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Pope continues Lenten retreat away from Vatican business

Cardinal says pontiff has asked for investigation of gay unions

10 March, 15:07
Pope continues Lenten retreat away from Vatican business (See related) (ANSA) - Vatican City, March 10 - Pope Francis continued his week-long Lenten retreat Monday in the medieval hill town of Ariccia just south of Rome with members of the Curia. The Pope left the Vatican Sunday afternoon by bus, eschewing more glamorous forms of transportation, shortly after reciting the Angelus prayer with the faithful in St. Peter's square. Francis broke with the tradition of holding the Lenten retreated inside the Vatican, to ensure he and Curia members could get away from work and experience five days of silence and meditation.

That meant the pope was also away as reports arrived from an interview Sunday by American Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who said Francis wants the Catholic Church to study same-sex unions.

The pope wants Church leaders to look into these unions "and see the reasons that have driven them," Dolan said on NBC television program Meet The Press broadcast on Sunday.

Dolan suggested that some may have misinterpreted the pope's words in an interview last week with Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera as Francis expressing outright support from gay unions.

"(Pope Francis) didn't come right out and say he was for them. Once again, in an extraordinarily sincere, open, nuanced way, he said, 'I know that some people in some states have chosen this. We need to think about that and look into it and see the reasons that have driven them'," said Dolan.

Since his election one year ago, Francis has ruffled the feathers of some conservative Catholics by refusing to condemn members of certain groups the Church has long considered sinful - including homosexuals.

For example, last year Francis said of gay people: "If a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge".

But in 2010, before he became pope, he described a government-supported law to legalize marriage and adoption by same-sex couples in Argentina as "a war against God" and "a maneuver by the devil".