The first Synod Pope Francis convened will deal with the topic of families, and is divided in two phases. On October 2014, the presidents of the episcopal conferences will meet to discuss the issue. A year later, in 2015, bishops and experts from across the world will travel to Rome to hash out the pastoral details.
To center on the discussion topics, the Vatican sent all of the bishops' conferences a questionnaire with 39 points. These include: the knowledge of Church Doctrine among Catholics, the percentage of unmarried couples living together, addressing the spiritual needs of divorced couples and gays, and how to best foster a culture of life. In addition, there is one open-ended questions dealing with "other challenges and proposals.”
ARCH. LORENZO BALDISSERI
General Secretary of the Synod
"It's not about bishops weighing in on what they personally think. Rather, it's a collection of information. In terms of practicality it's not an individual poll of every catholic. Instead a parish priest will pass on their local information based on the reality of that parish and its parishioners."
Each episcopal conference can decide how to collect the answers. Some, like the group from England and Wales, has the process set up online. But in any case, all answers must find their way back to Rome before January.