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Pope Francis urges Church to show love towards all even as he reaffirms Catholic opposition to gay marriage

NewsBy Neil Fetherston
Pope Francis urges Church to show love towards all even as he reaffirms Catholic opposition to gay marriage

Pope Francis has urged the Church had to show love and understanding towards all even as he reaffirmed Catholic opposition to gay marriage.

Speaking as he opened a three-week gathering of bishops from around the world in St Peter's Basilica on the theme of the family in the modern world, the Pope  stressed that the Church must be more welcoming, charitable, compassionate and merciful to all people.

On the eve of the gathering, the Vatican dismissed a Polish priest from his Holy See job after he came out as gay and called for changes in Catholic teachings against homosexual activity.

Conservative Catholics held a conference in Rome just before the synod started on how homosexuals can live by Church's rules that they should be chaste while Catholic gay activists held another demanding full acceptance of active gays in the Church.

Pope Francis dedicated one third of his homily to the topic of love between man and woman and its role in procreation.

"This is God's dream for his beloved creation: to see it fulfilled in the loving union between a man and a woman, rejoicing in their shared journey, fruitful in their mutual gift of self," he said.

He also spoke of the "true meaning of the couple and of human sexuality in God's plan," a clear reference to heterosexual marriage. 

The leader of the 1.2 billion member Church said the person “who falls or errs must be understood and loved."

"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 roadblock," he said.

The Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland Eamon Martin and the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, are representing Ireland's Catholic bishops at the Synod, which runs for three weeks.