Pope Francis defended marriage as “an indissoluble bond between a man and a woman” on Sunday as he opened a landmark Catholic synod on the family just hours after the Vatican fired a senior priest who came out as gay.
In a solemn mass held in St. Peter’s Basilica, the Pope set a largely merciful tone by urging religious leaders to do more to “seek out and care for” marginalised believers, but reaffirmed Catholic opposition to gay marriage.
The opening of the synod has been overshadowed by Saturday’s announcement by Polish-born priest and Vatican theologian Krzystof Charamsa that he was in a gay relationship and was prepared to become an advocate “for all sexual minorities and their families who have suffered in silence.”
“I’m out of the closet and I’m very happy about that,” said the 43-year-old priest, wearing his clerical collar and flanked by his boyfriend.
The Vatican reacted furiously, calling the Polish priest’s announcement a “serious and irresponsible” decision timed to put undue media pressure and tension on the Synod assembly. (Read more from “Watch: Vatican Sacks Gay Priest as Pope Opens Synod” HERE)