Pope refuses to support gay marriage as he opens controversial Catholic synod

The Pope opened a divisive meeting of the world’s bishops on family issues by forcefully asserting that marriage is between a man and woman.

Pope Francis has begun the highly anticipated Catholic synod by confirming that he and the church continue to believe that marriage can only take place between a man and a woman.

He also insisted that the church cannot be “swayed by passing fads or popular opinion.”

However, he also said the church is “a mother, who doesn’t point fingers or judge her children.”

“The church must search out these persons, welcome and accompany them, for a church with closed doors betrays herself and her mission and instead of being a bridge, becomes a roadblock,” he said.

He also claimed that the church doesn’t judge and must “seek out and care for hurting couples with the balm of acceptance and mercy.”

The church had been divided on the issue in the run-up to the gathering, with conservative members insisting that the Catholic doctrine is clear and unchanging when it comes to homosexuality.

Official Catholic doctrine holds that homosexuality is an “intrinsic disorder”, but progressive theologians have recently come to accept that sexuality is innate – a premise that makes it harder to maintain a stance of outright condemnation.

In a clear challenge to that doctrine, Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa announced yesterday that he was a gay, practising Catholic priest – before calling for the synod to take up the plight of gays and attacking the “paranoid” homophobia of the church.

“I’m out of the closet and I’m very happy about that,” the 43-year-old said.

“I want to be an advocate for all sexual minorities and their families who have suffered in silence.”

According to Charamsa, most Catholic priests have a homosexual orientation but are so consumed by self-hatred that they support the repression of their basic instincts and desire for love.

Charamsa timed his announcement to ensure maximum media impact on the eve of the opening of a synod that is the second and final round of a review of Catholic teaching on the family.

He had previously acknowledged that his actions would make it impossible for him to remain a priest.

“I know that I will have to give up my ministry which is my whole life,” he told interviewers.

He was subsequently fired by the Vatican – who said “the decision to make such a pointed statement on the eve of the opening of the Synod appears very serious and irresponsible, since it aims to subject the Synod assembly to undue media pressure.”

Gay rights activists – who were in Rome to try to influence the synod from the sidelines – quickly came to his defence and urged the synod use Charama’s actions as an opportunity to assert that there is no place for homophobia in the church.

Former Irish President Mary McAleese – a practising Catholic with a gay son – said she hoped that more transparency would help “kill for once and all this terrible lie” that everyone was born heterosexual, reports the Associated Press.

However, the Pope’s opening comments – plus certain meetings he attended during his recent US outreach trip – have led many to believe that the Catholic Church has little intention of accepting homosexuality any time soon.

In addition, despite an early ‘who am I to judge’ PR blitz attempting to bolster his image, the Pope is yet to lift any of the actively homophobic and transphobic policies of his predecessors.

Proposals to ‘reach out’ to gay people were scrapped by the Church last year – and despite suggestions that the plans would return this year, it is clear that the Church has no plans to have an open discussion surrounding the matter.