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From the Countries

The Manhattan Declaration A Call of Christian Conscience

On November 20, 2009, a group over 170 Christian leaders in the United States signed a document pledging that they, and the congregations they led, would abide by certain fundamental, shared Christian principles. This coalition of Christian groups pledges to place these social principles above any law or statute, even if that means civil disobedience.

The Declaration’s web site sums up the key social issues as

  • the sanctity of human life

  • the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife

  • the rights of conscience and religious liberty.

“Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society,” the site explains, “they are inviolable and non-negotiable.” It goes on to outline that:

“Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

The Declaration itself details the terms of this commitment:

“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.”

The Declaration boasts the signatures of such notable Christian leaders as Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, Dr. James Dobson, and Metr. Jonah Paffhausen, and, at the time of this writing, has more than 275,000 individual signatures.

So what’s next? The drafters of the Manhattan Declaration urge signatories to pray, educate themselves, and spread the word. The hope, according to drafter Charles Colson, is to call attention to the “hierarchy of issues,” and to restore to Christians “rights which we’ve had since the founding of this nation” and “rights which are intrinsic to what makes a good society and a just society.”

John Paul II’s Warning to the World Still Rings True Today

The Manhattan Declaration reminds those of us at the Population Research Institute of the words of the then-Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, who in speaking to the American Bishops in 1976 said the following:

“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel and the anti-Gospel. This confrontation lies within the plans of Divine Providence, It is a trial which the whole Church must take up.”

The immediate confrontation referred to by the future Pope was between the Church and the Soviet Empire, from which the Church, under his inspired leadership, emerged victorious some years later. The communists and socialists have regrouped under the banner of the green movement, however, and are now moving once again in directions inimical to Life and Family.

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