Pope Francis and his predecessor, Benedict XVI, have issued an unusual collaborative document in which they restate the Roman Catholic Church's opposition to same-sex marriage.
The 82-page encyclical, issued today, says marriage should be a "stable union of man and woman." It continues, "This union is born of their love, as a sign and presence of God's own love, and of the acknowledgement and acceptance of the goodness of sexual differentiation." Encyclicals are documents written by popes for circulation to Catholic clergy members.
The encyclical, which also deals with other topics, appears to be the first one written by two popes, although it bears only Francis's signature. "Francis paid tribute to pope emeritus Benedict XVI in the encyclical, saying that the ex-pontiff had 'almost completed' the text before stepping down in a historic resignation this year and that he himself had merely added 'further contributions,'" reports Agence France-Presse. Benedict was the first pope to resign voluntarily in 700 years.
Among the other subjects in the encyclical, Francis and Benedict call for dialogue by Catholics with nonbelievers and members of other religions, emphasize that there is no conflict between faith and science, and say that faith does not "serve solely to build an eternal city in the hereafter, it helps us build our societies."