Pope Francis has instructed the Vatican to send out a questionnaire to parishes around the world to canvass opinion on how it is dealing with issues such as same-sex marriage, single-parent families and divorce, as part of his drive to overhaul the Church.
The questionnaire asks clergy to report on the changing nature of their flock and to explain the difficulties they face in teaching church doctrine.
The results will be collated and presented at an extraordinary synod of bishops next October, which will discuss "the pastoral care of the person and the family".
The questionnaire contains 39 questions on issues such as surrogate mothers, feminism, single-parent families, interfaith marriages and the challenges posed by secularism.
It also touches on subjects previously considered taboo, such as the spiritual welfare of children adopted by same-sex couples, birth control and same-sex marriages.
The questionnaire asks whether the church's teaching on homosexuality, the sanctity of the family and divorce is "accepted fully or are there difficulties in putting it into practice?"
In England, bishops have posted the survey online so anyone can respond.