Pope Francis has called for a fall meeting of bishops on "The Pastoral Challenges of the Family." They will meet to discuss complex issues facing Catholic families in this century. A preparatory questionnaire has been released, asking all bishops to distribute "as widely as possible to deaneries/parishes so that input from local sources can be received."
In November 2013, a letter was sent to all priests, deacons and coordinators of parishes in the Belleville diocese. Bishop Braxton wished the clergy and faithful to participate in the questionnaire and "to make every effort to meet with representatives from your parish" for responses.
We finally had an opportunity to provide input, and what did our parish leaders do? Some chose to publish the website in their bulletins, but the vast majority of our leaders in Clinton County chose to ignore the directive. By not informing the people of this questionnaire, the hierarchy prevented Catholic voices from being heard.
I am saddened to see that our leadership failed to ask us, the people of the Church, what we thought, and I'm saddened about how our diocesan leaders responded to this request. They continue to keep people in the dark, and they obviously do not value the wisdom and opinions of the people in the pew.
Pope Francis must recognize that the hierarchy in the Catholic Church is far removed from the lives of the faithful by requesting this survey. The adage, "We Are the Church" is simply not true.