February 12, 2016 at 11:36 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Pope, Russian Orthodox patriarch criticize same-sex marriage

domestic partner benefits, gay news, Washington Blade

Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill on Feb. 12, 2016, signed a joint statement during their historic meeting in Cuba in which they criticized marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill on Friday expressed their opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples in a joint declaration they signed during their historic meeting in Cuba.

“The family is based on marriage, an act of freely given and faithful love between a man and a woman,” it reads. “It is love that seals their union and teaches them to accept one another as a gift.”

Francis and Kirill in their declaration describe marriage as “a school of love and faithfulness.”

“We regret that other forms of cohabitation have been placed on the same level as this union, while the concept, consecrated in the biblical tradition, of paternity and maternity as the distinct vocation of man and woman in marriage is being banished from the public conscience,” it reads.

The declaration also describes the family as “the natural center of human life and society.”

“We are concerned about the crisis in the family in many countries,” it reads. “Orthodox and Catholics share the same conception of the family, and are called to witness that it is a path of holiness, testifying to the faithfulness of the spouses in their mutual interaction, to their openness to the procreation and rearing of their children, to solidarity between the generations and to respect for the weakest.”

Francis and Kirill on Friday met at Havana’s José Martí International Airport. The meeting is the first time that leaders of the Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches have met since they split in 1054.

Francis traveled to Mexico after the meeting.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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