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The future leader of the Church in Ireland has said he does not believe change in the Church’s fundamental teachings on marriage and human sexuality are likely to follow the extraordinary synod on the family in October.
However, Archbishop Eamon Martin told The Tablet that he believes the Church may need to look for a new language to communicate its “complex and very deep concepts” on marriage and human sexuality.
He said the feedback to the Vatican’s questionnaire on the family had indicated a “certain deficit of understanding among people and even priests about the roots of the Church’s teaching” specifically in relation to natural law.
The Co-adjustor Archbishop of Armagh said he could not detect in the synod working document, the instrumentum laboris, “any signal that change was in the pipeline”, though he did detect “a pastoral openness” to looking at the Church’s strictness on access to sacraments.
He suggested the synod needed to consider whether sacraments could be considered “as moments for healing rather than necessarily some kind of prize you attain because you are a perfect person.”
The archbishop said the working document, which was released in Rome last week, was not purporting to give answers.
“We are beginning a synod process and I imagine that several years from now when the apostolic exhortation comes out at the end of the synod process, it is then that we will see shifts or changes that there might be,” he said.
The Archbishop said there was no doubt that the tone of the document was one of mercy, understanding and empathy.
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