The Catholic Primate of Ireland has said people in "new relationships and unions" should be welcomed into the church.
Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin made the comments at a conference celebrating "family and family life", in preparation for Ireland's hosting of the World Meeting of Families in 2018.
"The Synod [OF BISHOPS]was clear that we need to be mindful of those who have begun new relationships and unions, and find sincere and truthful ways of welcoming and including them in the life and worshipping community of the church," he told some 700 delegates at DCU St Patrick's College, Drumcondra on Saturday.
In his address, Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin expressed frustration at the amount of media focus on the issue of communion for divorced, remarried and homosexual individuals in the Amoris Laetitia document from last year's Synod of Bishops discussions on the family in Rome.
He said theological complications surrounding the discussion “doesn’t mean you close doors” on such individuals.
Dr Eamon Martin said there was now an opportunity for the church to connect with young people who were thinking of marriage but had picked up a “distrust of commitment and institutions”.
Asked whether the church had any authority to speak about abortion or the merits of the Eighth Amendment, the Catholic Primate said: “There are many people who feel very strongly about this issue, and I think it’s very important that we hear that, we listen to it.
“Human life is the most fundamental right of all, and certainly we will try to continue to speak about that in a tender way, in a loving way, in a compassionate way.”
On the topic of the threat posed to families by violence and criminality, Dr Diarmuid Martin said he is “very worried” about the number of recent stabbings in Dublin and that something must be done to address the attacks.
He spoke about drug culture and suppliers who are “prepared to kill to defend themselves.
“There’s [A]. . . challenging problem about violence, and that’s the number of stabbings that are going on, very often unprepared and unthought,” he said.
“It’s a very worrying thing that people go out, go to a party, and end up stabbed. All of us need to start speaking about the way this violence is developing in our society. Some of it is drug-related,” he said.
“Young people are dragged into a drug culture at a very early age, and in all of this there are people who are making enormous amounts of money and are prepared to kill to defend themselves in that.”
He revealed that the Dublin Archdiocese is “looking at a particular premises” to provide extra housing for families living in emergency hotel accommodation ahead of the onset of winter.
“It’s a big emergency. Two years ago we had an emergency and plans to address it, and still we’re not making it.”
Dr Martin, who will be the official president of the World Meeting of Families in 2018, said he still “shivers” when considering the organisational challenges posed by the event.
When asked if the State will contribute to running costs, he said: “You’ll have to ask the State.”
He repeated his wish for Pope Francis to attend the meeting, but said the pontiff's diary will not be completed until a later date.