The Vatican is asking Catholics all across the world to provide input on some hot-button issues in a new questionnaire.
It's not just for those actively practicing the faith. Those who have left the Catholic church are also invited to take part in the survey.
It's called a Questionnaire on Marriage and Family. The Vatican is seeking this widespread input for a global meeting of Catholic bishops, which is happening next October. Church officials say widespread polling of Catholic input like this is unprecedented.
Not every diocese in the world is asking all of its Catholics to chime in, however. The Vatican left it up to church leaders in each diocese to disseminate the survey and get a broad opinion however they see fit.
In both the Archdiocese of Dubuque and Diocese of Davenport, which, together, cover all of eastern Iowa, leaders have decided to open the questionnaire up to any Catholic-- active or not.
Zach Little lives in Dubuque and is a practicing Catholic.
"I generally go to mass on Sundays," he said Wednesday afternoon, adding he's, "certainly not perfect, but I try to do my best."
Looking over the Questionnaire on Marriage and Family, he said he appreciates the opportunity to provide input.
"I think it's great," Little said. "I have never heard of it before, this sort of thing happening, and I think it's really interesting the Pope and the Vatican are reaching out to all Catholics to see their viewpoints."
At the Archdiocese of Dubuque Pastoral Center, Linda Manternach - director of the Family Life Office - said they've already received some 300 responses.
"Not all dioceses are doing this widespread of getting this input. There's a good number that are, but not all of them," she said.
The survey has some 40 short-answer questions divided between nine topics. Queries broach subjects ranging from prayer within the family and passing on the Catholic faith to same-sex unions, co-habitation before marriage, contraception and divorce.
"We know that a number of people have left the Catholic church because of a number of these reasons," Manternach said. "We want to know how it is that they were treated, what kind of response could we give them, how could we pastorally care for them."
Questionnaires aren't new to the Catholic church, Manternach said, but they're usually just for bishops and other high-ranking church leaders.
For this survey, Manternach said, "we want to have a wide perspective of what's going on out there and not just one or two people's experiences."
Whether someone answers all the questions or even just one, Manternach said the Archdiocese of Dubuque wants all the Catholic input it can get.
"I think that's really interesting and just a really cool thing that they're doing," Little said.
He added the survey is right in line with the relatively-new Pope Francis' image as an approachable and likeable man of the people.
"I think the general consensus is that he's a pretty exciting presence, and I'm just excited for the future of the church," Little said.
People can fill out a paper survey and send it in. Those were included in the Nov. 17 edition of the Archdiocese of Dubuque's newspaper the Witness.
The survey is also available online. The Archdiocese of Dubuque wants surveys completed by Dec. 10.
Catholics within the Archdiocese of Dubuque, which includes Dubuque, Black Hawk and Linn counties, can fill out the survey by clicking HERE. For more information on it, click HERE.
Catholics in the Diocese of Davenport, which includes Johnson County, can fill out the survey HERE or get more information HERE.
Tuesday, March 11 2014 7:03 PM EDT2014-03-11 23:03:21 GMT
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