There is goodness in non-marital unions: Cardinal

A cardinal says the Church must look for the good in relationships that don’t conform to a marital ideal, citing an example of a stable gay relationship.

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna said in an interview with La Civilta Cattolica that the bishops at next month’s synod on the family should not take a stance that highlights failure.

Rather they should adopt “a benevolent gaze that sees how much good will and how much effort there is even in the midst of much suffering”.

The next step, he said, is not to pretend that everything in all those situations is fine, but to help Catholics build on what is good, growing in holiness and faithfulness to God and to each other.

The cardinal said a civil marriage is better than simply living together, because it signifies a couple has made a formal, public commitment to one another.

“Instead of talking about everything that is missing, we can draw close to this reality, noting what is positive in this love that is establishing itself.”

Cardinal Schönborn spoke about a gay friend of his who, after many temporary relationships, is now in a stable relationship.

“It’s an improvement,” he said.

They share “a life, they share their joys and sufferings, they help one another”.

“It must be recognised that this person took an important step for his own good and the good of others, even though it certainly is not a situation the Church can consider ‘regular’.”

The Church’s negative “judgment about homosexual acts is necessary”, the cardinal said, “but the Church should not look in the bedroom first, but in the dining room! It must accompany people.”

Pastoral accompaniment “cannot transform an irregular situation into a regular one”, he added.

“But there do exist paths for healing, for learning”, for moving gradually closer to a situation in compliance with Church teaching.

Cardinal Schönborn said this approach did not dilute Church teaching.


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