The petition urges all faithful Catholics: "Join thousands of concerned bishops, priests and Catholic faithful declaring their fidelity to the unchangeable teachings of the Church on marriage and Her uninterrupted discipline."
Signatures on the Declaration include two cardinals who authored the set of "dubia" to the Pope: Cdl. Raymond Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, and Cdl. Carlo Caffarra, Archbishop emeritus of Bologna. Other names include Bp. Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan, Abp. Jãnis Cardinal Pujats of Riga, Latvia, and Bp. Andreas Laun of Salzburg, Austria.
The Declaration touches on six main topics, including "chastity, marriage and the rights of parents" as well as "the Church's maternal and pastoral attitude" toward each.
The petition began in August, and was started by concerned Catholic laymen and pro-life organizations.
The document reads,
Until recently, the Catholic Church was considered as the stronghold of true marriage and family, but errors about these two divine institutions are widespread today in Catholic circles, particularly after the Extraordinary and Ordinary Synods on the family, held in 2014 and 2015, respectively, and the publication of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Amoris Laetitia."
In the face of this offensive, the undersigned feel morally obliged to declare their resolve to remain faithful to the Church's unchangeable teachings on morals and on the Sacraments of Marriage, Reconciliation and the Eucharist, and to Her timeless and enduring discipline regarding those sacraments.
The Declaration even touches on areas that are hotly debated in Catholic circles, including the affirmation: "The definitive consecration of a person to God through a life of perfect chastity is objectively more excellent than marriage."
Cardinals Burke and Caffarra along with two other cardinals recently sent a set of "dubia" to Pope Francis with regard to ambiguities in "Amoris Laetitia," the Pope's apostolic exhortation on marriage and the family. Titled "Seeking Clarity: A Plea to Untie the Knots in 'Amoris Laetitia,'" the letter notes "a grave disorientation and great confusion" among the faithful over "contrasting interpretations" of "Amoris Laetitia."
Bishop Schneider, who also signed, told reporters in a recent interview that hostility to the "dubia" reminds of him of his time spent in Soviet Russia. "If you didn't follow the line of the party, or you questioned it," he commented, "you couldn't even ask. That is for me a very clear parallel to what is happening now in the reactions to the dubia."
Archbishop Fragkiskos Papamanolis, president of the Greek Episcopal Conference, recently charged the four cardinals responsible for the "dubia" of "apostasy" and "heresy."
"The reaction to the dubia is a proof of the climate in which we actually live in the Church right now," Schneider remarked. "We live in a climate of threats and of denial of dialogue towards a specific group."