Pope Francis has said he wants to return to the “old way” of celebrating Christmas and Easter and of celebrating Pentecost, a holiday traditionally associated with the Church of England.
Francis made the comments at the beginning of the Easter Vigil for the Roman Catholic Church in Rome, which will mark the end of Lent.
The pope also reiterated the Catholic Church’s opposition to homosexuality, saying, “This is not a sin, but an evil that needs to be condemned.”
The pope said the church “needs to be united in its commitment to defend the dignity of all human persons.”
He called on Catholics around the world to “make a common front against discrimination and homophobia” and “seek to end the current conflict” of the past decades.
The Catholic Church has been one of the most visible and powerful opponents of gay rights and marriage equality, and Francis is widely expected to become one of its first popes to sign a gay marriage equality bill that would legalize gay marriage.
His remarks came as the Vatican announced a special gathering for Sunday Mass, the start of Lent, to mark the feast of St. Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of the Church.
The Roman Catholic church has traditionally celebrated Christmas and other Christian celebrations throughout Lent, with most services ending with Mass.
The new pope, who has called for a “great renewal” of faith in the church and has encouraged Catholics to live as devoutly as possible throughout the year, has made a number of statements during his papacy.
The Pope’s predecessor, Benedict XVI, said in 2013 that the church should no longer celebrate Christmas, but has instead “turned to another season, this time in the context of the Eucharist.”
Francis said in his remarks that while Christmas celebrations should be “more lively and meaningful,” “we must not lose sight of the fact that this year we celebrate the Eucarum adumens, or new beginning, as we would celebrate the birth of Jesus.”
The Pope added, “And this year, I invite you to come and say thanks, this is the Eumenes, we invite you, I hope you, to make a common ground.”