Nearly 800,000 Catholics demand clarification on marriage and the family

Reuters

Almost 800,000 people, including 202 Bishops, have signed a petition to Pope Francis seeking clarification of Church teachings on marriage and the family.

The Filial Appeal, which received 790,150 signatures, expressed the "widespread confusion" around Church teachings on marriage and the family following last year's Extraordinary Synod.

It seeks Pope Francis' clarification, and argued "a word from Your Holiness is the only way to clarify the growing confusion among the faithful."

The Extraordinary Synod last year focussed specifically on marriage and the family. The pope chose not to participate in debates to encourage freedom of discussion.

This freedom and the lack of any papal refutations of controversial statements made at the Synod has led concerned Catholics, spanning 178 countries, to sign the Filial Appeal.

There is concern that "a breach" was opened at the Synod, "that would accept adultery – by permitting divorced and then civilly remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion – and would virtually accept even homosexual unions when such practices are categorically condemned as being contrary to Divine and natural law."

The signatories appealed to the pope to give a "word" of clarification, to prevent the "growing confusion among the faithful."

"It would prevent the very teaching of Jesus Christ from being watered-down and would dispel the darkness looming over our children's future should that beacon no longer light their way," the petition states.

It appeals to the pope not to "disassociate pastoral practice from the teaching bequeathed by Jesus Christ."

The initiative's spokesperson, Professor Tommasso Scandroglio, said the popularity of the Filial Appeal indicates "that a substantial number of believers are very worried about certain theological tendencies present in the Church today."

Only 8 of 219 cardinals have signed the petition, which Scandroglio said was largely to do with the technical nature of the petition. However some chose not to sign "for reasons of prudence" as they "interpreted the petition as criticism of the Holy Father."

This was not the intention, Scandroglio insisted.

The response from the pope is likely to be informal, but the organisers have said it will be published when they receive it.

The 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops begins on 4 October, addressing "the vocation and mission of the Family in the Church and the Contemporary World."

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