Francis shows strong support for reform on marriage, cohabitation and divorce



Church reviewing marriage, pope says he backs reform

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Sunday issued a strong signal of support for reform of the Catholic Church’s approach to marriage, cohabitation and divorce as bishops began a landmark review of teaching on the family.

Opening an extraordinary synod of nearly 200 senior clerics, Francis suggested the Church must address the present gulf between what it currently says on these issues and what tens of millions of believers actually do.

Thorny theological questions such as whether divorced and remarried believers should be able to receive communion will dominate two weeks of closed-door discussions set to pit conservative clerics against reformists led by German cardinal Walter Kasper.

Vatican insiders say Kasper has the backing of Francis but that the pontiff wants consensus for any change.

That stance was reflected in the sermon the pontiff delivered at the synod’s opening mass.

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