Europe

Pope insists opening on civilly divorced has church backing

Pope Francis holds his assistant Sandro Mariotti's arm as he walks down steps during his weekly general audience, in the Pope Paul VI hall, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Pope Francis holds his assistant Sandro Mariotti's arm as he walks down steps during his weekly general audience, in the Pope Paul VI hall, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)  (The Associated Press)

Pope Francis is insisting that his opening to letting civilly remarried Catholics receive Communion has the backing of the majority of the world's bishops.

In an interview Wednesday with the Belgian Catholic weekly Tertio, Francis said his 2016 document "The Joy of Love" — which contains the opening — was the fruit of two meetings of bishops. He said: "It is interesting that all that (the document) contains, it was approved in the Synod by more than two thirds of the fathers. And this is a guarantee."

Conservative Catholics have voiced increasing concern that Francis' opening was sowing confusion about church teaching on the indissolubility of marriage. The debate has been stoked by the recent publication of a letter by four conservative cardinals asking Francis to clarify his position.