NCR Today: The new discussion procedure at the ongoing Synod of Bishops was a "huge step forward," according to Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, moderator of the German language group.
Austrian and German bishops have given top priority to the migrant crisis and made it a key policy issue.
Catholic aid agencies have urged Europeans not to turn against migrants seeking refuge other countries, in what reports are calling Europe's greatest refugee movement since World War II.
Austrian church leaders, reacting to the discovery of dozens of dead refugees on a truck near Vienna, said they hoped it would increase awareness of the plight of migrants.
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.