In a publicly disclosed statement on Monday, Pope Francis seemed to propose a way to allow clerics to bless same-sex couples, a practice not officially recognized by the Holy See but adopted in some countries like Germany and Belgium.
While affirming the Church’s recognition of marriage between a man and a woman, the pope emphasized the importance of not being solely judgmental and exclusionary, instead advocating for “pastoral prudence.”
Since assuming his role in 2013, Pope Francis has aimed to reform the Church’s governance, making it less hierarchical and more responsive to the needs of its members, despite encountering resistance from within the Church.
Pope Francis inaugurated a significant conference on the future of the Catholic Church, pledging to open its doors to “everyone” even amid disagreements with conservatives on matters including LGBTQ issues and the treatment of divorcees.
The Synod of Bishops’ general assembly convenes following an extensive two-year global consultation and will address various topics, including the potential ordination of women as deacons and the issue of priestly celibacy. The assembly will span four weeks in Rome.
The pope underscored the importance of inclusivity in his opening speech, aiming to foster a more tolerant attitude within the Church, which serves 1.3 billion faithful and is adapting to evolving societal norms and global demographics, including the growth of Christianity outside Western regions.
“The Church is here for you! The Church of open doors is for everyone, everyone, everyone,” said the 86-year-old at a large mass in St Peter’s Square.
“In such a complex time as ours, new cultural and pastoral challenges emerge that call for a warm and kindly inner attitude so that we can encounter each other without fear,” he said.
Warning against “a rigid Church”, the Argentine pontiff said he hoped the forum would avoid “human strategies, political calculations or ideological battles”.
However, he said the intention was not to carry out “a parliamentary meeting or a plan of reformation. No. We are here to walk together with the gaze of Jesus”.
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