Rick Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church, and Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission, are among multiple Protestant leaders who will meet Pope Francis and offer an "evangelical Protestant" perspective as part of a Vatican colloquium on marriage and family held this November 17-19.
"I am willing to go anywhere, when asked, to bear witness to what we as evangelical Protestants believe about marriage and the gospel, especially in times in which marriage is culturally imperiled," Moore explained, even though he disagrees with the Vatican on many issues, including "soteriology, ecclesiology," and "the papacy itself."
"I can hardly criticize from across the Tiber and then refuse to talk, when invited, about these matters," he continued. "That's especially the case when the American bishops have been resolute in standing with us, despite our real differences, on questions of religious liberty and the future of the family."
Bible scholar N. T. Wright and Moore will speak on the same panel on the gathering's second day, while Warren will give a 30-minute presentation later that afternoon.
The gathering, which will also be attended by Jewish and Muslim leaders, comes just weeks after Pope Francis and senior Catholic leaders attended a two-week Vatican Synod on the Family, which highlighted tensions within the Catholic hierarchy homosexual couples.
A Vatican document presented at the meeting asked Church to recognize the "gifts and qualities" homosexuals have to offer the church and recognize positive aspects of same-sex couples. However, the final synod report scaled back the language after conservative and traditionalist Catholics argued that any attempts soften the church's teaching on homosexuality was a "betrayal" and akin to heresy.
According to RNS, the Vatican hopes to "seek common ground with religious leaders" on the issues that have caused some division among Catholic officials. Organizers of the meeting also say their goal is 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" .
The gathering will be sponsored by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and co-sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.