A month after closing a Synod of Bishops on the family stirred by controversy over divorce, same-sex unions and other nonmarital relationships, Pope Francis will open an interreligious conference dedicated to traditional marriage.
The Vatican-sponsored gathering, on the "Complementarity of Man and Woman," will take place 17-19 November and feature more than 30 speakers representing 23 countries and various Christian churches, as well as Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Taoism and Sikhism.
The conference will aim to "examine and propose anew the beauty of the relationship between the man and the woman, in order to support and reinvigorate marriage and family life for the flourishing of human society," according to organisers.
Speakers will include Lord Jonathan Sacks, former chief rabbi of Great Britain, and Anglican Bishops N.T. Wright and Michael Nazir-Ali.
Pope Francis will address the conference and preside over its first morning session on 17 November, following remarks by Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia and the Revd Rick Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church in California, will be among the participants.
The conference was an initiative of Cardinal Muller, who proposed it to Pope Francis in November 2013, according to Helen Alvare, a professor at George Mason University School of Law in Virginia, who is handling press relations for the event.
One of the synod's most discussed topics was a proposal by German Cardinal Walter Kasper to make it easier for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion. Cardinal Muller was a leading opponent of that proposal.
Topics of lectures and videos will include "The Cradle of Life and Love: A Mother and Father for the World's Children" and "The Sacramentality of Human Love According to St. John Paul II."