- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pope Francis said Tuesday that the union of a man and a woman is “at the root of marriage,” dashing hopes among gay rights supporters that he might open the door to acceptance of same-sex unions by the Catholic Church.

Speaking at the start of a three-day conference at the Vatican, the pontiff said family is “an anthropological fact … that cannot be qualified based on ideological notions or concepts important only at one time in history,” according to the Independent in the United Kingdom.

Without directly speaking about same-sex unions, Francis told the conference, “It is fitting that you have gathered here to explore the complementarity of man and woman. This complementarity is at the root of marriage and family.”

The pope also said that “children have the right to grow up in a family with a father and mother” who are capable of creating “a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity,” the Independent reported.

Religious leaders at the conference said they welcomed the comments.

Pope Francis made clear that male/female complementarity is essential to marriage and cannot be revised by contemporary ideologies,” Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, told the British newspaper.

Pastor Rick Warren of California’s Saddleback Church said marriage is being “ridiculed, resented, rejected and even redefined.” 

“The church cannot cower in silence,” he said, according to Religious News Service. “There is too much at stake.”

Apostle Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, met with Francis on Monday in what was believed to be the first time a Catholic pope and a top LDS general authority have met face to face, the Salt Lake Tribune said.

“We are pleased to unite with the Catholic Church, other fellow Christian denominations and other world religions in standing firm and speaking clearly about the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman,” the LDS said in a statement.

However, gay rights advocates were less than enthralled.

“For the past two years, I’ve listened to person after person tell me that Pope Francis is somehow a secret LGBT advocate who is on the cusp of standing with equality,” wrote Jeremy Hooper, who is at the Vatican conference as a special projects consultant to GLAAD, an anti-defamation group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

“I’ve been suspicious, to say the least. I’m sad to say his opening address to this convention only reinforced my skepticism,” Mr. Hooper wrote.

The International Inter-religious Colloquium on the Complementarity of Man and Woman at the Vatican has drawn some 300 leaders and scholars from 14 faiths and 23 countries. The three-day meeting ends Wednesday.


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