Only two months away from the beginning of the 2015 Synod on the Family, Cardinal Ra√∫l Vela Chiriboga has said there is no room “to expect 'extraordinary things' from the synod, outside of the doctrine of the faith.” “The Church is the depository of the faith, and that faith is the teaching of Jesus: we can’t go against his commandment,” the emeritus Archbishop of Quito explained Aug. 14 to CNA in Piura, where he was participating in Peru's Tenth National Eucharistic and Marian Congress as an envoy of the Holy Father. “There are fundamental truths” that will not change, Cardinal Vela said, even “by more news outlets stirring things up by saying things contrary to, or wanting to misinterpret, what the Lord commands.” The cardinal recognized there is a need to develop “a better pastoral approach to the faithful, as well as to the faithful who are separated, or who are in other unions.” “However, this does not mean that they will again have the opportunity to return to receiving Communion, because their situation is irregular.” What can be done, he added, is “to give them other (spiritual) ‘arms’, if the term can be used, such as spiritual communion, and feeling supported and aided in prayer, so that they can discover the mercy God has for each of us.” The Ecuadorian cardinal also pointed out the need to develop a more serious and lengthy marriage preparation for engaged couples. He noted that “now, a lot is being improvised,” and questioned whether “two sessions, each lasting 10 minutes, are enough for the faithful to receive this sacrament which will transform their entire lives.” This pastoral ministry, he said, “requires that we pastors encourage the faithful to discover all the beauty that receiving the sacrament of matrimony means.” “We’re not going to find the strength for marriage in the media or on television, but in the grace of God which comes to us through the sacraments,” Cardinal Vela said. Recalling Pope Francis’ recent visit to Ecuador, the prelate said that “The presence of the Holy Father is a grace from God through his words and his witness. Everything he spoke to us about, everything he told us, was to remind us that Jesus is for us, and consequently we have to imitate him in our lives, in our way of being, in our attitudes, as the Lord teaches us through his example to share our lives with others.” Commenting on the Eucharistic Congress, Cardinal Vela said it “has for its goal reviving our love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, for Jesus who makes himself present in the sacrament of the Eucharist, and who remains with us to be adored, that’s true, but above all he remains with us to be the food of our daily lives.”