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FRONT ROYAL, VA, February 20, 2015 ( — A Virginia Catholic parish is publicly affirming Church teaching on marriage and its fidelity to the Church, while at the same time calling on Pope Francis to proclaim and defend the same.

In the wake of the October Extraordinary Synod on the Family in Rome, Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church in Front Royal produced an Affirmation of Faith Concerning Marriage and the Family, and published it in their Sunday bulletin on December 14.

Now the parish is urging other parishes and Catholic individuals to join them.

“There have been other times in Church history where the Faithful have recalled the clergy to the fullness of the Truths of the Faith, so this action has historical precedent,” Deacon Eugene McGuirk told LifeSiteNews. “It is the hope of the people of St. John the Baptist parish, that this action will be repeated in parishes from around the world, so that the pope and the Curia will be encouraged to promote only the constant Truth about sacramental marriage, and to avoid improper novelties of doctrine or practice.”

The entire text of the Affirmation of Faith Concerning Marriage and the Family is available for download here (.DOC file).

Deacon McGuirk said that the parish’s pastor, Rev. Jerome W. Fasano, asked parishioners to take the affirmation home and read it, then for each member of the household to sign it and return it to the parish.

“Our small parish answered the pastor’s call.  The faithful of St. John the Baptist parish contributed nearly 700 signatures to be sent to the pope,” he said.

The parish sent the signatures to Cardinal Müller, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, asking him to present them personally to the pope.

The synod was fraught with controversy in many ways, including unfortunate signs of disregard on the part of some for the African Church, and also with the synod mid-term report released in an atypical move, containing indication of attempts to change Church doctrine on marriage and homosexuality. The final document, inexplicably containing content that had received insufficient support for inclusion from synod fathers, added to the confusion, leaving the upcoming 2015 synod the subject of much conjecture and uncertainty.

Catholics around the world are speculating on the implications for the Church going forward and how to respond to the feeling many have of coveting direction.

The St. John the Baptist Parish affirmation of faith was a response to the synod’s ensuing turmoil.

“Issues were raised and discussed during the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in Rome,” it said, “touching upon essential elements of the teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Magisterium, resulting in much confusion amidst the laity, and distortion by the secular media, so that we find ourselves deeply stirred to manifest our fidelity to Our Lord and His Church by publicly reaffirming those parts of Catholic Doctrine that seem to have been in doubt.”

The idea for the Affirmation of Faith Concerning Marriage and the Family originated with a Saint John the Baptist parishioner, who ran it by St. John’s pastor for review and approval.

“Our hope is that people will imitate this and do it in their own parishes,” parish secretary Karen Pondo told LifeSiteNews.

“It was always the hope of our parish that other Catholic institutions would become a part of a Church-wide action of the Faithful, and promote the Affirmation,” said Deacon McGuirk. “We hope that many Catholic web sites will carry the Affirmation for people to download and use.  We hope that Catholics will find the Affirmation and bring it to the attention of their pastors and parishes, and that this project will grow around the world and provide a fountain of Grace for the Church.”

The parish confirmed its fidelity and obedience to the Church in the affirmation, beseeching the Holy Father to assert and protect her creed.

“We thereby reaffirm our submission to the One, True Church,” the affirmation stated, “and plead with Pope Francis, Christ’s Vicar on earth, to proclaim and defend the authentic teaching of the Magisterium against those within and without the Church who seek to misrepresent, dilute or contradict the truths relating to marriage and family life.”

The affirmation gave voice to Church teaching in the areas of marriage and family, before putting forth prayer for the intercession of the Blessed Mother to protect the Church in this difficult era.

It concluded by invoking St. John the Baptist and St. Thomas More, who were both martyred for their defense of marriage, to pray for the Church as she prepares for next year’s synod.

Sign a petition urging Pope Francis to defend Church teaching on marriage and family here.

Contact information of Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Mueller for parishes to send their affirmation:

Gerhard Ludwig Cardinal Müller
Prefetto della Congregazione per la Dottrina della fede
Palazzo del Sant'Uffizio
00120 Citta del Vaticano