Bishops Asked to Assess Marriage, Family Life Ahead of 2014 Synod
By Penny Wiegert, Editor
November 7, 2013

DIOCESE—Bishop David J. Malloy and bishops from around the world are being asked to look at the situation of families under their care and at how effective pastoral and educational programs have been at promoting church teaching on sexuality, marriage and family life.

The preparatory document for the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family, which will be held in October 2014, ends with 38 questions about how church teaching is promoted, how well it is accepted and ways in which modern people and societies challenge the Catholic view of marriage and family.

Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the synod, asked bishops to distribute the document and questionnaire “as widely as possible” to deaneries and parishes, summarize the responses and send them to the Vatican by the end of January. 

Bishops in the United States received the request on Oct. 30 and have been asked by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, to submit their summaries to the conference no later than Dec. 31. The USCCB will then send the U.S. responses as a whole to the Holy See.

To assist the Synod of Bishops in gathering this information, Bishop Malloy has sent the document to all deans, priests and the diocesan pastoral council for study and response.

Diocesan Catholics can find the document on the Diocese of Rockford’s website with instructions individual responses.

In the online instructions, diocesan Catholics are asked to “carefully read the body of the preparatory document”  before answering any of the 38 questions contained in the nine sections. People wishing to submit responses need not answer all the questions and are asked to summarize the questions they feel qualified to answer.

Distributing an outline of the chosen topic and related questions, seeking responses from bishops, religious orders and interested Catholic groups is a normal part of the preparation for a synod. Archbishop Baldisseri, encouraging even wider consultation, did not specify how bishops should seek input.

The extraordinary synod on “pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelization” was convoked by Pope Francis for Oct. 5-19 and will bring together presidents of bishops’ conferences, the heads of Eastern Catholic churches and the heads of Vatican offices to describe the current situation and “to collect the bishops’ experiences and proposals in proclaiming and living the Gospel of the family in a credible manner,” the document says.

A second gathering, a world Synod of Bishops on the family, will be held in 2015 “to seek working guidelines in the pastoral care of the person and the family,” it said.

“Vast expectations exist concerning the decisions which are to be made pastorally regarding the family,” the document says.

“A reflection on these issues by the Synod of Bishops, in addition to it being much needed and urgent, is a dutiful expression of charity towards those entrusted to the Bishops’ care and the entire human family,” it said.

Instructions to respond can be found at The full preparatory document in English is posted at

In Español