Five cardinals are among the signatories to a petition organised by Catholic student association TFP Student Action

More than 500,000 people, including five cardinals, have signed a petition asking Pope Francis to reinforce Church teaching on marriage and the family at the synod of bishops in October.

The petition, launched by Catholic student association TFP Student Action and backed by 25 pro-family groups around the world, was posted on the organisation’s site in late January.

It has since been signed by five cardinals, 117 bishops and hundreds of civil leaders, in addition to the thousands of university students it was aimed at.

The cardinals who are signatories are Cardinal Raymond Burke, Cardinal Jorge Medina of Chile, Cardinal Ricardo Vidal of the Philippines, Cardinal Alexandre José Maria dos Santos, Mozambique, and Cardinal Jānis Pujats of Latvia.

Signatories from Britain include SPUC director John Smeaton, Luke Gormally, the director emeritus of the Ans­combe Bioethics Centre, journalist John Laughland and author Piers Paul Read. Other leading figures who signed the petition include former US senator Rick Santorum.

John Ritchie, director of TFP Student Action, said: “This prayerful petition asks Pope Francis to clear up the moral confusion that’s been spreading against natural and divine law.” Describing the Church as a “beacon of morality and stability in our godless culture”, Ritchie said that some statements from clergy that appeared to accept same-sex unions had caused confusion.

Ritchie also urged the Church not to “go along with the liberal pressures to soften Church moral discipline”. If the Church stood by its view on traditional marriage and family, he said, “God’s plan for marriage will win out against all attacks”.

He continued: “After Ireland and the US Supreme Court both approved same-sex marriage, a strong reaffirmation of Church teaching could save the sacred institution of marriage. The Catholic Church is the centre of history. It is the moral compass of the world. As the Church goes, so goes the world.”

The petition, called a “Filial Appeal to His Holiness Pope Francis on the Future of the Family”, will be hand delivered to the Vatican on September 29, the feast of St Michael the Archangel. It can be viewed at here.

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