At a press conference Tuesday, the Vatican released the official preparatory document on the upcoming synod of bishops on the family, revealing key topics of the meeting's discussions.
“The document contains, as well as a general presentation on the matter, various essential Biblical and Magisterial quotations on the theme as well as a questionnaire on the main challenges regarding the family,” Cardinal Péter Erdo said Nov. 5.
Cardinal Erdo, who is the Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest in Ungheria, and was appointed as the new General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops by Pope Francis on Sept. 21, made the announcement at the conference earlier this morning.
The Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is slated to occur Oct. 5-19 of next year, and will explore the theme of “The pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.”
During the press conference, the cardinal explained that “In order to initiate the process of consultation,” an invitation has been sent out to circulate the document among diaconates and parishes within Dioceses to complete “with the aim of obtaining concrete and real data on the synodal theme.”
Amid the claims of some news organizations that the questionnaire is “a Vatican survey asking (Catholics') opinions on church teachings” – which has been presented to Catholics worldwide in order to consult on homosexual unions and divorced persons – Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi stressed that the questions “are not regarding the doctrinal position of the Church.”
The topics of the questions, which have been issued to the bishop’s in all of the world’s dioceses, have been announced and will center on the Diffusion of the Teachings on the Family in Sacred Scripture and the Church’s Magisterium, Marriage according to the Natural Law, and the Pastoral Care of the Family in Evangelization.
Other topics that the survey intends to address are the Pastoral Care in Certain Difficult Marital Situations, the Union of Persons of the Same Sex, the Education of Children in Irregular Marriages, the Openness of the Married Couple to Life, and the Relationship between the Family and the Person.
Due to the limited time-frame of the Synod preparations, Cardinal Erdo announced the request that all entities who have been consulted on the questions “have been required to send their answers to the General Secretariat by the end of January of next year.”
A meeting of the Consistory of the Secretariat, a group of around 15 clergy who are in charge of preparations for the next assembly, is scheduled to occur in the month of February in order to analyze the questionnaire responses.