MARCH 12, 2015
My response to the CCBI Questionnaire
INSTEAD OF CIRCLING THE SELECTED ANSWERS, I HAVE HIGHLIGHTED THEM IN YELLOW COLOUR
Family Synod 2015 – Preliminary Questionnaire
Pope Francis has asked the faithful to suggest different ways in which the Church can provide better pastoral care to the families. This questionnaire has been designed to gather your opinion about solutions to the challenges that our families face today. At the end of the questionnaire space has been provided for you to add any issue that you feel has not been addressed.
Please circle the appropriate answer for each question.
Legend: Yes (Y), No (N), or Don’t Know (DK).
A. How can the Church foster a family spirituality?
1. By ensuring that the parish team visits families on a regular basis. Y N DK
2. By training the families to include family experiences in their prayer. Y N DK
3. By organizing Family/couple retreats so they know Christian marriage corresponds to plan of God. Y N DK
4. By encouraging families to participate in support groups (Marriage Encounter, SCC/BCC etc.) Y N DK
5. By interpreting the Bible and Church Teachings in relation to everyday family experiences. Y N DK
6. By encouraging families to participate frequently in sacraments (Eucharist, Reconciliation). Y N DK
7. By having parish pastoral programs that focus on the family Y N DK
8. By helping couples to understand that the church recognizes the family as “Domestic Church” Y
B. How can the Church help spouses to strengthen their relationships and build commitment?
1. By providing couple centered activities to foster bonding and indissolubility Y N DK
2. By providing ongoing training to learn skills to nurture relationship and commitment. Y N DK
3. By making trained counselors available for couples in need. Y N DK
4. By common celebrations of marriages/baptisms/anniversaries, etc. Y N DK
5. By assisting couples in the initial years of their marriage to understand each other better. Y N DK
6. By inviting successfully married couples to share experiences with other couples. Y N DK
7. By emphasizing the permanence/vocation of marriage in programs for the youth. Y N DK
8. By organizing more family fellowship functions to foster bonding within families. Y N DK
9. By motivating members of family to take care of elderly and sick. Y N DK
C. How can we encourage responsible Christian parenting?
1. By providing parenting skills to couples at different stages of their family life. Y N DK
2. By creating opportunities for experience sharing for parents with children of similar ages. Y N DK
3. By educating parents on how to address the doubts of a child regarding faith and values. Y N DK
4. By emphasizing faith and character formation of children in their development. Y N DK
5. By encouraging parents to become role models for children in living Christian values/faith. Y N DK
6. By ensuring children attend faith education programs organized by the parish/diocese. Y N DK
7. By encouraging parents to spend quality time with their children. Y N DK
D. How can the marriage preparation / enrichment course be made meaningful and effective?
1. By increasing the involvement of the lay people in the preparation, implementation and evaluation of marriage preparation courses. Y N DK
2. By periodically updating the course syllabus in line with the changing situations of family. Y N DK
3. By ensuring that the courses are conducted by trained professionals in accordance with the recommended syllabus. Y N DK
4. By educating the parents of the couple on their roles and responsibilities in promoting a healthy marital relationship. Y N DK
5. By gearing parish youth programs towards marriage preparation. Y N DK
6. By drawing on popular wisdom found in prevailing cultures that support natural marriages. Y N DK
E. How can the Church care for those who seek annulment/divorce and those in irregular marriages?
1. By simplifying the process of annulment. Y N DK
2. By providing judicial vicars assistance for timely handling of the annulment process. Y N DK
3. By setting a definite time frame for completion of the process of annulment. Y N DK
4. By offering counseling/reconciliation to those who seek divorce. Y N DK
5. By inviting the catholic partner in an interreligious marriage to participate in the sacramental life of the Church. Y N DK
6. By allowing those in irregular marriages to participate in active life of the parish. Y N DK
7. By assisting couples who live together without marriage to accept the sacrament of marriage. Y
8. By being more compassionate and less judgmental in our approach. Y N DK
9. By parish priest/other representatives of the Church visiting couples. Y N DK
F. How can the Church promote Openness to life?
1. By bringing in lay professionals to conduct Natural Family Programs. Y N DK
2. By conducting sex education programs for youth. Y N DK
3. By promoting Natural Family Planning as the only family planning method. Y N DK
4. By educating people on the right to life and the evil of abortion. Y N DK
5. By educating people that abortion is not a solution to unplanned pregnancy. Y N DK
6. By relaxing the Church’s stand on contraception in the context of increasing abortions. Y N DK
7. By encouraging couples and families to go in for adoption. Y N DK
8. By promoting dialogue with science and biomedical technologies that support natural family planning. Y N DK
9. By promoting pro-life groups and volunteers in the parish and the diocese. Y N DK
G. How can the Church counter negative social influences?
1. Church should take a timely stand against social influences contrary to Christian values. Y N DK
2. By educating people [children, youth, and adults] to critically reflect on messages from the media and other sources. Y N DK
3. By the Church involving itself actively in local issues [e.g. alcoholism, dowry, domestic violence, etc.] which harm unity/harmony in the family. Y N DK
H. How can the Church enhance pastoral care practices of priests/religious?
1. By ensuring that the priests have adequate practical skills to minister to families before they are ordained. Y N DK
2. By involving laity in giving training to priests/sisters/brothers for ministering to families. Y N DK
3. By organizing ongoing training programs for priests/sisters/brothers to understand and address changing family situations. Y N DK
4. By making priests accountable for imparting the teachings of the Church to the lay faithful. Y N DK
I. How can the Church provide pastoral care for those with homosexual tendencies?
1. By inviting homosexuals in the church to participate in the family organizations and movements. Y N DK
2. By educating everyone to treat homosexual persons with respect and sensitivity. Y N DK
Any missing aspect or additional issue/comment:
1. Despite there being many lay pro-family and pro-life individuals and ministries in India, INCLUDING COUPLES, just ONE single lay person has been included in the “national level committee” of five. There is also no member of the female sex.
2. Although I am a very pro-active Catholic in ministry since 33 years, working on it at least 8 hours a day, I did not receive any intimation or hear about the first questionnaire of 2014 from our priests or diocesan authorities, and have only just received this 2015 questionnaire because of the interest taken by one individual. I am yet to hear about it in church.
This shows the pathetic state of the Indian Church’s involvement of laity in the decision-making processes, even in critical matters concerning their spiritual welfare and the future direction of the Church.
3. From my experience, the people who get to participate in the discussions and influence the decisions and are delegated to attend meetings and seminars are the liberals among the laity and the clergy. The conservatives are filtered out.
The lay “representatives” of the faithful are mostly selected by Bishops whom they satisfy by their subservience, not by their zeal for the Catholic Faith.
4. In selecting my answers in the boxes, I realize that they do not express all that I stand for as a lay Catholic in ministry.
To expand on that: the vast majority of Catholics in leadership positions in the Church or whose opinions are given weightage by the clergy are recognized, known and consulted largely because of their academic qualifications and/or their positions in industry and/or their connections. The simple and sincere, knowledgeable and committed Catholic is ignored.
Most catechism, Sunday School and Vacation Bible School teachers lack sound catechesis themselves; many of them have are blissfully ignorant of the current developments both in the Church as well as in science and technology.
Most of them do not possess a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Vatican Documents, possibly even a Bible, and many of them practice contraception (for instance) or do not believe they need to confess their sins to a priest, or reject some or the other doctrine or dogma of the Church (on Mary, for instance).
There are priests who make life and ministry difficult for zealous pro-lifers and have progressive ideas on contraception or natural family planning.
What does one do about all of them? What will they teach rank and file Catholics about the Faith?
Priests in the parishes are administrators, not pastors (please let me not be wrongly accused of generalizing). They do not have any time for spiritually guiding their flocks, especially on the individual level, so often even for administering the sacraments and for home visits.
So if I tick a particular box, of what use is it when the prevailing conditions are as above?
At the October 2014 Synod, the liberals among the Cardinals and Bishops were wanting to accommodate what the Church has always regarded as “sin” using the excuses of “mercy” and “compassion”.
Opening the Church doors wider to welcome those living in sin must not ever be interpreted as the condoning of sin.
The selection of questions did not provide us an opportunity to comment on these aspects of Family and Life issues.
Occupation: Catholic full-time lay ministry
Parish: Our Lady of Guidance
State: Tamil Nadu
TO ALL MEMBERS of the CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF INDIA 26th February, 2015
Your Eminence/ Grace/Excellency,
Greetings from CCBI Commission for Family!
We have received reactions/feedback that the questionnaire from the Vatican sent to you earlier is complex and many experienced difficulty in answering the same. You also have expressed concerns during the Plenary Assembly in Bangalore. Therefore, after much deliberation and discussion we have prepared for you a new simplified questionnaire which incorporates almost all the aspects/themes of the Lineamenta and the original questionnaire.
The CCBI Commission for Family has developed a modus operandi to answer the call of Pope Francis by providing responses to the questionnaire sent from Rome. With your cooperation we aspire to reach as many faithful as possible (100,000 responses to the questionnaire) by 25th March 2015. I have enclosed the simplified questionnaire for your perusal. Your cooperation is solicited.
To achieve this target we have:
1. Simplified the questionnaire to make it easy for respondents
2. Translated the questionnaire into regional languages and uploaded the same on our website (www.ccbifamily.com)
3. Formed a national level committee inclusive of laity to facilitate the process.
The national level committee consists of following persons:
Name – Email id – Mobile no.
1. Bishop Lawrence Pius, Chairman, CCBI Commission for Family email@example.com 09442590888
2. Fr. Milton Gonsalves, Ex. Secretary firstname.lastname@example.org 09422669854
3. Fr. Arul Raj, Bangalore email@example.com 09900517523
4. Fr. Cajetan Menezes, Mumbai, Snehalaya, firstname.lastname@example.org 09323029622
5. Alan Doulton, Pune, email@example.com 09822008389
You may please contact members for any clarification and in turn they would also be in touch with you to find out if any support is required.
Once again I appeal to you to treat matter with utmost urgency in order to partake meaningfully in the Synodal process. The responses can be sent to Fr. Milton Gonsalves, CCBI Family Commission Secretary. His email Id: firstname.lastname@example.org, mobile: 09422669854.
Thanking you in anticipation
Yours fraternally in Jesus Christ,
+ Lawrence Pius, D.D.,
Bishop of Dharmapuri and Chairman, CCBI Commission for Family