San Francisco*||1/28/2015||3/6/2015||Yes||Survey for the Synod of Families||Yes||Newspaper story about consultation|
|Santa Fe, N.M.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Seattle||?||3/9/2015||Yes||Link to synod background and survey||No||Asked for a notice on survey be placed in parish bulletins|
|St. Louis||?||3/1/2015||Yes||Link to synod background and survey||Yes||46 questions, some offering "in other words" explanations of Vatican text|
|St. Paul-Minneapolis||?||3/10/2015||Yes||Link to synod background and survey||No||Survey broken into 58 questions; also respond via email, mail, or 1 of 5 listening sessions|
|Military Services||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Washington, D.C.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Date Invited||Deadline||Online Survey||Details||Spanish||Other information|
|Dioceses in the U.S.|
|Albany, N.Y.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Alexandria, La.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Allentown, Pa.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Altoona-Johnstown, Pa.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Amarillo, Texas||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Arlington, Va.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Austin, Texas||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Baker, Ore.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Baton Rouge, La.||?||2/27/2015||Yes||Link to synod survey||No||18 questions divided into eight topics|
|Beaumont, Texas||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Belleville, Ill.||1/17/2015||?||Yes||Invitation in diocesan newspaper||--|
|Biloxi, Miss.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Birmingham, Ala.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Bismarck, N.D.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Boise, Idaho||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Bridgeport, Conn.||?||?||?||?||in midst of diocesan synod|
|Brooklyn, N.Y.||2/18/2015||?||Yes||Invitation to survey on diocesan website||No||38 questions on four themes|
|Brownsville, Texas||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Buffalo, N.Y.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Burlington, Vt.||2/4/2015||early March||Yes||Link to synod survey||No|
|Camden, N.J.||2/22/2015||?||Yes||Yes||Devoting three weeks to listening sessions, each on a different theme, 20+ parish sessions so far scheduled|
|Charleston, S.C.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Charlotte, N.C.||?||2/27/2015||Yes||Link to synod background and survey||No||Estimates it will take two hours to complete|
|Cheyenne, Wyo.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Cleveland||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Colorado Springs, Colo.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Columbus, Ohio||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Corpus Christi, Texas||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Covington, Ky.||January||2/27/2015||No||Letter from vicar general||No||Holding meetings in five deaneries, parishioners can respond in person or in writing via mail|
|Crookston, Minn.||?||3/1/2015||Yes||Link to synod background and survey||No||20 multiple-choice questions in three sections|
|Dallas||1/26/2015||2/26/2015||Yes||Link to synod background and survey||Yes||Announcement made in parishes|
|Davenport, Iowa||?||2/13/2015||No||Link to diocesan homepage||No||Asked for emailed responses; collecting response from pastoral council, presbyterial council, tribunal, other organizations|
|Des Moines, Iowa||?||?||Yes||Link to synod background and survey||No||48 questions in three parts|
|Dodge City, Kan.||?||2/27/2015||No||Link to diocesan homepage||Yes||Asks parishioners to email responses to all or some of Vatican questions|
|Duluth, Minn.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|El Paso, Texas||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Erie, Pa.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Evansville, Ind.||1/26/2015||2/8/2015||Yes||Only found a link in the Catholic community newspaper, not the diocese site.|
|Fairbanks, Alaska||3/2/2015||No||Link to information||--||PDF to be mailed|
|Fall River, Mass.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Fargo, N.D.||3/10/2015||No||Link to synod information||--||No formal survey offered; provided the Vatican's lineamenta and asked for feedback/reflections to be emailed|
|Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind.||1/25/2015||2/25/2015||Yes||Input sought from faithful of the diocese||--||Simplified to 16 questions. Questions printed in diocesan newspaper.|
|Fort Worth, Texas||3/15/2015||Yes||Link to synod and survey||--|
|Fresno, Calif.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Gallup, N.M.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Gary, Ind.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Gaylord, Mich.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Grand Island, Neb.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Grand Rapids, Mich.||?||3/4/2015||No||Preparatory questionnaire for 2015 family synod||--||Announcement of questionnaire for only.|
|Great Falls-Billings, Mont.||1/23/2015||3/1/2015||No||Letter from bishop to those on mailing list; couldn't find anything online||Not a formal survey -- letter from bishop asking for reflections|
|Green Bay, Wis.||2/28/2015||Yes||Link to survey||Yes|
|Greensburg, Pa.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Harrisburg, Pa.||3/5/2015||Yes||Link to Relatio Synodi and questionnaire||--|
|Helena, Mont.||3/6/2015||Yes||Link to info and survey||Yes||Survey requires a password|
|Honolulu||2/16/2015||3/2/2015||Yes||Link to lineamenta and survey||Yes|
|Houma-Thibodaux, La.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Jackson, Miss.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Jefferson City, Mo.||?||?||Yes||Yes||Letter from bishop said it will have its own tab on the diocese website by the end of February. Will be narrowed down to 10 questions.|
|Joliet, Ill.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Juneau, Alaska||1/14/2015||3/5/2015||No||Invitation to participate in Vatican synod survey on the family||--||Forms to download and return by mail|
|Kalamazoo, Mich.||2/27/2015||No||Link to meeting info and form||Yes||Responses can be done either by filling out form or attending meetings.|
|Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo.***||03/01/2015||03/19/2015||Yes||Link to synod survey||No||Ask respondents to first rank synod themes on importance and support, then allows for feedback on synod's 46 questions|
|Knoxville, Tenn.||Yes||Found link through Google search, but not on diocese's website|
|La Crosse, Wis.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Lafayette, Ind.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Lafayette, La.||3/6/2015||Yes||Link to info and three-part survey||--|
|Lake Charles, La.||2/24/2015||No||Link to forum info||--||No written survey; open forum|
|Lansing, Mich.||?||2/19/2015||Yes||Link to online questionnaire (link corrected)||No||Parishes assign specific questions, but allowed to answer any others|
|Laredo, Texas||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Las Cruces, N.M.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Las Vegas||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Lexington, Ky.||?||3/12/2015||No||PDF of questionnaire||No|
|Lincoln, Neb.||2/10/2015||?||Yes||Online questionnaire||No|
|Little Rock, Ark.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Lubbock, Texas||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Madison, Wis.||?||?||No||Link to synod survey and background||No|
|Manchester, N.H.||?||?||No||PDF of simplified questionnaire||No|
|Marquette, Mich.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Memphis, Tenn.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Metuchen, N.J.||3/2/2015||Yes||Hosting listening sessions.||Yes||Listening session offered twice on March 4, in English and Spanish. Also accepting online answers. "We want to hear from YOU!"|
|Monterey, Calif.||2/5/2015||3/6/2015||Yes||Online surveys, full and abridged versions.||Yes|
|Nashville, Tenn.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|New Ulm, Minn.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Norwich, Conn.||?||2/20/2015||No||Link to full questionnaire, to return by mail.||Yes|
|Oakland, Calif.||2/9/2015||2/23/2015||Yes||Link to invite in diocesan newspaper||Yes||Simplified to 21 questions|
|Ogdensburg, N.Y.||?||?||Yes||Online questionnaire, requires login.||No|
|Orange, Calif.||?||3/13/2015||Yes||Online questionnaire||No|
|Orlando, Fla.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Owensboro, Ky.||?||2/20/2015||Yes||Full/abridged questionnaires, town hall meetings.||Yes|
|Palm Beach, Fla.||?||3/2/2015||Yes||Online questionnaire||No|
|Paterson, N.J.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Pensacola-Tallahassee, Fla.||2/20/2015||3/15/2015||No||Form to print and return by mail||No|
|Peoria, Ill.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Phoenix||2/3/2015||2/22/2015||Yes||Link to synod background and survey||Yes|
|Pittsburgh||2/6/2015||2/20/2015||Yes||Link to synod background and survey||No|
|Portland, Maine||?||3/5/2015||Yes||Invitation to participate in online survey||Yes|
|Providence, R.I.||2/17/2015||2/25/2015||Yes||Online questionnaire.||Yes|
|Pueblo, Colo.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Raleigh, N.C.||1/28/2015||2/15/2015||Yes||Link to synod background and survey||Yes||Individuals or groups can respond|
|Rapid City, S.D.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Reno, Nev.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Richmond, Va.||?||3/2/2015||Yes||link to synod background and survey||No||22 short-answer questions|
|Rochester, N.Y.||1/14/2015||3/1/2015||Yes||Link to invite in diocesan newspaper||No||Priests, pastoral administrators or members of a parish staff emailed separate survey link|
|Rockford, Ill.||?||2/13/2015||Yes||link to synod background and survey||Yes|
|Rockville Centre, N.Y.||?||3/13/2015||No||Link to synod background||Full questionnaire posted, with instructions to respond only by email, with name and parish|
|Sacramento, Calif.||?||3/1/2015||No||Link to synod background and PDF||No||Form to download and return by email.|
|Saginaw, Mich.||?||3/4/2015||Yes||link to synod background and survey||No||Also offers PDF forms to download and return by mail|
|Salina, Kan.||?||2/20/2015||No||Story in diocesan newspaper. Scroll down the page until you see headline: "Church wants input ..."||No||Link removed, per deadline. Form to download and return by mail.|
|Salt Lake City||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|San Angelo, Texas||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|San Bernardino, Calif.||?||2/20/2015||Yes||Link to synod background and survey||Yes|
|San Diego||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|San Jose, Calif.||2/17/2015||3/12/2015||Yes||Link to synod background and survey||Yes||Also offered in Vietnamese|
|Santa Rosa, Calif.||January||3/9/2015||No||Link to background info and PDF survey||Yes||Offers PDF forms to download and return by mail|
|Savannah, Ga.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Scranton, Pa.||1/29/2015||3/6/2015||Yes||Link to synod background and survey||Yes||provided resources for group and org input|
|Shreveport, La.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Sioux City, Iowa||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Sioux Falls, S.D.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Springfield, Ill.||2/9/0205||3/1/2015||Yes||Link to info and survey||No|
|Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Mo.||?||?||?||?||?||?|
|St. Augustine, Fla.||?||?||?||?||?||?|
|St. Cloud, Minn.||3/4/2015||Yes||Link to info and survey||--|
|St. Petersburg, Fla.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|St. Thomas, Virgin Islands||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Steubenville, Ohio||2/20/2015||Yes||Link to info and survey||--||Provided a paraphrased version of 16 questions and the option to fill out all 46 questions|
|Stockton, Calif.||No||Priests consulted various parish councils in February|
|Superior, Wis.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Syracuse, N.Y.||?||2/27/2015||No||Link to synod background and survey||No||Parishes invited to download PDF versions, respond and return their surveys to vicar general.|
|Toledo, Ohio||?||3/6/2015||Yes||Link to synod background and survey||No|
|Trenton, N.J.||?||3/4/2015||Yes||Link to synod background and survey||Yes||Can also download survey and mail/email responses; offers simplified 11-question version|
|Tucson, Ariz.||mid-January||2/15/2015||No||Link to bishop's memo||n/a||Held four two-hour weekend listening sessions (mid-Jan thru mid-Feb) that will be used to make report|
|Tulsa, Okla.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Tyler, Texas||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Venice, Fla||?||2/20/2015||No||Instructions for those wanting to provide input||Yes||No forms available. Input must be mailed or emailed|
|Victoria, Texas||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Wheeling-Charleston, W.Va.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Wichita, Kan.||?||2/20/2015||Yes||Link to synod background and survey||Yes||Answer some or all of 47 questions|
|Wilmington, Del.||?||?||No||Link to synod background||No||Invites parishes to hold discussion sessions during the winter.|
|Winona, Minn.||?||3/13/2015||Yes||Survey link on Life, Marriage, Family webpage|
|Worcester, Mass.||?||?||Yes||Link to Bishop's Office invitation||No||PDF forms also available|
|Yakima, Wash.||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Youngstown, Ohio||?||?||?||?||no info found|
*updated Feb. 24.
** updated March 2.
*** updated March 5.
|Date Invited||Deadline||Online Survey||Details||Spanish||Other information|
|Eastern Rite Archeparchies|
|Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia (Pennsylvania)||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania)||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Eastern Rite Eparchies|
|Youngstown, Ohio||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Diocese of Chicago (Illinois)||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Eparchy of St. George in Canton for the Romanians (Ohio)||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Stamford (Connecticut)||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic (New Jersey)||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Holy Protection of Mary Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Phoenix (Arizona)||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Eparchy of Our Lady of Deliverance Syriac Catholic Diocese in the U.S. and Canada (New Jersey)||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Chaldean Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle of Detroit (Michigan)||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Chaldean Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle, San Diego (California)||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Eparchy of Parma, Ohio (Ruthenian)||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn (New York)||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Eparchy of Our Lady of Nareg in New York of Armenian Catholics||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Eparchy of Newton, Our Lady of the Annunciation, Boston (Melkite Greek)(Massachusetts)||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Eparchy of St. Nicholas in Chicago for Ukrainians (Illinois)||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon (Maronite)||?||?||?||?||no info found|
|Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Josaphat, Parma (Ohio)||?||?||?||?||no info found|