Pope Criticizes Conservatives At Key Church Gathering

VATICAN CITY, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Pope Francis appeared on Saturday to criticize ultra-conservatives after bishops ended a three-week gathering that softened the Church's doctrine on divorcees but maintained its strict line towards homosexuals.

In a speech, the pope said Church leaders should confront difficult issues "fearlessly, without burying our heads in the sand."

He said the synod had "laid bare the closed hearts which frequently hide even behind the Church's teachings or good intentions, in order to sit in the chair of Moses and judge, sometimes with superiority and superficiality, difficult cases and wounded families." (Reporting by Philip Pullella, Editing by Mark Trevelyan)