Catholic leader seeks inclusiveness
The leader of Catholics in England and Wales wants worshippers in non-traditional relationships to share their experiences of family following a controversial decision by the church to reject proposals to "accept and value" gay people.
Last month, the Archbishop expressed disappointment that the global gathering of bishops did not go far enough to welcome gay people into the church - although he also said he couldn't remember how he had voted himself.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols told BBC Radio 4: "There were three key words as far as I was concerned ... 'respect', 'welcome' and 'value'.
"I was looking for those words and they weren't there and so I didn't think that was a good paragraph.
"I'm not kidding you, I actually can't remember which way I voted. We had 60 votes in about 40 minutes."
Now Catholics in different types of relationships are being asked to report back to their dioceses on their own experiences of marriage and family life.
This period of "spiritual reflection" is the second phase in Catholic deliberations on the family before the second international meeting of bishops in October next year.
He said that he welcomed contributions from people who were not in the "ideal" Catholic marriages, because they might be unmarried, divorced, or in a same-sex relationship.
He said: "The two great features of the Synod in October was on the one hand, for it to give a resounding trumpet call in support of marriage and stability, and on the other hand express and strengthen the pastoral response of the Church to people in a wide, wide variety of difficult and pressurised situations.
"We hope that the material we prepare will find that same balance."
Speaking at a press conference at the end of the bishops' conference of England and Wales, the Archbishop also said that the Pope prefers to work with English bishops because of their conciliatory temperament.
He said: "There is something about the English temperament that appeals to Pope Francis.
"It is a temperament that wants to find solutions.
"It has been fashioned in a culture in which the Catholic Church is not a dominant minority or not even a hugely strong influence in the culture.
"We, from our earliest days, learn how to live in a situation that doesn't naturally give support to all the desires that we have."
Liverpool-born Archbishop Paul Gallagher has recently been appointed Vatican 'foreign minister' for the Pope.
The Cardinal also read a strongly-worded statement from Ukrainian bishop Hlib Lonchyna condemning the international community for their inaction on the crisis in Ukraine.
He said: "The country is on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe. People's lives are shattered, their homes destroyed, infrastructure is damaged.
"The UK and European community reactions are slow and, in his view, ineffective at stopping this Russian aggression.
"Even the shooting down of MH17, he feels it has been put to one side.
"He feels strongly that the Ukraine needs help today, more than words and promises."
Archbishop Nichols will travel to Gaza next Sunday to celebrate Mass with the city's Catholic community.