Pope defends marriage, hetero couples after gay priest

Pope defends marriage, hetero couples after gay priest

VATICAN CITY - Agence France-Presse
Pope defends marriage, hetero couples after gay priest

Pope Francis leads the opening mass for the synod of bishops on the family in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican October 4, 2015. Reuters Photo

Pope Francis defended Oct. 4 marriage and heterosexual couples as he opened a synod on the family overshadowed by a challenge to Vatican orthodoxy by a gay priest.

During a mass to mark the three-week meeting of Roman Catholic bishops, the pope delivered a homily on “solitude, love between man and woman, and the family.”

He referred to Genesis, the first book of the Bible, as a bedrock for understanding human relationships.

“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,” he said.

“God,” the pope said, “joins the hearts of two people who love one another... [and] joins them together in unity and indissolubility.”

The synod is the second and final round of a review of Catholic teaching on the family.

But the gathering of 360 participants has been overshadowed by a bombshell announcement by a Polish priest, Krzystof Charamsa, who works for the Vatican body that enforces Catholic dogma, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  

The Vatican confirmed on Oct. 2 that Francis had hugged an old gay friend and met his partner during his visit to the United States last month.

The highly symbolic gesture, indicative of what is seen as Francis’s personally tolerant attitude towards gays, came a day before the pontiff met prominent gay marriage opponent Kim Davis - another private encounter in the United States that the Vatican said did not indicate support for her stance.