Top cardinal talks of accepting ‘unconventional couples’

The Catholic Church should make “unconventional couples” feel at home in the church instead of suffering from “de facto discrimination,” is the calling card of the leaders of the Italian Bishops Conference and a big ally of Pope Francis. This was said this week in a conference.

“Couples in irregular matrimonial situations are also Christians, but they are sometimes looked upon with prejudice,” said Bishop Nunzio Galantino.

“The burden of exclusion from the sacraments is an unjustified price to pay, in addition to de facto discrimination,” he said on Wednesday to a national conference on the liturgy in Orvieto, Italy. Galantino was Francis’ choice in March initially to lead the Italian hierarchy. From the beginning, the bishop has adopted the pontiff’s inclusive approach. That has often landed Galantino in hot water and he has spoken about the need for the church to welcome gays and to consider only optional celibacy for the priesthood. He has not softened his views, which are especially noteworthy because the Vatican itself will host a major conference of the world’s top bishops to discuss issues facing the modern family.

How to deal with gay and cohabiting couples will probably be a topic of discussion. The question of whether or not Catholics who have divorced and remarried without an annulment can take Communion will be among those. It has emerged as a focal point of disputes among bishops around the world.

Galantino’s remarks were reported in Italian media and were translated by ANSA.

In his talk, Galantino said that everyone should “feel at home”, and especially at Mass. This includes migrants, the disabled, the poor, and those in unconventional relationships. He also spoke about the need for churches to make their buildings accessible for those with disabilities and said that Catholics should take care that the poor are not treated differently at Mass. He sent a strong message to the bishops about divorced and remarried Catholics who are currently excluded from the sacraments.

“They live in their situation with great suffering,” he stated in the interview, “and they perceive the church’s regulations as very severe, not compassionate if not punitive.”