View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Manhattan Declaration: Support Life and Faith

The Manhattan Declaration is a document initially signed by a group of prominent Christians (Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical) to defend the sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife, and the rights of conscience and religious liberty.

Since the initial signatures by many religious leaders and prominent Christians (I'm including a list of some of the Catholic signatories at the bottom of this post), and the Declaration's release on November 20, more than 250,000 people (including myself) have signed.

The Declaration reads in part:

"We, as Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians, have gathered, beginning in New York on September 28, 2009, to make the following declaration, which we sign as individuals, not on behalf of our organizations, but speaking to and from our communities. We act together in obedience to the one true God, the triune God of holiness and love, who has laid total claim on our lives and by that claim calls us with believers in all ages and all nations to seek and defend the good of all who bear his image. We set forth this declaration in light of the truth that is grounded in Holy Scripture, in natural human reason (which is itself, in our view, the gift of a beneficent God), and in the very nature of the human person. We call upon all people of goodwill, believers and non-believers alike, to consider carefully and reflect critically on the issues we here address as we, with St. Paul, commend this appeal to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.

While the whole scope of Christian moral concern, including a special concern for the poor and vulnerable, claims our attention, we are especially troubled that in our nation today the lives of the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly are severely threatened; that the institution of marriage, already buffeted by promiscuity, infidelity and divorce, is in jeopardy of being redefined to accommodate fashionable ideologies; that freedom of religion and the rights of conscience are gravely jeopardized by those who would use the instruments of coercion to compel persons of faith to compromise their deepest convictions.

Because the sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage as a union of husband and wife, and the freedom of conscience and religion are foundational principles of justice and the common good, we are compelled by our Christian faith to speak and act in their defense. In this declaration we affirm: 1) the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every human being as a creature fashioned in the very image of God, possessing inherent rights of equal dignity and life; 2) marriage as a conjugal union of man and woman, ordained by God from the creation, and historically understood by believers and non-believers alike, to be the most basic institution in society and; 3) religious liberty, which is grounded in the character of God, the example of Christ, and the inherent freedom and dignity of human beings created in the divine image.

We are Christians who have joined together across historic lines of ecclesial differences to affirm our right—and, more importantly, to embrace our obligation—to speak and act in defense of these truths. We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence. It is our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness, both in season and out of season. May God help us not to fail in that duty."

The Declaration goes on to declare that the signatories will not comply with laws that violate their beliefs. Civil disobedience could be the result!

"Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s."

Imagine if we can get 500,000 or a million signatures?

Here's some of the original signatories who are Catholic:

Bishop Sam Aquila (Diocese of Fargo), Archbishop Charles J. Chaput (Archdiocese of Denver), Timothy A. Chichester (Catholic Family Association of America), Bishop Salvatore Joseph Cordileone (Diocese of Oakland, CA), Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio (Diocese of Brooklyn), Bishop Timothy Dolan (Diocese of New York) Dr. William Donohue (Catholic League), Fr. Joseph D. Fessio (Ignatius Press), Dr. Peter Kreeft (Boston College), Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz (Archdiocese of Louisville), Adam Cardinal Maida (Archbishop Emeritus, Diocese of Detroit), Bishop Richard J. Malone (Diocese of Portland), Bishop Robert C. Morlino (Diocese of Madison), Archbishop John J. Myers (Archdiocese of Newark), Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann (Diocese of Kansas City), Archbishop John Nienstedt (Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis), Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted (Diocese of Phoenix), Justin Cardinal Rigali (Archdiocese of Philadelphia), Bishop Michael J. Sheridan (Diocese of Colorado Springs), Father Peter M.J. Stravinskas (The Catholic Response), George Weigel (Ethics and Public Policy Center), Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl (Archdiocese of Washington),Bishop David A. Zubik (Diocese of Pittsburgh).

Good company. Consider joining them

Go here to read the full Declaration, and to sign the petition.

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