PROMISCUITY among young people undermines future marriages, the
Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, has said.
"Casual relationships" were wrong, he went on, because they
involved sexual intercourse with a person's future spouse.
"I don't doubt that most young people aspire to having their own
family," the Cardinal said in a filmed interview with the US-based
Catholic News Service, posted on YouTube. But this was "within the
context of a stable relationship between husband and wife, having
the family with a sense of permanence and a permanent faithful
commitment. . .
"Nobody wants a wife or a husband who is unfaithful; so what we
have to get across to people is that casual relationships before
marriage is actually being casual with somebody's future husband or
His comments came on Tuesday, the second working day of the
Extraordinary Synod on the Family being held in Rome, which
Cardinal Nichols, the President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference
of England and Wales, is attending.
It is the first meeting of some 184 RC bishops from all over the
world, together with 69 other delegates, to discuss the range of
pastoral challenges to the family since 1980. Cardinal Nichols had
attended the previous synod as a priest assisting a participating
Also on Tuesday, Cardinal Nichols told a press conference that
the bishops at the synod had discussed the principle of
"graduality" on Monday. He described it as a "law of pastoral moral
theology which permits people - all of us - to take one step at a
time in our search for holiness in our lives".
Cardinal Péter Erdő, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary,
said that Humanae Vitae, the 1968 encyclical by Pope Paul
VI which forbade married couples from regulating their fertility
with contraception, "needs to be considered in light of the law of
graduality", because so many Roman Catholics ignored it.
Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising,
Germany, said that the German bishops generally supported the
extension of the principle of graduality to Roman Catholics married
after divorce - one of the most contentious areas that will be
On Sunday, Pope Francis opened the two-week synod by celebrating
mass in St Peter's Basilica. In his homily, he warned the bishops
against pride, hypocrisy, and greed. "We can thwart God's dream if
we fail to let ourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit
gives us that wisdom which surpasses knowledge, and enables us to
work generously with authentic freedom and humble creativity.
"Synod assemblies are not meant to discuss beautiful and clever
ideas, or to see who is more intelligent. They are meant to nurture
and tend better the Lord's vineyard, to help realise his dream.
"In this case, the Lord is asking us to care for the family,
which has been from the beginning an integral part of his loving
plan for humanity."
The next day, Pope Francis encouraged the delegates to speak
their minds openly and without fear about the issues they were
going to address.
Among the lay Roman Catholics to address the synod on its first
day were Ron and Mavis Pirola, a married couple from Sydney,
Australia, who argued that the welcome that families could give to
homosexual couples might act as a model of evangelisation, and an
expres- sion of Christian "compassion and mercy".
Cardinal Nichols told reporters that the synod responded to the
Pirolas' testimony "very warmly, with applause".
The synod will close on 19 October, when Pope Francis will
beatify Pope Paul VI, the author of Humanae Vitae.
Next year, a larger synod will be convened, which will report
back to the Pope, who called the meeting to respond to the
"widespread cultural, social, and spiritual crisis" that threatened
the family today.
Two days before the synod opened, Rome also hosted an
international conference on pastoral care for homosexual and
transsexual people, "The Ways of Love", which took place in the
Waldensian Faculty of Theology.
Delegates heard that the Church should desist from using "harsh
language" when referring to questions of human sexuality.
Fr Tom Rosica, the English-language spokesman at the synod,
reported that one participant had argued that such phrases as "
living in sin", "intrinsically disordered" and "contraceptive
mentality" ought to be avoided.
At a press conference on the third day of the synod, Archbishop
Ignatius Kaigama, Nigeria's leading Catholic cleric, told a media
briefing that doctrine was not up to discussion.
He said that the participants would question only the pastoral
approach toward difficult issues of human sexuality and family
He also said that while the Church remained opposed to
homosexual marriage it was also against the harassment and
victimisation of gay people.
"We would defend any person with a homosexual orientation who is
being harassed, imprisoned or punished," the archbishop said,
adding that the Church did not seek to punish such people.
"The [Nigerian] government may want to punish them but we don't,
in fact we will work to tell the government to stop punishing those
who have different orientations," he said.
Archbishop Kaigama also criticised the pressure on African
nations exerted by international organisations seeking to control
population growth with contraceptives.
"We want food, education, good roads, good health and so on …
good health," he said, adding "but we are given certain things and
we are expected to accept just because we are poor."