Pro-life leaders: Faithful to true doctrine, not to erring pastors
12 December 2017
Thirty-seven leaders of pro-life, pro-family organisations have published a “Pledge of Fidelity” to the unchanging teaching of the Catholic Church.
The pledge is issued at a time when erroneous doctrines are being publicly taught by prominent members of the hierarchy, including Pope Francis, causing confusion and scandal throughout the Church.
The pledge highlights numerous statements and actions which have had a particularly damaging impact on the work of the pro-life and pro-family movement in recent years. These include statements and actions concerning contraception, homosexuality, divorce and sex-education.
The full text of the pledge, and the list of signatories, can be found below and at www.fidelitypledge.com.
Pledge of fidelity to the authentic teaching of the Church by pro-life and pro-family leaders
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, 12 December 2017
The number of innocent children killed by abortion during the last century is greater than that of all the human beings who have died in all the wars in recorded history. The last fifty years have witnessed a continual escalation in attacks on the structure of the family as designed and willed by God, which provides the best environment for human flourishing, and, especially, for the education and formation of children. Divorce, contraception, acceptance of homosexual acts and unions, and the spread of “gender ideology” have all done immeasurable damage to the family, and its most vulnerable members.
Over the last fifty years the pro-life and pro-family movement has grown in both size and scope in order to confront these grave evils, which threaten both the temporal and eternal good of mankind. Our movement comprises men and women of good will from a wide variety of religious backgrounds. We are brought together in our defence of the family, and of the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters, through obedience to the natural law, which is written on all our hearts (cf. Rm 2:15). However, throughout this last half century the pro-life and pro-family movement has relied in a particular way on the immutable teaching of the Catholic Church, which affirms the moral law with the greatest clarity.
It is therefore with great sorrow that during recent years we have witnessed doctrinal and moral clarity, on issues relating to the protection of human life and the family, increasingly being replaced by ambiguity, and even by doctrines directly contrary to the teaching of Christ and the precepts of the natural law.
A Filial Appeal, delivered to Pope Francis in September 2015, was signed by around 900,000 people from all over the world and a “Declaration of fidelity to the unchangeable teaching of the Church on matrimony” was presented in 2016. On 19 September, 2016 four cardinals submitted five dubia to Pope Francis, and to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, asking for the clarification of certain points of doctrine in the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia. In June 2017, the cardinals made public their request for an audience, which had been presented to the Pope by Cardinal Carlo Caffarra on 25 April 2017, but which, like the dubia, had received no response. On 23 September 2017 a Correctio filialis de haeresibus propagatis was issued by 62 Catholic theologians and academics “on account of the propagation of heresies effected by the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia and by other words, deeds and omissions” of Pope Francis. By 4 November 2017, 250 theologians, priests, professors and scholars of all nationalities had pledged their support to the Correctio. The disorder within the Church is increasing, as witnessed by a letter recently sent to Pope Francis by a prominent theologian, which, the author stated, was prompted by “turmoil within the Church today, a chaos and an uncertainty that I felt Pope Francis had himself caused.”[i]
As Catholic pro-life and pro-family leaders, we are obliged to highlight numerous additional statements and actions, which have had a particularly damaging impact on our work for the protection of unborn children and the family in recent years. Representative examples include:
- statements and actions which contradict the Church’s teaching on the intrinsic evil of contraceptive acts;[ii]
- statements and actions which contradict the Church’s teaching on the nature of marriage and the intrinsic evil of sexual acts outside the union of marriage;[iii]
- the approval of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which effectively call for member states to achieve universal access to abortion, contraception and sex education by 2030;[iv]
- the approach adopted towards sex education, particularly in chapter 7 of Amoris Laetitia and in The Meeting Point programme produced by the Pontifical Council for the Family.[v]
As leaders within the pro-life and pro-family movement, or leaders of lay movements concerned with the defence and diffusion of Catholic moral and social teaching, we have witnessed first-hand the harm and confusion caused by such teaching and actions. In order to fulfil our responsibilities to those whom we have pledged to protect, in particular unborn children and those made especially vulnerable by the breakdown of the family, we must provide clarity on our position on these issues. We must also provide leadership to those within our movement who look to us for guidance and advice.
For this reason, we wish to make clear our unchanging adherence to the fundamental moral positions outlined below:
- there exist certain acts which are intrinsically evil and which it is always forbidden to commit;[vi]
- the direct killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral; consequently, abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide are intrinsically evil acts;[vii]
- marriage is the exclusive and indissoluble union of one man and one woman; all sexual acts outside of marriage, including in all forms of non-marital union, are intrinsically evil and gravely injurious to individuals and to society;[viii]
- adultery is a grave sin, and those who live in adultery cannot be admitted to the sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion, until such time as they repent and amend their lives;[ix]
- parents are the primary educators of their children, and the provision of sex education must be undertaken by parents or, in certain circumstances, “in educational centres chosen and controlled by them”;[x]
- the separation of the procreative and unitive ends of the sexual act by contraceptive methods is intrinsically evil and has devastating consequences for the family, for society and for the Church;[xi]
- methods of artificial reproduction are gravely immoral as they separate procreation from the sexual act and, in the great majority of cases, lead directly to the destruction of human life in its earliest stages;[xii]
- there are only two sexes, male and female, each of which possesses the complementary characteristics and differences that are proper to them;[xiii]
- homosexual acts are intrinsically evil, and no form of union between persons of the same sex can be approved in any way. [xiv]
As Catholic pro-life and pro-family leaders we must remain faithful to Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has entrusted the deposit of faith to his Church. We “are obliged to yield to God the revealer full submission of intellect and will by faith.”[xv] We fully assent to all those things “which are contained in the word of God as found in Scripture and Tradition, and which are proposed by the Church as matters to be believed as divinely revealed, whether by her solemn judgment or in her ordinary and universal magisterium.”[xvi]
We pledge our full obedience to the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in the legitimate exercise of its authority. However, nothing will ever persuade us, or compel us, to abandon or contradict any article of the Catholic faith or any truth definitively established. If there is any conflict between the words and acts of any member of the hierarchy, even the pope, and the doctrine that the Church has always taught, we will remain faithful to the perennial teaching of the Church. If we were to depart from the Catholic faith, we would depart from Jesus Christ, to Whom we wish to be united for all eternity.
We, the undersigned, pledge that we will continue to teach and propagate the above moral principles, and every other authentic teaching of the Catholic Church, and will never, for any reason, depart from them.
Bernard Antony, President of Chrétienté-Solidarité (France)
Dame Colleen Bayer, DSG, Founding Director of Family Life International NZ (New Zealand)
Judie Brown, President of American Life League (United States)
Patrick Buckley, Director of European Life Network (Ireland)
Georges Buscemi, President of Campagne Quebec Vie (Canada)
Giorgio Celsi, President of Associazione “Ora et Labora in Difesa della Vita” (Italy)
Dr. Anca-Maria Cernea, MD, Ioan Barbus Foundation (Romania)
Greg Clovis, Director of Family Life International UK (United Kingdom)
Rev. Linus F. Clovis, Spiritual Director of Family Life International St Lucia (St Lucia)
Virginia Coda Nunziante, President of Associazione Famiglia Domani (Italy)
Modesto Fernandez, President of Droit de Naître (France)
Richard P. Fitzgibbons, M.D., Director of the Institute for Marital Healing (United States)
Mathias von Gersdorff, Director of Aktion Kinder in Gefahr (Germany)
Corrado Gnerre, National Director of Il Cammino dei Tre Sentieri (Italy)
Doug Grane, Chief Executive of Serviam (United States)
Michael Hichborn, President of the Lepanto Institute (United States)
Jason Jones, Founder of I am Whole Life, Founder of Movie to Movement (United States)
John Lacken, Founder of Legio Sanctae Familiae, Secretary of the Lumen Fidei Institute (Ireland)
François Legrier, President of Mouvement Catholique des Familles (France)
Vittorio Lodolo D’Oria, President of Famiglie Numerose Cattoliche (Italy)
Samuele Maniscalco, Director of Generazione Voglio Vivere (Italy)
Christine de Marcellus Vollmer, President of Asociacion Provida de Venezuela (PROVIVE), President of Alianza Latinoamericana para la Familia (ALAFA), President of Alive to the World, Education in Integrity (Venezuela)
Roberto de Mattei, President of Fondazione Lepanto (Italy)
Jean-Pierre Maugendre, President of Renaissance Catholique (France)
Thomas McKenna, President of Catholic Action for Faith and Family (United States)
Anthony Murphy, Director of Catholic Voice (Ireland)
Marisa Orecchia, President of Federvita Piemonte (Italy)
Philippe Piloquet, President of SOS Tout-petits (France)
Philippe Schepens M.D., Secretary-General of the World Federation of Doctors Who Respect Human Life (Belgium)
John Smeaton, Chief Executive of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (United Kingdom)
Molly Smith, President of Bringing America Back to Life, Executive Director of Cleveland Right to Life (United States)
Guillaume de Thieulloy, Director of Le Salon Beige (France)
Yves Tillard, President of Action Familiale et Scolaire (France)
Dr. Thomas Ward, President of the National Association of Catholic Families (United Kingdom)
John-Henry Westen, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of LifeSiteNews (Canada)
Mercedes Arzú Wilson, Founder and President of Family of the Americas Foundation (Nicaragua)
Diego Zoia, Director of SOS Ragazzi (Italy)
[i] “Fr. Thomas G. Weinandy explains his critical letter to Pope Francis”, Catholic World Report, 1 November 2017, http://www.catholicworldreport.com/2017/11/01/fr-thomas-g-weinandy-explains-his-critical-letter-to-pope-francis/.
[ii] “On the ‘lesser evil,’ avoiding pregnancy, we are speaking in terms of the conflict between the fifth and sixth commandment. Paul VI, a great man, in a difficult situation in Africa, permitted nuns to use contraceptives in cases of rape. Don’t confuse the evil of avoiding pregnancy by itself, with abortion. Abortion is not a theological problem, it is a human problem, it is a medical problem. You kill one person to save another, in the best case scenario. Or to live comfortably, no? It’s against the Hippocratic oaths doctors must take. It is an evil in and of itself, but it is not a religious evil in the beginning, no, it’s a human evil. Then obviously, as with every human evil, each killing is condemned. On the other hand, avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one, or in the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear.” “Full text of Pope Francis’ in-flight interview from Mexico to Rome”, Catholic News Agency, 18 February 2016, https://www.catholicnewsag ency.com/news/full-text-of-pope-francis-in-flight-interview-from-mexico-to-rome-85821. Fr Federic Lombardi, the Holy See’s spokesman, Fr Lombardi, confirmed the meaning of the pope’s words the following day: “Allora il contraccettivo o il preservativo, in casi di particolare emergenza e gravità, possono anche essere oggetto di un discernimento di coscienza serio. Questo dice il Papa.” “P. Lombardi commenta i temi affrontati dal Papa con i giornalisti”, Radio Vaticana, 19 February 2016, http://it.radiovaticana.va/news/2016/02/19/p_lombardi _commenta_i_temi_del_papa_con_i_giornalisti/1209799. Translation: “The contraceptive or condom, in particular cases of emergency or gravity, could be the object of discernment in a serious case of conscience. This is what the Pope said.”
[iii] “In the Argentine countryside, in the Northeastern region, there is a superstition: that couples have a child, they live together. In the countryside this happens. Then, when the child must go to school, they have a civil marriage. And then, as grandparents, they have a religious marriage. It is a superstition, because they say that having a religious wedding straight away scares the husband! We must also fight against these superstitions. Yet really, I say that I have seen a great deal of fidelity in these cohabiting couples, a great deal of fidelity; and I am certain that this is a true marriage, they have the grace of matrimony, precisely because of the fidelity that they have. But there are local superstitions.” “Address of His Holiness Pope Francis at the opening of the pastoral congress of the Diocese of Rome”, 16 June 2016, https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2016/june/documents/papa-francesco_20160616_convegno-diocesi-roma.html. During this congress Pope Francis also claimed that “a great majority” of Catholic marriages are invalid. The transcript was later altered, at the request of the pope, to read “a part”. Fr Lombardi commented: “When it’s a matter of topics of a certain importance, the revised text is always submitted to the pope himself. This is what happened in this case, thus the published text was expressly approved by the pope.” “Updated: Most Marriages Today Are Invalid, Pope Francis Suggests”, National Catholic Register, 17 June 2016.
[iv] “I am gratified that in September 2015 the nations of the world adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, and that, in December 2015, they approved the Paris Agreement on climate change.” “Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for the celebration of the world day of prayer for the care of creation”, 1 September 2016, http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/pont-messages/2016/documents/papa-francesco_20160901_messaggio-giornata-cura-creato.html. Further details about the Holy See’s support for the SDGS, and the manner in which the SDGs call for abortion, contraception and sex education see: “The impact of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals on children and the family, and their endorsement by the Holy See”, Voice of the Family, https://voiceofthefamily.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Impact-of-the-United-Nations-Sustainable-Development-Goals22-2-17-1.pdf.
[v] “The Meeting Point: project for affective and sexual formation”, Pontifical Council for the Family, http://www.educazioneaffettiva.org/?lang=en.
[vi] Pope John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 6 August 1993, No. 52. Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, 25 March 1995, No. 67.
[vii] Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, No. 57.
[viii] Canons and Decrees of the Twenty Fourth Session of the Council of Trent, Promulgated 11 November 1563; Pope Leo XIII, Arcanum Divinae, 10 February 1880; Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii, 31 December 1930.
[ix] Pope John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, 22 November 1981, No. 84; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church concerning the Admission to Holy Communion of the Faithful who are Divorced and Remarried, 4 September 1994; Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Declaration concerning the Admission to Holy Communion of the Faithful who are Divorced and Remarried; 24 June 2000.
[x] Pope Pius XI, Divini Illius Magistri, 31 December 1929; Pope John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio; Pontifical Council for the Family, The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, 8 December 1995.
[xi] Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii; Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, 25 July 1968.
[xii] Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Donum Vitae, 22 February 1987; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Dignitatis Personae, 8 September 2008.
[xiii] Pope Benedict XVI, Christmas Address to the Roman Curia, 21 December 2012.
[xiv] Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, 1 October 1986; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Considerations Regarding Proposals to give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons, 3 June 2003.
[xv] First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, Ch. 3.1.
[xvi] Ibid, Ch. 3.8.