A recent survey found that nearly six in 10 Americans say marriage should not be "defined and regulated by the state."
Prominent U.S. evangelicals Russell Moore and Rick Warren blasted the sexual revolution at a Vatican conference Tuesday, saying it is destroying the institution of marriage.
Moore, the public face of the Southern Baptist Convention, said sexual liberation had created "a culture obsessed with sex" that had simply led to a "boredom of sex shorn of mystery."
Pope Francis said the church's marriage annulment process should be more efficient and perhaps even free of charge, and he decried any attempts to exploit it for profit.
"Some procedures are so long and so burdensome, they don't favor [justice], and people give up," the pope said. "Mother church should do justice and say: 'Yes, it's true, your marriage is null. No, your marriage is valid.' But justice means saying so. That way, they can move on without this doubt, this darkness in their soul."
The Vatican will host religious leaders from across the religious spectrum for a conference where they are expected to defend traditional marriage.
A pastoral approach that doesn't renounce the indissolubility of the sacrament, yet doesn't automatically exclude the faithful is needed, a canon lawyer said.
Young Voices: As a Catholic newlywed, there are three concerns I would have mention if Pope Francis had invited me to address the synod on the family.
Analysis: The American Procedural Norms of the 1960s streamlined the church's judicial process for tens of thousands of American Catholics.
Existing programs aimed at helping Catholic families are not strong enough to meet modern needs, a Wisconsin couple told the Synod of Bishops.
"The church constantly faces the tension of upholding the truth while expressing compassion and mercy. Families face this tension all the time."
Grace on the Margins: "As we gain wisdom ... our hope can be that we -- the whole church -- will find healing words that will both strengthen marriages."