Controversial cardinal calls for ‘liberal’ Church

A controversial cardinal, who has been tipped by some as a possible successor to the Pope, has called on the Catholic Church to be more understanding of divorce and same-sex marriage.

Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, who is archbishop of Vienna and the son of divorced parents, is to give a keynote speech at a conference on the family at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, tomorrow.

Speaking ahead of the conference, Cardinal Schonborn said the Church must listen to couples in all relationships in a way it has not done before.

“Second unions, divorce, same-sex unions; these are all part of a new narrative around the family in Ireland,” he said. “So there is a lot of change and the Church must show mercy in the context of that change; it must be willing to meet families where they are today.

“Ultimately, and this is certainly the case with Ireland, for all the crises in the institution of marriage ... the desire to marry and form a family remains vibrant, especially among young people.”

Cardinal Schonborn said the clergy “must listen like perhaps we haven’t before, and listen to all... to people in both regular and so-called irregular relationships.”

“Reinvigorating family is perhaps our great mission today,” he said.

He has spoken out against conservatism and called for greater acceptance of homosexuality and increased lay involvement within the Church.

He was previously censored by the Vatican in 2010 after he accused another cardinal of covering up clerical sexual abuse.

Cardinal Schonborn also attracted international headlines last year when he said “many Muslims” are intent on invading Europe and conquering Christians.

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