A Layman’s Petition to Francis

Last week, James Todd, founder of the Catholic aggregator site Pewsitter.com, launched a petition to Pope Francis to clarify the meaning of Amoris Laetitia. Please, your Majesty, what precisely is the status of the divorced-and-remarried vis-a-vis reception of the Eucharist?



The petition reads in part:

Amoris Laetitia has brought confusion to what had been 2000 years of clarity. Because Amoris Laetitia is fracturing the unity of the Church whereby one diocese teaches differently than another on this fundamental tenant of the faith, something must be done.  In fact, within the last month Cardinal Caffarra stated ,’We are no longer witnesses, but deserters, if we do not speak openly and publicly.’

And that brings us to the impact of this doctrine on the laity, and to the sensus fidelium, which is a sort of spiritual instinct that enables the faithful believer to judge whether a particular teaching or practice is or is not in conformity with the Gospel and with apostolic faith. And in this regard we must convey most emphatically, but with charity, that this practice of allowing communion for the divorced and remarried is wrong and must be stopped, remembering that, as specified in Canon 212: The Catholic faithful have ‘ . . . the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church.’

It is with these things in mind that we launch this petition effort asking the Pope to clarify Amoris Laetitia.  Whether this petition will have any impact is in God’s hands and, to a lesser extent, dependent on the number of people that sign it. And so we humbly launch this petition and pray for God’s intercession on our behalf. We pray for the Pope and we pray that many people will respond to this effort.

I am a bit wary of leaving things in God’s hands. That is too often a pious excuse for throwing up one’s hands before all action has been exhausted. At the same time, I do not believe that any petition to Francis will move him to clarify the very confusion he intends.


The Prince Regent standing on a dais, facing City aldermen and other subjects who are kneeling obsequiously to present loyal addresses. Radical petitioners are staggering back from the blast issuing from the Regent’s posterior. (1819)


He is taking the Fabian route, changing an established doctrine by degrees. It is the work of decades. Over time, the relaxed rule will gradually—silently, and by default—become Tradition. Deprived of air, the ancient doctrinal prohibition and protocol will dwindle until it dies by suffocation. Ambiguity is a strategy, not a flaw to be corrected.

Nevertheless, there is value in a petition from the laity. While Francis will be impervious to it, bishops will not. Some good men have their eye on the truth of things. Others, not. But all are stewards of the solvency of their archdiocese. It is laymen, after all, who finance every archdiocese—from diocesan priests’ salaries and pensions on up the ladder of institutional needs and initiatives. The petition makes no mention of filthy lucre. But it does not have to. The number of signatures provides a gauge by which bishops can calibrate the practical effects of resisting Bergoglian revisionism or assenting to it.

Say what you will about the treasure that is not of this world, keeping the lights on matters. So, yes, as James Todd states, much depends on how many signatures any such petition acquires. Read the petition in full here.


Vladimir Makovsky. Study for painting “Bloody Sunday” (1905). The Russian Revolution broke out after troops fired on protesters trying to deliver a petition to Czar Nicholas II.