Vatican City, Vatican (BBN)-Pope Francis is due to celebrate Mass at St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, at the start of a synod of bishops that will focus on family issues.
The run-up was dominated by a row over a Vatican priest who on Saturday announced he was in a gay relationship, reports BBC.
Poland-born Krzysztof Charamsa said he wanted to challenge the Church’s “backwards” attitude to homosexuality.
He was later dismissed from his post at the Vatican’s office in charge of guarding Roman Catholic doctrine.
A spokesman said Msgr Charamsa’s decision to give interviews on the eve of the synod was “grave and irresponsible” and would put Pope Francis under “undue media pressure”.
In an interview with the Corriere Della Sera newspaper, the 43-year-old priest said: “It’s time the Church opened its eyes and realised that offering gay believers total abstinence from a life of love is inhuman.”
BBC religious affairs correspondent Caroline Wyatt says the controversy has set the scene for what some fear could be a fractious three weeks.
The Synod – a defining moment for Pope Francis
Almost 300 Church leaders – and some lay people – will be discussing such issues as the treatment of Catholics who are gay, and how to approach couples who live together without being married or wish to take communion after being divorced.
Our correspondent says the Church is unlikely to change its doctrine, but some traditionalists fear that the synod is sowing confusion about the ideals of the Catholic faith.
The Pope has called for a more understanding attitude on sexual issues.