Catholic Church: Bishop Says Church Should Welcome ‘Unconventional Couples’
The Religion News Service’s Josephine Mckenna reported last week that Bishop Nunzio Galantino, leader of the Italian Bishops Conference and an ally of Pope Francis, said the church should welcome “unconventional couples” who are in “irregular matrimonial situations.” He said, “The burden of exclusion from the sacraments is an unjustified price to pay, in addition to de facto discrimination.”
Galantino was Francis’ choice in March to lead the fractious Italian hierarchy, and from the beginning the bishop has adopted the pontiff’s inclusive approach. That has often landed Galantino in hot water, as he has spoken about the need for the church to welcome gays and to consider optional celibacy for the priesthood.
But Galantino has not softened his views, which are especially newsworthy because in October the Vatican will host a major conference of the world’s top bishops, called a synod, to discuss issues facing the modern family.
How to deal with gay and cohabiting couples is a likely topic of discussion, but the question of whether Catholics who have divorced and remarried without an annulment can take Communion has emerged as a focal point of disputes among bishops.
Galantino is no stranger to controversy
In a May interview he appeared to denigrate pro-life witness outside of abortion clinics, saying “I don’t identify with the expressionless person who stands outside the abortion clinic reciting their rosary, but with young people, who are still against this practice, but are instead fighting for quality of life, their health, their right to work.”
The bishop was criticized for his claim that Catholics “have concentrated too much on abortion and euthanasia.” He also attracted criticism for his statement that he hoped the Catholic Church in Italy will be “able to listen without any taboo to the arguments in favor of married priests, the Eucharist for the divorced, and homosexuality.”
While the Anglican Communion is still divided in its discussion of gender and sexuality issues, this article from the U.S. web-site ‘Religion Dispatches’ offers this link to Religious News Service’s report from Roman Catholic Bishop Nuncio Galantino (recently appointed Leader of the Italian Bishops Conference) pointing to the need for a more tolerant attitude towards ‘unconventional couples’ by the Church.
Given that Bishop Enzio is a close friend of Pope Francis, his advocacy of a more open attitude on contentious issues of gender and sexuality – the treatment of divorcees and homosexuals, and attitudes toward the possibility of ordaining married priests – it may well be that our Roman Catholic friends will be witnessing more far-reaching reforms than might otherwise have been thought possible during the reign of previous pontiffs – with the possible exception of Pope John XXIII.
Many Roman Catholics will welcome reform in their Church on matters that impinge on the lives of many of the Faithful, and which need to be addressed in our world of today.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand