Last fall, Catholics around the world began gathering in church basements and school gyms to, in the words of Pope Francis, “look others in the eye and listen to what they have to say.” These listening sessions were the first phase of the two-year-long Synod on Synodality that will end in 2023 when the bishops meet to chew over what they’ve learned.
Now that parishes have recorded testimony from the faithful and compiled it in official reports, the Vatican is sending the message that they want to hear from those they may have missed – young or inactive Catholics who failed to show up at the parish meetings.
Jimmy Akin, a Catholic apologist and a host of the popular radio call-in show Catholic Answers Live, is one of several lay Catholic “influencers” the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communications asked to reach out to those unaccounted-for Catholics.
Akin’s radio audience includes many non-Catholics, agnostics and atheists who try to trip him up with challenges to the faith. He answers respectfully, using logical arguments to defend the teachings of the Church, reminding his listeners that as a convert, he too faced similar obstacles before deciding to become a Catholic.
On Twitter Monday, Akin invited his 21,800-plus followers to participate in the Synod by filling out a survey.
“The Vatican is doing an online survey to be submitted to the Synod of Bishops. They are interested in hearing from a wide range of people who may or may not be active Catholics. You can share your views here. The deadline is August 15,” he posted.
The survey, which he links to his website, asks respondents questions about their faith, how often they go to Mass, and whether they have had a personal encounter with God.
Other questions, concerning attitudes towards the Church, provoked a negative reaction from some who took issue with the phrasing of the multiple choice answers.
One survey question, for example, asks, “Which of these attributes best define the Church?”
Survey takers are asked to select three adjectives from the following list: “supportive,” “selfish,” “authoritarian”, “participative,” “innovative,” “outdated,” “close,” and “distant.”
Another question, asking why people leave the Church, didn’t include enough options, some Twitter users suggested:
One Twitter user wrote, in response to Akin’s post, “I’m sorry Jimmy but this survey is rubbish, it is very clear that the one who made it is out of touch with the real challenges facing the Church nowadays (lack of reverence, suppression of tradition, relativism, religious indifferentism, going with the Zeitgeist etc. etc.).”
While the overwhelming majority of comments to Akin’s post were negative, there was some praise for the Vatican’s efforts:
Full story at Catholic World Report.