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Synod survey of faithful open through October

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SAN DIEGO — More than 15,000 people took the electronic survey the San Diego Diocese is conducting in just the first 15 days it was available, said the diocesan team leading it.

The goal is to gain a greater understanding of the views and priorities of the Catholic community in San Diego and Imperial counties.

The survey, launched Sept. 6, will be open to the end of October. It’s available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese by selecting the preferred language at the right-hand top of the initial page of the electronic survey. All responses are anonymous.

The diocesan team, including two university professors with expertise in survey design and analysis, worked for months to develop the survey, which was fine-tuned by two commissions and tested in key groups.

The 39 survey questions are based on the experiences shared by around 11,000 people who participated in 1,100 small-group sessions held at parishes and schools earlier this year.

The diocese held these sessions as part of a consultation of Catholics worldwide. The consultation, known as a synod, is a multi-year initiative launched by Pope Francis to bring everyone in the faith together to listen to each other and to discern ways to increase the  participation of the faithful at all levels of the Church.

The survey is being conducted to reach as many people as possible, including those who have stopped coming to Mass regularly. The diocese wants to understand what contributed to their decision to leave.

The survey asks a few demographic questions, such as age, gender and education. And it asks a few questions regarding the level of participation in the Church. Most of the questions are related to the major themes and issues that emerged during the small-group sessions.

In many of the questions, survey-takers have to choose among four options after reading a statement — “Strongly Agree,” “Agree,” “Disagree,” or “Strongly Disagree.”

“We intentionally did not offer an option for someone to say they were neutral on a given statement,” said Robert Ehnow, who co-leads the diocesan synod team. “We want to know their true opinions.”

The survey does not offer an opportunity to add a personal comment. “Marioly” Galván, the diocese’s chancellor and co-leader of the diocesan synod team, said it would be difficult to gather and analyze thousands of comments. She said that the design of the survey was not meant to limit responses, rather to better understand the issues that arose from the small-group sessions.

“The results that are gathered at this level, will guide our next step in this consultation process,” she said.

Cardinal Robert W. McElroy is inviting everyone to take the survey and to invite family members and friends to do the same.

“It will be of great assistance to us in understanding what the Catholic community believes and wants,” he said in a video message promoting it.

“The results of the survey will help to strengthen our path forward to better minister at all levels of our Church.”

A link to the survey was sent to everyone who is registered with their parish or ministry through the Flocknote platform. Individuals can visit the web page sdcatholic.org/synod to take the survey in English, Spanish or Vietnamese. The survey in a paper format is available through the parishes.

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