Pope Francis sends out survey to ask Catholics about gay sex, abortion and contraception

Share your views on how difficult it is to practice what's preached. Envelope enclosed,says Pope.

Pope Francis is urging members of the Catholic church to fill in a survey on the Vatican's current teachings regarding contraception, homosexuality and access to communion for the divorced, to see how hard it is to practice what the church preaches in a modern day world.

The unique questionnaire, launched earlier this month, aims to determine how Christians feel about issues such as gay marriage and whether they feel such teachings are practical.

Feedback is expected to highlight the difference between Church teachings and the behaviour of its followers.

The survey asks respondents to explain how they feel on the current official total ban on the use of contraceptives, "in any circumstance", the ban on gay or lesbian Catholics having "intimate sexual relationships" and the prohibition on divorced Catholics who have remarried to receive holy communion.

The Vatican survey has 46 questions, including: "In those cases where the Church's teaching is known, is it accepted fully or are there difficulties in putting it into practice? If so, what are they?" 

Responses contained within answered questionnaires will help form new Vatican guidance for followers, to be published in 2015.

The Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, told BBC Breakfast that Catholics should be prepared to "listen" to arguments concerning same sex marriage, arguing that "listening never did us any harm".

He also said: “On the one hand we must work to follow Christ, but on the other hand we have to face all of the ambitions of modern living.”

Pope Francis has previously warned that the Church's "obsession" with issues of contraception, abortion and gay marriage could make "the moral edifice of the church [...]  fall like a house of cards", asking “Who am I to judge?” on homosexuality.

He has generally never been one to do things by book since he was elected leader of Catholic church in May this year. His unorthodox practices have included shunning the papal accommodation offered to him and choosing to sleep in a hostel instead, ignoring private cars to travel aboard buses, taking the first papal 'selfie' and halting his weekly audience to kiss a man suffering with a rare disease causing him to develop tumours all over his body.

The current deadline for handing in surveys is 30 November.

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