Commentary

A Counter-Sign of the Times

John Horvat II
By John Horvat II | March 25, 2015 | 3:48 PM EDT

Pope Francis at the Vatican. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

It is easy to dismiss the decay of Christian morals as a sign of the times against which not much can be done. For example, many see the fact that the traditional family is no longer considered a means for the security of our future as simply a sign of the times. The same might be said about the denial that a father and a mother constitute the two most natural and normal components of a family.

It is the dramatic contrast between past and present situations that makes signs of the times so expressive and compelling. They are often presented by media as unstoppable juggernauts. People are told that it is useless to resist them.  It is better to go with the flow of things and stay on the right side of history.

However, history does not always work that way. Signs of the times are often stopped and reversed by equally dramatic and unexpected counter-signs that oppose them.

One current example of a counter-sign of the times is an extraordinary petition to Pope Francis I now being circulated, asking that the family be defended. What makes this effort so amazingly dramatic is the fact that the petition was not prompted by the actions of radical secularists, but by those of actual Catholic churchmen whose ambiguous statements about human sexuality threaten to compromise Christ’s teachings on the family.

Pope Francis opens the morning session of a two-week synod on famiy issues at the Vatican, on Saturday. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

An alliance of some thirty pro-family groups worldwide has joined together with what it calls a “Filial Appeal” asking that a clear word be said in defense of the family at the coming October 2015 Synod of Bishops. It should be explained that at the synod held last October, statements by key prelates suggested changes favorable to homosexual unions and acceptance of giving communion to those divorced and civilly remarried. The petition effort is spearheaded by the various Societies for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) existing around the world, as well as other participating pro-family organizations.

It is natural that only Catholics would be encouraged to sign the petition. But what makes this particular effort a dramatic counter-sign of the times is that everyone is invited to sign. Catholics and non-Catholics alike are registering their concerns on the Internet or on paper petition forms—and they are signing up with great enthusiasm. And why not? The Catholic position on the family is one of the few remaining anchors affirming God’s marriage. It is in the interest of all those fighting for the traditional family to make their opinion heard.

Moreover, this is not an effort of old people clinging to dying values. It is a counter-sign of the times that all sorts of people from all social classes, ages and occupations are signing up. After all, the family belongs to everyone. Looking at the list of counter-signers, one sees an exiled African king, princes, political leaders, congressmen or a senator. There are businessmen, professors, doctors, laborers, plumbers, housewives, or students. Cardinals, bishops, priests or deacons, religious sisters and ministers join people from so many continents and countries disputing the false claim that the battle for traditional marriage is over. Key figures include Leo Cardinal Burke, former King Kigeli V of Rwanda, and Senator Rick Santorum. There are already nearly 160,000 signatures on the petition. Its sponsors hope to get well over a million.

There are other counter-signs of the times appearing on the horizon: reactions against abortion, efforts to restore sound education and initiatives promoting Christian business.  All these form part of a great desire for a return to order by many Christians who know that God is always on the right side of history. Our part consists of reading into and acting upon the counter-signs of the times.

To sign the petition, please click here.

John Horvat II is a scholar, researcher, educator, international speaker, and author of the book Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Soceity--Where We've Been, How We Go Here, and Where We Need to Go. He lives in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania, where he is the vice president of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property.


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