VATICAN CITY (CNA/EWTN News) - Married couples who endure hardships together; gay men and women trying to live chastely; engaged couples who choose not to cohabitate. What do all these people have in common?
They're all striving for holiness and, according to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, they're the "new minority" to whom it is important to extend inclusion in the Church.
"...these wonderful people today often feel themselves a minority, certainly in culture, but even, at times in the Church!" the Archbishop of New York said in his Oct. 12 blog post. "I believe there are many more of them than we think, but, given today's pressure, they often feel excluded."
The cardinal, who is currently in Rome for the Synod on the Family, said that inclusion has emerged as a "very refreshing, consistent" theme discussed at this year's synod.
He listed immigrants; those with same-sex attraction; single people; those with disabilities; racial minorities; the divorced or widowed; the elderly and homebound, all as being essential to the life of the Church.
"We in the family of the Church love them, welcome them, and need them," he said.
However, there is another group of people that should be remembered when discussing those who feel excluded from modern society - and even the Church - he said.
"I am thinking of those who, relying on God's grace and mercy, strive for virtue and fidelity," Cardinal Dolan said.
This includes couples who choose not to cohabitate before marriage; spouses who endure hardships in marriage; gay men or women who embrace chastity; a mother who sacrifices her career for her children; and spouses who lovingly welcome children into their marriage.
"They are looking to the Church, to us, for support and encouragement, a warm sense of inclusion," he said. "We cannot let them down!"
Cardinal Dolan's comments came shortly after Philadelphia's Archbishop Charles Chaput addressed the synod assembly, calling for precise language, especially when speaking about inclusion and "unity in diversity."
"Brothers, we need to be very cautious in devolving important disciplinary and doctrinal issues to national and regional episcopal conferences - especially when pressure in that direction is accompanied by an implicit spirit of self-assertion and resistance," Archbishop Chaput had said.