The Vatican will host religious leaders from across the religious spectrum later this month for a conference where they are expected to defend traditional marriage as between a man and a woman.
While hosted by Vatican officials and scheduled to open with an address by Pope Francis, the conference will include Muslim and Jewish representatives, as well as American leading evangelicals like megachurch pastor Rick Warren and Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore.
The gathering comes just weeks after Pope Francis and senior Catholic leaders wrapped up a two-week Vatican Synod on the Family, which highlighted tensions within the Catholic hierarchy over gays and lesbians and cohabiting couples.
Despite initial overtures toward gay and lesbian Catholics and the “gifts and qualities” they had to offer the church, the final synod report scaled back that language. Conservative and traditionalist Catholics said any attempts to soften the church’s teaching on homosexuality was a “betrayal” and akin to heresy.
Organizers say the new conference will show that while the Catholic hierarchy is split on how to address contemporary challenges to marriage and family life, the church can nonetheless seek common ground with religious leaders outside the Vatican.
“I am willing to go anywhere, when asked, to bear witness to what we as evangelical Protestants believe about marriage and the gospel, especially in times in which marriage is culturally imperiled,” said Moore, who heads the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
The Nov. 17-19 conference, “An International Interreligious Colloquium on The Complementarity of Man and Woman,” will feature about 30 speakers from 23 countries and 14 religions.
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SOURCE: Religion News Service
Sarah Pulliam Bailey