World

Pope seeks to assure conservatives that church's marriage teaching not up for debate

  • Pope Francis holds a prayer book as he opens a morning session of the two-week long Synod of bishops, at the Vatican, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

    Pope Francis holds a prayer book as he opens a morning session of the two-week long Synod of bishops, at the Vatican, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)  (The Associated Press)

  • Prelates pray before the opening of a morning session of the Synod of bishops, at the Vatican, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015. The bishops are debating how the church can better care for Catholic families at a time when marriage rates are falling, divorce is common and civil unions are on the rise. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

    Prelates pray before the opening of a morning session of the Synod of bishops, at the Vatican, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015. The bishops are debating how the church can better care for Catholic families at a time when marriage rates are falling, divorce is common and civil unions are on the rise. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)  (The Associated Press)

  • Pope Francis listens to the opening speech during a morning session of the Synod of bishops, at the Vatican, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

    Pope Francis listens to the opening speech during a morning session of the Synod of bishops, at the Vatican, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)  (The Associated Press)

Pope Francis has sought to assure conservatives that Catholic doctrine on marriage isn't up for discussion as a three-week meeting of bishops begins hashing out how the church should welcome gays, divorcees and Catholics in "irregular" unions.

Francis took the floor Tuesday after the meeting's first day was marked by a speech from the synod manager, Hungarian Cardinal Peter Erdo, in which he closed the door on any movement on whether Catholics remarried outside the church could receive Communion.

Francis said the issue wasn't the only one on the table and church doctrine isn't up for debate. But in recounting Francis' closed-door speech, the Vatican spokesman also seemed to discount Erdo's stance by noting the synod is discussing a papally approved working text, where the Communion question is still open.