Prelate sure Church will refresh ministry to those who fall short

An Austrian cardinal says the Church under Pope Francis will find new ways of responding to people who don’t live up to its teachings.

Speaking to media at the synod on the family, Cardinal Christoph Schonborn said it is clear that the Church must reach out to those whose marriages have failed.

No one must feel that their membership of the Church ended because they failed, he underlined.

Referring to people in irregular relationships from the Church’s perspective, he said: “I can look at an imperfect situation from two sides.”

“I can look at what is missing, and I can see what is already there”.

“When couples live together in a stable, faithful relationship, one could say that is not a sacramental marriage, that there is something missing, but one could also say that it is a beginning, that there is already something there,” he said.

During an ad limina visit by the Austrian bishops, Cardinal Schonborn said, Pope Francis raised the issue of young people cohabiting before getting married.

The Pope encouraged the Austrian bishops to accompanying people “towards something more complete and more perfect”.

People’s personal circumstances also need to be considered, Cardinal Schonborn said.

The main thing is to accompany such relationships non-judgmentally and with understanding and encouragement, he noted.

Also speaking to media, German Cardinal Reinhard Marx cautioned against glorifying what some people see as the good old days of marriage and family life.

Undertones about the ideal marriage and family life of yesteryear should be avoided, he said.

He also said that faithful homosexual relationships that have been stable for decades should not be viewed as “nothing” by the Church.


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