In the long run, the church will not be able to avoid issues such as women's ordination and who can take over the leadership of priestless communities, Schüller said.
When Pope Francis last year effectively demoted U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke by moving him out of a senior post in the Vatican to a largely ceremonial role as head of a Rome-based Catholic charity, it was viewed as a way to sideline one of the pope's most outspoken critics on the right.
But the move seems to have left Burke free to air his conservative -- and pointed -- views on efforts to change church practices.
Bishop Fridolin Ambongo Besungu said the changes to the Vatican seem "like a change not only in attitude here, but a new anthropology for the way of living our faith."
NCR Today: "Where would our society be without the social benefits families provide? The state would be totally overburdened without families."
Cardinal Christoph Schönborn also said open controversy is "absolutely essential" when discussing the future of the Catholic church.
Within weeks, the Vatican said in a statement Thursday, bishops' conferences around the world will be receiving preparatory documents for the 2015 synod.
"Francis wants to get things moving, to push processes forward. The real work is about to begin," Cardinal Reinhard Marx told a German newspaper.
Pope Francis on Monday waded into the controversial debate over the origins of human life, saying the big bang theory did not contradict the role of a divine creator, but even required it.
The pope was addressing the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which gathered at the Vatican to discuss "Evolving Concepts of Nature."
"When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so," Francis said.
Cardinal Christoph Schönborn said the church needs to take a closer look at the broader family environment instead of focusing solely on gay relationships and divorced and remarried Catholics.
Questions over the tone presented by the synod toward gay people dominated conversations Thursday, after the Vatican seemingly tried to water down its message of openness.