Washington D.C., Aug 9, 2022 / 16:34 pm (CNA).
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 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. https://t.co/NNcZ4FarLo
— Jimmy Akin (@JimmyAkin3000) August 8, 2022
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three adjectives from the following list: “supportive,” “selfish,” “authoritarian”, “participative,” “innovative,” “outdated,” “close,” and “distant.”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:
There is no option here for poor catechesis, nor an option that makes room for the fact that some people just aren’t saved: pic.twitter.com/a3eB0XfuAu
— Remy Sheppard – The Gigajörg ❤️🔥 (@BloodConquered) August 9, 2022
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.).”
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.) pic.twitter.com/gjBhRBWdX8
— Ranner 🇻🇦🌑 (@nodexallowed) August 9, 2022
While the overwhelming majority of comments to Akin’s post were negative, there was some praise for the Vatican’s efforts:
Responded! Appreciate the relevance and attentiveness to the lives of the laity in the questions 🙏
— Lindsay Sant (@Lindsay_Sant_) August 9, 2022
Akin told CNA he wasn’t surprised at the reaction to the survey.
“Many people are suspicious of the upcoming Synod on Synodality, and that itself would generate concerns. Also, from filling out the questionnaire myself, it was clear that whoever composed the questions and answers was not thinking from the perspective of many active, engaged, orthodox Catholics,” he said.
“I expected that there would be individuals who saw the questionnaire as slanted towards a particular set of viewpoints and answers,” Akin added.
On the whole, he thinks it is worth completing the questionnaire.
“My view is that if the Vatican asks for your opinions, it is better to cooperate and give them, even if the instrument is imperfect. Having your voice heard is better than not having it heard at all,” Akin said.
Akin added that he was glad to help when asked.
“I recognize that the Holy See is a place with people who have many different views, and nobody except the pope has the final say on a thing. But I believe in being helpful and constructive when asked, so I was happy to help the Dicastery for Communications,” he said.
The Vatican, he said, was also aware that Akin’s audience and that of the other influencers is not representative of active Catholics.
“Someone at the Vatican clearly understood that they would not be getting the views of people who don’t go to Mass from the diocesan surveys. They made a point to us that participants do not need to be active Catholics to share their views. They want to hear from people of goodwill who are willing to engage with the Church in some form, even if some do not presently practice the Faith,” he said.
The Vatican’s communications office conducted a similar campaign in France and in Spain, employing “priest influencers” to reach out to young people who failed to attend the parish Synod meetings.
“Following the synod, from which young people were largely absent, the dicastery met with a group of Spanish influencers,” Father Gaspard Craplet told the French Catholic website La Croix.
“They said that the digital world should be consulted and submitted the question to the pope, who replied that we should go for it,” he said.
Craplet told La Croix that the dicastery contacted him and other priests who have a following on social media and asked them to pass along the survey.
“Unlike a parish, influencers reach people who follow them freely, like sheep choosing their shepherd,” he said.
The survey distributed in Spain sparked backlash because a possible gender identification was reportedly listed as “I do not know.”
That part of the survey was said to have been amended to read, “Don’t want to respond,” the answer that was subsequently adopted by the American version of the survey distributed by Akin.
The Synod on Synodality was announced in March 2020. It is focused on discernment with the whole people of God, journeying together, and listening to one another.
It began with a diocesan phase, in which each bishop has been asked to undertake a consultation process with his local Church. The results of these consultations are to be sent to the Vatican by Aug. 15.
This will be followed by a continental phase, from September until March 2023. It will conclude with a Synod of Bishops held at the Vatican in October 2023.
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By all means, reach out to “influencers,” now that the bishops—as Successors of the Apostles—have been synodally type-cast as “primarily facilitators” (the Vademecum guidelines).
But, surely the tallied responses to multiple choice questions will reveal the assumed sensus fidei and the guidance of the Holy Spirit! This, given the premised “universal call to holiness,” and even conceding the fact that Akin’s audience “may or may not be active Catholics” and includes “many non-Catholics, agnostics and atheists.” Roll it all up and throw it on the stack…
But be of good cheer, when it’s globally “compiled and aggregated”, the relator general of the 2023 Synod on Synodality, Cardinal Hollerich from Luxembourg, will toil into the night to discern the global “synthesis.”
And, in February, Hollerich signaled already a possible final straw on the camel’s back, calling for a rejection of Church teaching on homosexuality and sexual morality: “I believe that the sociological-scientific foundation of this teaching is no longer true” (the synod’s “scientific” foundation surely will include the very up-to-date synodal survey results!). https://www.aol.com/news/liberal-cardinal-calls-revised-catholic-135429645-181222377.html
As for the synodal camel? A camel is a horse designed by a committee.
The sheer cringe-worthiness of this initiative is really quite an indication of where Rome is these days. It is not merely moral corruption and loss of faith. It is soulless, bureaucratic stupidity.
Well done! Totally concise, and much more to the point than my entries…
Yours truly has been wondering whether to raise the very general question whether persistent “stupidity” is a grave sin against the Fifth Commandment, even if those so afflicted or addicted are simply too clueless and habitual to be responsible.
About which, this:
Even the relatively innocuous addiction and overindulgence in digital and virtual reality games is found to produce corresponding neuro-chemical and possibly cellular changes in the brain itself, e.g., dopamine which is responsible for reward-driven behavior. A recent study completed at University College London (using MRI technology) strongly implies that a habit of lying [self-inflicted virtual reality, and stupidity?] tends to suppress the part of the brain (the amygdala) that responds emotionally to a “slippery slope” pattern of small and then larger lies (Garrett/Ariely/ Laxxaro, Nature Neuroscience Journal, October 24, 2016; reported by Erica Goode, New York Times, October 25, 2016).
Gee, comtemplating today’s Vatican, I use the word idiocy a lot. I hope that doesn’t land me in hell.
Next year will be ten years since Pope Benedict quit.
I find it harder and harder not to resent him for putting us in the hands of the present Bishop of Rome.
If he was going to abdicate, he should have at least buried the Argentine in some tedious archival position after the Regensburg matter.
The Vatican is getting to the point of being exceedingly laughable. Gone are the days when I took the Vatican seriously. Gone are the days when it mattered what came out of the Vatican. Gone are the days when they even made me angry. Now, they are nothing more than a bloody joke.
When referring to the current US political leadership, I have bemoaned we are ruled (not governed) by unserious people. (Although I think behind the scences, we are ruled by very serious, very dangerous, people.)
Alas, I think the same my be true of the current hierarchy
Can you please do me a personal favor? I have a pet peeve.
Never refer to elected or appointed political figures as “leaders” or “leadership”.
They are supposed to be representatives. The idea that an election or an appointment makes craven ambition into sagacious statesmanship is one of the most dangerous notions, rendering us mere pawns on their chessboard.
Senators and congressmen are representatives as are those in state legislatures but governors and presidents have executive powers. So I don’t know if they’re leaders per say but they do have a special level of authority.
I am old and disenchanted, but not with Catholicism. I am disenchanted with our leadership. Participate and reply so the evidence is there, but don’t be optimistic that it will matter much.
Interesting article at a site about the motives for the war on the part of Russia being from the mistaken yet widely held beliefs that the country has the destiny to bring forth a world wide kingdom .That would not be suprsing – seeing in same the ploys of the enemy who ever tries to counter The Truth , esp. in the role given to The Church to help bring forth the Kingdom of the Divine Will, in the role of the Holy Spirit through The Mother for these times .
The good will and trust from many , in giving heed to The Mother ,in her invitation as to how to enhance the relationships in the Holy Spirit might go a long way to counter the kingdom of lies and its effects, even as the mustard seed of faith does .
“Having your voice heard is better than not having it heard at all,” Akin said.
So I guess it was really Hitler’s benevolent outreach to Judaism to have high ranking bureaucrats sit around at Wansee and discuss how best to hate Jews and how best to exterminate them.
You know, I wouldn’t put it past Francis to use this to declare the entire deposit of faith null and void and complete his project of syncetism.
Here’s all we need to know, and it happened on Day 1 of this pontificate:
A. In late 2010, Cardinal (Danneels) from Belgium was retired in disgrace, as Archbishop and head of the Belgian Bishops’ Conference, after being exposed in Aug 2010 by the Belgian newspapers (De Standaard…among others) for protecting and coverup for his friend Bishop Roger Vanguelwhe, a homosexual predator who was found to have raped his own little nephew, and siding with his predator friend against the entire Vanguelwhe family, who were asking the Bishops Conference for justice.
2. In 2013, Cardinal Danneels takes a leading role in promoting the election of Cardinal Bergoglio as pontiff in the 2013 conclave, along with other notorious predators and coverup Cardinals, including McCarrick and Mahony of the US. Bergoglio wins the conclave election in 2013, his second attempt at the papal throne, having been the runner-up in the 2005 conclave (promoted in 2005 by Danneels et al).
3. On the evening that the Pontiff Francis is introduced to the world, two men stand beside him among the small cohort on the balcony: they are Cardinal Danneels, and Cardinal Becciu. Becciu, now on trial accused of gigantic financial fraud, is reported to whisper audibly to the new Pontiff (by the then breathless marketeering progressive Catholic media pundits), the PR talking point: “Remember the poor!”
4. Cardinal Danneels is restored to help “guide” Church affairs by the Pontiff Francis, and the man who was known worldwide to have been caught red-handed protecting the sex predator Bishop Vanguelwhe, is placed on the guidance committee for: The 2014 Synod on the Family.
That’s all you need to really know.
The rest simply follows the same pattern, with the new Belgian Cardinal Hollerich now in 2022 outright promoting the embrace of homosexual acts for the 2023 “Synod on Synodality.”
Pure, unadulterated evil…
Absolutely! Well said.
In 2009 my parish did 2 surveys with questions listed below here. Sheet A was a “registration” sheet with name and contact and “pastoral priorities”. Sheet B was anonymous with name given as optional.
A few years after the 2009 surveys the diocese went into “parish clustering” with “designated missionary disciples” working through the new way of organizing.
Subsequently, since that time the preaching content and theme-ing hasn’t really changed or been altered.
Surveys can be antithetical to Church and can reveal poor understanding and lifelessness. At that point the survey returns can’t really fill those voids. They also highlight the danger of what happens when the Parish Council steps in for or replaces the pastor.
I find the progression in surveying very strange given that the Holy Father has been warning against clericalism and the mentality of being “administrative” and of “living in dead traditions”.
1. Do you wish to be contacted by email?
2. What do you consider to be your skills?
3. What do you consider to be your vocation?
4. If you could serve well where would you be best suited?
5. What are the Pastoral Priorities?
1. Age bracket? Male or Female?
2. What religious things or practices do you most associate with being Catholic?
3. What beliefs do you most associate with being Catholic.
4. What real life behaviours should we most associate with being Catholic? How does this differ from reality?
5. How do your practices, beliefs and behaviours differ from those of other age groups?
6. What in your list would you say is specific to Catholics of this nation?
Back in the early 2000’s, our then parish did this listening session with “hired” (I do not know if they really got paid) navigator/consultant/organizer/moderator at every table. Each table discussed what was imporant to them, following some checklist of talking points. Then, each table’s moderator would anounce to the gorup at large what the main points of concern were at each table. The parish would then come to some consesus of what was important, some “vision” or something.
When it was time for our moderator to speak, it became clear to me he had an agenda of his own (or one that was most likely assigned to him by higher up), because what he said was not what I heard at that table.
There is a term for that kind of “stealth” meeting guidance; I cannot think of that term though. It is dishonest since the outcome is pre-determined and participants are guided along to the desired conclusion. This Synod on Synodality strikes me as that kind of activity
I followed Jorge Bergoglio’s papacy from day one.
The best thing to answer the request is Bergoglio’s actions/sayings, and and what he said to young Catholics: “make a mess.” And a mess, they are making, in a big way. One could mention many, many issues with this pope, and most are destroying the Church.
I pray for his speedy departure.
I am equally skeptical of all this survey business.
Chris in Maryland – I am equally disgusted with Cdl. Danneels and disturbed by his role in promoting Bergolio. (I believe it was the recently-deceased Cdl. Hummus who came up with the “Remember the poor” quote). I have just skimmed the present article in CWR on understanding the loneliness of Gen. Z. This is research, including surveys, I think I can trust as non-manipulative, motivated by an honest search for understanding and generally worth my time and attention.
https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2022/08/11/walking-with-generation-z-understanding-the-loneliest-generation/ – Providential that the above insightful article appears almost in tandem , helping to clarify areas including the endearing remark by the Holy Father on the occasion of the World Youth Day , ‘to make a mess ‘ ,blessing the youth , to sing joyfully trusting that each of them is loved
‘infinintly ‘- the guiding theme of his pontificate, as his first encyclical – Joy of the Gospel .
A chosen witness to the Eucharistic Miracle of Argentina, he very likely also relates well to the sufferings of these times that are taken unto the Two Hearts to have them transformed … into ways of compassion , hope and trust , not excluding any , esp. those most in need .. the trials of his own life allowed , to help him bring all such unto The Mother , for her to multiply such unto graces for his chosen role for these times ..
and if at times he is seen with those who have sensed the miracle of transforming holiness of Love in The Spirit in him ,
? a spirit of envy making many to accuse him of being smelly like the sheep …
his mercy towrds such too – to make him more trusted by the many needy ones , who thirst to be set free, from the desert like loneliness,as noted in the article ,
? as an effect of the genertaional evils of fear and hatred for life , in the contraceptive mentality and all that has come with it ..
His inviting The Church as a Loving Family , to come up with ways to help is what is also echoed in the Synodal process , to help persons to look within themselves , as like in a process of discernment of spirits /issues , using such a charism for our times ..
for persons to be blessed to reject , renounce and rebuke what need to be …
in the power of The Precious Blood .. and we have been blessed with special focus on same , as given to a 17 Y.O , another youth , chosen to ‘make a mess’ of rejoicing in the Power of The Lord , for freedom from addictions , depressions ..which are also likely at the root of what is afflicting the culture – addicted to ‘spirits’ of hatreds, pride , selfishness , greed , lusts , fears …
The scorn towards the Holy Father , ? a ploy of the enemy to damage the trust and love that many of all age groups have towards him , sensing his goodness and compassion ..
? that scorn in itself to also help discern if there are spirits of ‘addictions’ at work …..
I just don’t think that I must participate in such surveys J.P.G. / M.; and I think I shouldn’t. Your direction does not correlate with the situation.
So the root of willful evil are simply mental afflictions that can not be helped? And cultivating feel-goodism would be the way out of all this willful evilness? Then how could evil be willful if it is something outside of human accountability and culpability? And when we achieve this universal understanding of everyone “feeling good,” who exactly is going to do the WORK so we are all able to do such things as eat, and cloth ourselves, and put roofs over ourselves, and survive? And what would happen if Christians didn’t think it would be wonderful to have tyrants make it all happen?
First of all I do not hate homosexuals but I do know that until they are completely eliminated from the ranks of priests,bishops,cardinals or anyone with authority in the church we cannot ever have a successfully functioning church.They are fully welcome in the church but may act as laymen only as most of us do.The scandals they have caused in our church make it nearly impossible to draw new members. Think of all terrible things that have happened to young boys (altar boys) . Surely many of them have along with their families lost their faith in God .
If I had a tweeter account I would have simply told akin it was absolute BS like any Francis initiative.
Does he really think that the echelons of power in the Vatican really care what people think? It’s as rigged as any third world country election.
Just think what happened to that supposed survey about the Latin Mass.
I am reminded of the episode of Yes Prime Minister….
Bernard – “Survey shows people are in favor of national service”
Sir H – “so have another one done that shows they’re against it”
what do you think of Pope Francis ?
A. He’s wonderful
B. He’s super wonderful
C. It’s about time we had a pope who is so wonderful
D. All of the above
If you didn’t answer D to question 1, You’re a bad person and we don’t care what you think.