"The Catholic Church is a beautiful blend of the Western and Eastern traditions, and also the various cultures, the countries, they can offer positive solutions to the issues which we have in common," he said.

Differences of opinion and approach at the Synod of Bishops were to be expected, he said. The task of synod participants is to come up with suggestions for strengthening families and ministering to those in need. "Then we will submit it to the Holy Father and he will take it up. That is what the synod is supposed to be. And I am happy about the way it goes on."

"Why should we be worried? Why should we be anxious?" the cardinal said.

The bishops' suggestions are given to the pope, he said, "because he is the guarantor of unity and he is the guarantor of catholicity and he is the one who has to provide what the people of God -- the clergy, the bishops -- all need for today."

"And, of course, as the Holy Father very clearly mentioned, nobody is going to touch the doctrine," he said. "Apart from that, as the pastor of the universal church, we leave (the final decisions) to the Holy Father for his discretion and his leadership role as the successor of the apostle Peter."

Cardinal Thottunkal insisted the church's ministers must be present with families "and accompany them, not only in their moments of joy, but also in their moments of distress and the moments where they need encouragement and where they are totally in pain. We have to be with them."

Eastern Christians in India, both Catholic and Orthodox, he said, have a pastoral approach to the family that others would do well to imitate. "Just for example, when somebody dies at home, in our tradition a priest has to visit them at least three times because he has to do services on three occasions. He cannot do only two of them for his convenience; he has to be there with the people, praying."

After listening to some 200 speeches in the synod hall, the cardinal said the sorry state of many families in the West appears to be a result of "the erosion of spiritual values."

"When we think money can do everything, when we think modern facilities will bring you all happiness, it is something in vain," he said. "Humanity -- men and women -- we need the superpower that is God himself to guide us, to provide everything for us."

Pope Francis, he said, continually reminds Catholics of the dangers of "self-complacency, the greed of money and power and also the lack of understanding toward the needs of others."

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Contributing to this story was Robert Duncan at the Vatican.