Catholics across the world are being asked for their views on contraception, same-sex unions and communion for divorced and remarried couples, reports The Tablet and SMH.
In preparation for next year's Extraordinary Synod on the Family, which Pope Francis announced earlier this month, the Vatican has sent a questionnaire to the world's bishops to disseminate among priests and people.
The responses to the questionnaire will be analysed as part of the preparation for the synod, to take place from 5 to 19 October 2014 on the theme "Pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelisation".
The questions, which were sent out by Italian Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, cover some of the most contentious issues in Church. The questionnaire asks what kinds of questions divorced and remarried couples ask about the sacraments and whether a simplification of the annulment process could help "solving the problems of the persons involved".
The Secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference secretary, Fr Brian Lucas, said the questionnaire had already gone to Australian bishops, who will consult within their dioceses, reports the SMH. It covers areas that have sharply divided the church in the West, including same-sex unions, how the church treats people who have separated or remarried, and encouraging ''a more open attitude'' to having children.
Other global concerns include polygamy, dowries being seen as the ''purchase price'' of the woman, surrogate mothers, migration and pluralism.
Father Lucas said the survey, requested for next year's meeting of the world's bishops, was not unprecedented - previous synods had also consulted widely. Any Catholic who wanted to contribute could do so.