Pope Francis opens synod with focus on family

Pope Francis has launched a two-week meeting at the Vatican to debate current Catholic teachings on family and sexual issues. Divisions within the Church could prevent any far-reaching reforms.

Pope Francis on Sunday opened an extraordinary synod of nearly 200 bishops and some lay representatives that is to review the Roman Catholic Church’s attitude to issues such as marriage, cohabitation, divorce and homosexuality.

Vatican City

Vatican City

On the eve of the meeting, Francis had told tens of thousands of believers in St. Peter’s square that he was hoping for a “sincere, open and fraternal debate” addressing the gulf between Church teachings on these questions and the actual daily practice of Catholics across the world.

Last year, the 77-year-old pontiff set the stage for such a debate by sending out surveys to bishops’ conferences all over the world, in which ordinary Catholics were able to give input on their attitudes to church teachings on family life.

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