@ Plotinus I spent quite a bit of time responding to your statements, when just prior to completion (when I was looking for a link) my computer had a spasmodic fit and I lost the lot. So you'll forgive me I hope when I say that I will respond to the greater whole of it later. However I would like to address firstly the very final point you make on the "survey". The assertion that its a survey of the laity or anything unusual actually is a false conception. What the questionnaire actually is, is the usual set of questions given to bishops and parishes prior to a synod to set the parameter for the event. This happens before every synod. What is different this time is that the bishops of England and Wales (a rather liberal lot) presumably due to the nature of the topic decided to post it online and solicit their laity to provide their input. The media than ran with this to say the Vatican was surveying the laity for their opinions and that something wholly unprecedented was occurring. Sorry to break the bubble, but I'm afraid its not, and indeed the Vatican has clarified in the wake of the media storm that the assertion that it is polling Catholics, or sending a questionnaire of to the laity is "not true". Here's a link to an article on the topic. Secondly, with regards to your assertion that the matter of contraception is not part of infallible teaching. The congregation for the doctrine of the faith (iirc) has specifically declared it an infallible teaching of the ordinary and universal magisterium. Ergo... - @Arakhor: You're making the false equivalence that many secular commentators make between the Church and doctrine, and governments and policies. They aren't the same, and the Pope does not have the authority to change doctrine in the manner that governments shift and change policy. Indeed for a papal assertion to be infallible, a requirement is that it cannot contradict infallible dogma (in addition to occurring in specific circumstances and the like). Even if a pope were to say it was infallible, no Catholic would be obliged to believe him and it simply wouldn't have the infallible character anyway. On a tangential note, if a pope were to be found (through canonical means, there are protocols through which a pope could be deposed for heresy or some other "deposable" offence) to be a heretic, he would instantaneously cease to be pope since a heretic cannot hold canonical office and the Church would be in a sede vacante state (with the cardinals obliged to initiate a conclave by canon law).