After a week filled with controversy over his position on gay marriage, Pope Francis reminded his flock that he does not support same-sex marriage. The pontiff made the declaration during the opening mass of this year’s Synod on the Family, telling approximately 270 bishops and other Catholics from around the world.
“This is God’s dream for his beloved creation: to see it fulfilled in the loving union between a man and a woman, rejoicing in their shared journey, fruitful in their mutual gift of self.”
Francis stressed that the Church “must be more welcoming, charitable, compassionate and merciful to all people,” all the while reiterating that the “true meaning of the couple and of human sexuality in God’s plan” is marriage between one man and one woman.
The pontiff also asked the Synod delegates to “search out” those who wished to remain committed to the church, urging the institution to: “…welcome and accompany them, for a Church with closed doors betrays herself and her mission, and, instead of being a bridge, becomes a roadblock.”
The Synod on the Family will last three weeks and is expected to cover several issues within the Church, including how to reach out to Catholics who have divorced and remarried in civil ceremonies. Last month, the pope eased some of the restrictions on annulments within the Church, and told priests to be more welcoming to divorced couples.
Following his whirlwind trip to the United States last month, the Pope made headlines after controversial Kentucky judge Kim Davis issued a statement claiming that she had a private audience with him in Washington, D.C., alleging that the pontiff gave her and her husband rosaries and told them to “stay strong” in their fight against gay marriage.
The Vatican later confirmed that the couple was among the many individuals invited to “greet” the pontiff before he departed for New York, and that he was not fully briefed on her background at the time.
Francis did, however, meet with an openly gay former student of his from when he was a high school teacher at a Catholic high school in Argentina back in the 1960s. That student, Yayo Grassi, now lives in Washington, D.C. and brought his partner with him to the meeting, according to CNN.
The Holy See also made news this weekend after it was announced that a high-level priest working at the Vatican was relieved of his duties after revealing that he was in a same-sex partnership.