World

Pope seeks 'open' debate on family issues as liberals seek change, conservatives status quo

  • People photograph Pope Francis as he caresses a child upon his arrival in the Paul VI hall on the occasion of the pontiff's meeting with paralympic athletes, part of the "Believe to Be Alive" paralympic gala which will be held in Rome, at the Vatican City, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

    People photograph Pope Francis as he caresses a child upon his arrival in the Paul VI hall on the occasion of the pontiff's meeting with paralympic athletes, part of the "Believe to Be Alive" paralympic gala which will be held in Rome, at the Vatican City, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)  (The Associated Press)

  • Pope Francis arrives for a vigil in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. Pope Francis on Sunday opens a two-week meeting of bishops and cardinals from around the world aimed at making the church's teaching on family life, marriage, sex, contraception, divorce and homosexuality, relevant to today's Catholic families. The pre-synod debate has been dominated by mudslinging between liberals and conservatives over divorce and remarriage, but there are many more issues up for discussion. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

    Pope Francis arrives for a vigil in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. Pope Francis on Sunday opens a two-week meeting of bishops and cardinals from around the world aimed at making the church's teaching on family life, marriage, sex, contraception, divorce and homosexuality, relevant to today's Catholic families. The pre-synod debate has been dominated by mudslinging between liberals and conservatives over divorce and remarriage, but there are many more issues up for discussion. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)  (The Associated Press)

  • A boy holds a candle during a vigil led by Pope Francis, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. Pope Francis on Sunday opens a two-week meeting of bishops and cardinals from around the world aimed at making the church's teaching on family life, marriage, sex, contraception, divorce and homosexuality, relevant to today's Catholic families. The pre-synod debate has been dominated by mudslinging between liberals and conservatives over divorce and remarriage, but there are many more issues up for discussion. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

    A boy holds a candle during a vigil led by Pope Francis, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. Pope Francis on Sunday opens a two-week meeting of bishops and cardinals from around the world aimed at making the church's teaching on family life, marriage, sex, contraception, divorce and homosexuality, relevant to today's Catholic families. The pre-synod debate has been dominated by mudslinging between liberals and conservatives over divorce and remarriage, but there are many more issues up for discussion. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)  (The Associated Press)

Pope Francis says he's looking for a "sincere, open and fraternal" debate about divisive family issues that opens Sunday, with progressives hoping for change and conservatives intent on keeping the status quo.

Francis made a cameo appearance Saturday at a twilight prayer vigil in St. Peter's Square on the eve of a two-week meeting of bishops aimed at making the church's teaching on sex, marriage, divorce and homosexuality relevant to today's Catholics.

Francis said he wanted the bishops to listen — really listen to what the people of God are saying — and then engage in a "sincere, open and fraternal" debate that will respond to the "epochal changes" that Catholic families are living through today.