Monday, 22 December 2014

Vatican Goes Hollywood?

It is customary for Hollywood producers to make use of focus groups to gauge the audience reaction to a film or a TV pilot. Focus groups, polls and public opinion surveys are all marketing tools designed to probe the public's reaction to a product, film, idea or concept. During the Second World War such groups were used to determine the effectiveness of propaganda. Are we to believe that the Vatican has stooped to such tactics in its preparation for the upcoming synod?

Vatican seeks input for 2015 Synod 

Vatican asks for wide input on 2015 synod, not based on doctrine

Such methods are fraught with difficulties, not the least of which is the attempt to gauge opinion without reference to doctrine. The very clear public perception that the Pope can change doctrine is likely to influence the sorts of response that a questionnaire is going to get. The Pope cannot change doctrine though the likelihood of getting this concept through the media miasma is poor indeed. What is perhaps more significant is the curia's attempt at pastoral micromanagement.

Last year we had a pastoral visit from our local auxiliary bishop. He came on a Friday and spent the whole weekend at our parish celebrating mass and meeting with various groups in the parish. He went over everything from pastoral care to ministries to finances. It was a fairly thorough examination of our parish life but a pleasant one overall. No one had any expectation that our auxiliary bishop was going to institute major changes in doctrine. Perhaps the Office for the Synod of Bishops should talk to someone who actually spent time with us instead of engaging in these sorts of cheap marketing tactics.


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