Pope Francis says a creative and humble approach is needed as the Vatican tries to understand why many in the Catholic Church have gone their own way on sexual and family issues like contraception, pre-marital sex and divorce.
A Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on Sunday opened a two-week meeting of 200 cardinals and bishops from around the world, who know that much of their flock, while considering themselves Catholic, defy church teaching on family matters such as artificial birth control.
Francis told the churchmen: "Synods are not called to discuss nice and original subjects, nor they are a test on intelligence. They are meant to foster the vineyard of the lord, and the lord is asking us to take care of the family. We are all sinners. We can all be tempted to seize the lord's vineyard out of greed, because of the hypocrisy of some of his servants."
"The holy spirit gifts us with wisdom, so that we work through real freedom and humble creativity."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.