German Cardinal Reinhard Marx has said the Church must create structures to respect the rights of gay people, including civil unions, NCR Online reports.
Addressing journalists in Dublin, Cardinal Marx said that the reforms Pope Francis wants to make at the Vatican depend on "a new relationship between lay people and clerics, that is clear" and suggested that this was taking place.
Cardinal Marx, who is president of the German Bishops' Conference and a member of the Pope's advisory council of nine cardinals, called on not just the Church to apologise to gays and lesbians, but society as a whole, which he said was implicated in this "terrible scandal."
"The history of homosexuals in our society is a very bad history because we have done a lot to marginalise them. It is not so long ago and so as Church and as society we have to say sorry," he said.
He reiterated his views, expressed at the first Synod of Bishops on the Family in 2014, that, "You cannot say that a long-term relationship between a man and a man, who are faithful, is nothing. That it has no worth."
He said the State had to make arrangements for homosexuals so that their rights were recognised as equal but he also suggested that marriage was something different.
"Up to now we have this difference – some are against it; some are for it. There was an open discussion. We [the Church] have our moral position [on marriage] and that is clear, but the secular State has to regulate these [same-sex] partnerships and to bring them to a just position and we as Church cannot be against it," he said.
Cardinal Marx underlined that throughout human history, marriage had been understood as "a relationship between one man and one woman who are open to give life." He added, "And that is a special relationship, I think."
Gay Catholic Groups Want the Vatican to Do More Than Apologise (The New York Times)