How can the Church serve your family?

The archbishop (and pope) want to know

To help prepare for his October meeting with bishops from all over the world, Pope Francis has asked for input from all Catholics, including those of the Archdiocese of Denver. In response, the archdiocese has designed an online questionnaire available for all Catholics of northern Colorado to complete from now through March 2.

“The Vatican made it clear they wanted to have the widest consultation possible,” explained David Uebbing, chancellor. “To do that, we designed a questionnaire that tries to assess the needs families have, using clear, short questions.”

The Oct. 4-25 meeting—known as an ordinary general assembly of the synod—will be the second and larger of two such Vatican gatherings to take place over the course of a year. Like its precursor, the focus of the October 2014 extraordinary synod will be the family, specifically “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and the modern world.”

“The questionnaire will help improve the Church’s ministry on a wide range of topics,” Uebbing said, “like providing support for parents, strengthening family relationships, communication and finances.”

The 38-question, multiple-choice questionnaire addresses three main areas: one’s personal experience of family life, how parish life impacts the family, and how one is living their faith in “the world.” Questions include: What constitutes the greatest challenge to families? Which topics would you like to hear more about in homilies? How many people at work are aware of your faith? and Does your family pray together? It concludes with an open-ended question: How could the Church best help foster stronger, more faithful families?

The questions were developed by a team of members from the Archbishop’s Office, the Communications Office, and the Office of Evangelization and Family Life Ministries.

“Listening and input has always been a key part of the synod,” said Kevin Knight, sacramental preparation and education specialist for the archdiocese, and a member of the team. “It’s a worldwide effort.”

Archbishop Samuel Aquila will also use the information to better serve his flock in Colorado, according to Uebbing.

“The archbishop really wants to use as many communication tools as he can to expand his ministry to every part of the archdiocese,” he said.

In addition to input from individual families, the archbishop will gather feedback from those who serve families such as priests, religious orders, ecclesial movements, and academic institutions. Prior to the 2014 synod, Archbishop Aquila collected similar information from the head of each deanery, or geographic region, of the archdiocese.

Once the information is received from Catholics in northern Colorado, it will be compiled into a report by Archbishop Aquila, and then delivered to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. In turn, the USCCB will submit a report to the Vatican that summarizes the findings from the entire country.

This feedback of the universal Church will be used to craft a working document that will help guide the bishops’ discussions at the synod. There an estimated 557,000 Catholics in the Archdiocese of Denver, 76 million in the U.S., and 1.2 billion worldwide.

Pope Francis has asked all families to support the synod in prayer, saying, “May we all, then, pray together so that through these events the Church will undertake a true journey of discernment and adopt the necessary pastoral means to help families face their present challenges with the light and strength that comes from the Gospel.”

To participate in the archdiocese’s questionnaire, visit www.archden.org/questionnaire before March 2.

Questionnaire on family life
Complete online Feb. 9-March 2 here.

COMING UP: Q&A: USCCB clarifies intent behind bishops’ Eucharist document

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Last week, the U.S. bishop concluded their annual Spring meeting, during which much about the Church in the U.S was discussed. In particular, the bishops voted to draft a document on the meaning of Eucharistic life in the Church, which was approved by an overwhelming majority.

Since then, speculation about the nature of the document has run rampant, the chief of which is that it was drafted specifically to instigate a policy aimed directly at Catholic politicians and public figures whose outward political expressions and policy enactment do not align with Church teaching.

The USCCB has issued a brief Q&A clarifying the intent of the document, and they have emphasized that “the question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot.”

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life,” the USCCB said. “The importance of nurturing an ever
deeper understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist in our lives is not a new topic for the bishops. The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.”

Below are a few commonly asked questions about last week’s meeting and the document on the Eucharist.

Why are the bishops doing this now?

For some time now, a major concern of the bishops has been the declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful. This was a deep enough concern that the theme of the bishops’ strategic plan for 2021-2024 is Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope. This important document on the Eucharist will serve as a foundation for the multi-year Eucharistic Revival Project, a major national effort to reignite Eucharistic faith in our country. It was clear from the intensity and passion expressed in the individual interventions made by the bishops during last week’s meeting that each bishop deeply loves the Eucharist.

Did the bishops vote to ban politicians from receiving Holy Communion?

No, this was not up for vote or debate. The bishops made no decision about barring anyone from receiving Holy Communion. Each Catholic — regardless of whether they hold public office or not — is called to continual conversion, and the U.S. bishops have repeatedly emphasized the obligation of all Catholics to support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.

Are the bishops going to issue a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians?

No. There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians. The intent is to present a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings to bring heightened awareness among the faithful of how the Eucharist can transform our lives and bring us closer to our creator and the life he wants for us.

Did the Vatican tell the bishops not to move forward on drafting the document?

No. The Holy See did encourage the bishops to engage in dialogue and broad consultation. Last week’s meeting was the first part of that process. It is important to note that collaboration and consultation among the bishops will be key in the drafting of this document.


Featured photo by Eric Mok on Unsplash