On the Feast of the Holy Family 2014, the bishops of England and Wales invited parishes to reflect, with true spiritual discernment as requested by Pope Francis, on the themes emerging from the Extraordinary Synod on the Family.
The Call, the Mission and the Journey aimed “to help people celebrate marriage and family life, whilst recognising the difficulties that families often encounter”. The document offered material for reflecting on scripture and on the teaching of the Church on marriage and family life, as well as six questions to facilitate parish and family conversations.
This report offers a flavour of the feedback to those six questions, based primarily on diocesan summaries received from 16 dioceses:
Birmingham, Cardiff, Clifton, East Anglia, Hallam, Hexham & Newcastle, Leeds, Liverpool, Menevia, Middlesbrough, Northampton, Salford, Shrewsbury, Southwark, Westminster, and Wrexham.
Compiled by the staff of the Marriage and Family Life Project Office, this report also draws on individual and group responses to The Call, the Mission and the Journey from other dioceses, received online via SurveyMonkey or sent directly by email or post to the offices of the Bishops’ Conference or to Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Bishop Peter Doyle, delegates to the forthcoming Ordinary Synod on Family.
A number of local and national organisations reflected on marriage and family life as part of this period of spiritual discernment. These include A Call to Action, the Association of Interchurch Families, the Catholic Women’s League, the Union of Catholic Mothers, Two in One Flesh, the National Board of Catholic Women and the Dorcas group. Not all of these used the format of The Call, the Mission and the Journey so it has not been possible to incorporate their feedback here. However, some of the conclusions of the ACTA report have been noted in the comments section.
In terms of statistics, not all dioceses provided a breakdown of the numbers of responses received directly rather than via SurveyMonkey. Overall 1,051 responses were made online of which 107 were group responses, ranging from two people to 70+ though most were less than 12 people and many were couples.
Across the 11 dioceses providing statistics, an additional 1,078 people were identified as having contributed to the reflection process. Of the organisations that provided statistics, CWL noted 132 comments, a local branch of the NBCW 48 participants, Two in One Flesh 7, Dorcas 6 and ACTA 342 responses.
The parish responses sent directly to the two delegates to the Synod reflect the views of 123 people.
Of the 1,051 contributing online, 84% are lay people, 62% are parents, and 34% are grandparents. 72% are married, 11% are single, 6% are separated or divorced. 28% are aged 66-75, 25% are aged 56-65, 6% are aged under 35. 435 of the total sample of 1,051 indicate that they are either a priest, deacon, professed religious, Eucharistic minister, catechist, teacher, headteacher, pastoral assistant, lay chaplain, theologian, church employee or marriage preparation facilitator.
Use the link below or to the right of this article to download our 28-page document of responses to the 2014 survey on marriage and family life.