Pope Francis appeared to bow to pressure from Catholic conservatives when he backed the importance of the traditional family to children.
He said that children have the right to grow up with a mother and a father, emphasising traditional family values as he opened an interreligious conference on the “complementarity” of men and women in marriage.
The three-day conference opened just weeks after Francis presided over a divisive meeting of the world’s bishops who split on issues such as gay unions and divorced and remarried Catholics.
It was organised by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, whose conservative prefect, Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, helped lead the opposition to Francis’ radical agenda at the synod.
During the two-week meeting, progressive bishops sought a much broader, welcoming tone of acceptance and welcome to gays and remarried Catholics, whereas conservatives like Mueller sought to reinforce church teaching on the indissolubility of marriage between man and woman.
Conference organisers and Vatican officials have stressed that the three-day conference was in no way a response to the synod.
But the timing couldn’t have been better to reinforce the conservative backlash against proposals for the Catholic Church to be more welcoming to gays.
During his remarks, Francis also confirmed that he would travel to the US next year to participate in a rally for families in Philadelphia.
“I wish to confirm according to the wishes of the Lord, that in September of 2015, I will go to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families,” he told the crowd, which erupted in applause.
During his first visit to the US as pope, Francis is also expected to address Congress and deliver a speech to the United Nations to mark its 70th anniversary.
The Vatican stressed that the other legs of the trip haven’t yet been confirmed.
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