In light of the developments of this week, it occurs to me that it’s important to keep the pressure on, and to create verifiable evidence of our resistance to the attack on marriage that is spreading with breathtaking rapidity throughout the Church.
In light of that, there are two efforts that I had previously not given much attention to for the simple reason that I have a general distaste for signing things directed at the Holy See. The Church is not a democracy. I don’t like the idea that we — especially those of us in the United States where such efforts are so common — are beginning to think of bishops or popes as akin to elected representatives who should be subject to the will of the people.
But in times like these, it matters to go on the record. To show support. To make it clear that although they dismiss our concerns, the concerns nevertheless exist. It’s not about numbers, or even about whether they care. It’s about taking a stand.
The first such effort is a petition to Pope Francis in support of the Four Cardinals’ dubia. It is short and to the point, associated with LifeSiteNews, and perhaps best of all, allows you the option (for a nominal fee to cover printing and postage) to send a postcard to the pope with your message. I was willing to pay for that service. Mail is harder to ignore than a document with electronic signatures. You can sign this petition here.
The other effort is the much more detailed “Declaration of Fidelity to the Church’s Unchangeable Teaching on Marriage and to Her Uninterrupted Discipline“.
This is a declaration that Bishop Schneider has personally been promoting as he travels the world speaking about the crisis in the Church. It is a reaffirmation of what the Church believes in the face of so much confusion and error. He considers it very important for Catholics to put their names on this document. You can sign it at the link above, but I will share with you an email I received about the effort below. I hope you’ll consider both of these efforts, if you haven’t already.
On the eve of the Ordinary Synod on the Family held in Rome in October 2015, we delivered to the Holy See a “Filial Petition to His Holiness on the Future of the Family” signed by 879,451 persons, including eight cardinals and 203 archbishops and bishops, asking for a word of clarification to dispel the confusion that had spread facing the possible access to the Holy Eucharist by divorced and civilly “remarried” Catholics.
With or without reason, formulations in both documents, namely the Synod’s Final Report and the Post-Synodal Exhortation Amoris Laetitia have been interpreted as enabling that access after a “case by case” discernment. Authoritative ecclesiastical pronouncements revealed that these documents have often given rise to contradictions and conflicting opinions, even among shepherds. This helped create further confusion among the faithful regarding the teaching of the Church on the indissolubility of marriage and on the conditions required to receive the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist.
In a public statement, his Excellency Most Rev. Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of Astana, has suggested that, while respectfully waiting for that clarification, all Catholics who still take their baptismal vows seriously should make a declaration of fidelity in unison, specifically and clearly stating all the Catholic truths that have been weakened or ambiguously distorted since Cardinal Walter Kasper proposed that the Church change her discipline (February 2014).
Inspired by Bishop Schneider’s invitation, the Filial Petition organizers have prepared Declaration of Fidelity to the Church’s Unchangeable Teaching on Marriage and to her Uninterrupted Discipline.
In an interview with Dr. Maike Hickson of OnePeterFive, Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, the retired archbishop of Bologna, founder and first president of the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family, one of the greatest moralists of the Church, went so far as to state that:
In Amoris Laetitia  the Holy Father Francis writes: “I understand those who prefer a more rigorous pastoral care which leaves no room for confusion.” I infer from these words that His Holiness realizes that the teachings of the Exhortation could give rise to confusion in the Church. Personally, I wish – and that is how so many of my brothers in Christ (cardinals, bishops, and the lay faithful alike) also think – that the confusion should be removed, but not because I prefer a more rigorous pastoral care, but because, rather, I simply prefer a clearer and less ambiguous pastoral care.
After reaffirming 27 fundamental moral truths to be held not only as still valid but unchangeable, the Declaration concludes that “while our neo-pagan world wages a general attack against the divine institution of marriage, and the plagues of divorce and sexual depravity spread everywhere, even within the life of the Church, we, the undersigned bishops, priests and Catholic faithful, consider it our duty and privilege to declare, with one voice, our fidelity to the Church’s unchangeable teachings on marriage and to Her uninterrupted discipline, as received from the Apostles. Indeed, only the clarity of truth will set people free (John 8: 32) and enable them to find the true joy of love, by living a life in accordance with the wise and saving will of God, in other words, avoiding sin, as maternally requested by Our Lady in Fatima, in 1917.”
Initially, the Declaration received the adhesion of 81 Catholic personalities, including three cardinals, three bishops and a large number of academics and representatives of both the ecclesiastical and civil spheres. To this list were rapidly added more than 17,000 signatories, many of whom are bishops, priests, professors of Catholic theology and religion, catechists, seminary rectors and Catholic teachers.
If you still have not done so, we invite you to sign the Declaration. We do so with the awareness that you already had kindly signed the Filial Appeal addressed to the Holy Father between the two Synods on the Family.
We count on your support for this new initiative so that the Catholic Church may continue to be seen by our contemporaries as the firm stronghold of marriage and the family amidst a hedonistic and relativistic world.
In Christo Domino,
Kenneth J. Drake
For Filial Appeal