More than 15,000 people in the UK have accessed the Catholic Church’s questionnaire on marriage and the family. British bishops were the first to go direct to the laity by making it available online, reports The Tablet.
The unprecedented consultative document, sent out in preparation for two forthcoming synods, has garnered huge interest around the world, both inside and outside the Church.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, said that of the 15,000 respondents, 11,500 had answered the question about their age, giving an insight into those responding to Rome’s request for information. Of the people filling in the form, 32 per cent were under 35, 42 per cent were 35-65, 16 per cent were over 65, and some 58 individuals were over the age of 85.
With another three weeks to go to complete the survey, the numbers of people already accessing the material online suggest enthusiasm for the exercise; in 2004 a survey on the family carried out in English and Wales elicited a total of 15,000 completed responses.
Cardinal Nichols said he sensed a different mood in the Church.'I have never before seen an urgency to listen to the experience of people. This moment shows Pope Francis has got respect for people and an abiding belief in people’s goodness,' he said.
But there was no evidence that church teaching would change after the survey of Catholics around the world. 'We are not going to be reshaping a policy; that is the business of the state. The Church is there to help us live properly within the teaching of the Church,' he said.