Vatican City (AFP) - A Catholic cardinal suggested Tuesday that the phrase "living in sin" for cohabiting couples should be banned, saying it alienated people from the Church.
"To label people is not helpful," the unnamed prelate was quoted as saying at a major Vatican meeting on family issues gathering some 250 bishops from around the world.
"The language has to change," he said, according to a spokesman for the extraordinary meeting known as a synod, speaking at a daily news conference on the closed-door talks.
The Church should instead encourage a "gradual" rapprochement with unmarried couples, the cardinal urged.
At the opening of the synod on Monday, Pope Francis urged bishops to "speak freely" in the talks set to run until October 19.
On Sunday the pope issued a strong signal of support for reform of the approach to marriage, cohabitation and divorce, suggesting that the Church address the present gulf between what it currently says on these issues and what tens of millions of believers actually do.