Pope Francis wasted no time reminding bishops at the Vatican gathering known as the Synod on the Family -- and his flock of 1.2 billion Roman Catholics -- that he does not support same-sex marriage.
The pontiff made the declaration during Monday's opening mass, telling the roughly 270 bishops and other Catholics from around the world:
"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."
Francis stressed that the Church "must be more welcoming, charitable, compassionate and merciful to all people," including those who are victims of abuse, tragedy and violence, and all those who find it hard to follow Church doctrine to the letter, reported Reuters. But Pope Francis also stressed the "true meaning of the couple and of human sexuality in God's plan" is marriage between one man and one woman.
Francis 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 a roadblock."