Via Jimmy Akin’s blog:
Recently I was contacted by the Vatican’s department of communications and asked to help gather online input to be submitted to the upcoming Synod of Bishops.
They provided me with a link to an online survey, and they are interested in hearing from a wide range of people who may or may not be active Catholics.
If you would like to share your thoughts on various matters with the Vatican, here is the link. The deadline is August 15.
I admire Jimmy’s restraint in passing this along without comment. I was expecting to cringe my way through a survey from the Vatican’s department of communications. But wow just wow.
Going through the questions, there was page after page of no good choices in the multiple selections to choose from. I felt like I was being corralled to answer questions with the answer they wanted.
Reading about people who have left the Church I constantly hear complaints about “Unclear or poorly time communication.” It seems to be such a common thread I hear on Catholic radio where people call in saying they would be Catholic if it weren’t for “Unclear or poorly time communication.” Oh wait, that is never a reason I have heard.
This list of nine reasons has some reasons that people actually use, but two of them are basically duplicates. They left off some of the more common ones.
St. Thomas Aquinas offered two objections to the existence of God. The ability of science to answer questions and the problem of evil. The view of science now trumping religion as a form of ignorance is very prevalent among the “nones”. The problem of evil is the underpinning of many other reasons. I have also seen prevalent how personal interactions with a church and people in it have often played more of a part than doctrine.
Still, this is a complex question and often not sorted down to a single reason.
This was the question that made my jaw drop. As JD Flynn quipped ‘How come none of the answers are “salvific?”’ I was looking for “None of the above.” All of the questions seem crafted for a view of the Church very individualistically. Ego-driven where the relationship to the Church is “What are you doing for me now?” Why aren’t you conforming to me? No sense of the community of believers, the kingdom of God, and the Mystical Body of Christ.
If I used their methodology to do a survey on their survey.
- In your opinion, which of these attributes best define the survey from the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communications.
Choose 3 options.
[F] Full of leading questions/choices
[G] Seriously was that a real survey?
Of course, there were questions and answers using “accompaniment” and LGBTQI related.
One refrain seemed to me to be:
In your opinion, what should the Church do?
Pick 1 option.
[A] Change doctrine now to fit the times.
[B] Change doctrine immediately to conform to the modern world
[C] Instantaneously change doctrine to be more inclusive.
[D] Swiftly rewrite doctrine to on the nature of the human person to conform to societal fads.
Those itching ears aren’t going to scratch themselves.
The theme is surrender to the world, not engagement.
Still, this did get me thinking about what questions a survey that had a better understanding of the nature of the Church would ask. This would be a very difficult task to craft such questions and be accessible to everyone as this survey wanted to be.
The phrase “All hands on deck” was one familiar to me in the Navy for an emergency situation and I see the current state of the Church as an “All hands on deck” one. Fewer and fewer people going to Mass. Fewer marriages, fewer baptisms, and pretty much every metric to try to measure a health Church are down. Also considering the general plunge in the number of priests and those in religious life.
I know I have found myself pondering what I would suggest to “fix” the Church. If only they did this and that specific thing! Too easy to ride your hobby horses right into the Sanctuary. Too many suggestions fall into the single cause fallacy. Like a post starting “One simple trick.” The challenges facing us are complex and daunting. I just know that agenda-driven surveys are not the answer.
Often news of the Church in the world is more like news of the world in the Church.
It’s to feel the contemporary situation at the ultimate level. I think that the Church is the only thing that is going to make the terrible world we are coming to endurable; the only thing that makes the Church endurable is that it is somehow the body of Christ and that on this we are fed. It seems to be a fact that you have to suffer as much from the Church as for it but if you believe in the divinity of Christ, you have to cherish the world at the same time that you struggle to endure it. 
Sometimes I find the awkwardness of the Vatican to both drive me to laughter and then to my knees in prayer.
- Flannery, O’Connor: “The Habit of Being” ↩