Vatican urges bishops to be guided by pope, 'pastoral turning point' of family synod

The Vatican has urged bishops to be guided by Pope Francis and the "turning point" of a recent meeting on family issues that sought to provide better pastoral care for gay and divorced Catholics and those living in civil unions.

The Vatican on Tuesday sent a new questionnaire to bishops' conferences around the world seeking input on a host of family issues.

Their responses will help form the basis of debate for the next stage of Francis' family agenda: A big October meeting of top churchmen who will make final recommendations to Francis about how the Catholic Church can better tend to its families.

Among other things, the questionnaire asks how the church can care for families with gay children and discern "positive and negative elements" in heterosexual civil unions.