Pope Francis said last week that bishops should speak frankly and not be afraid of upsetting him at the extraordinary synod on the family, which  is discussing marriage, gay couples, birth control and other moral issues. Photograph: Max Rossi/Reuters

A shift in tone in the Vatican’s language about gay people has been used in a Catholic synod document which says homosexuals have “gifts and qualities(...)

Sri Lanka's Cardinal Albert Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo, arrives to lead Mass at the San Lorenzo In Lucino church in Rome today. With the vast majority of Catholics now living outside Europe, there is growing pressure for a pontiff from another part of the world. Photograph: Chris Helgren/Reuters

Roman Catholic cardinals prayed today for spiritual guidance ahead of a closed-door conclave to choose a new pope to lead the church at one of (...)