Monday, March 1, 2010

Oakland bishop explains rationale behind Manhattan Declaration

"The foundation of everything else"

Oakland bishop explains rationale behind Manhattan Declaration, calls it "critical turning point in our nation's history"

Writing in his diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Voice, Oakland Bishop Salvatore Cordileone says the Manhattan Declaration brought together "over 100 leaders from the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Evangelical Protestant and Anglican traditions" in what he called "new ecumenical moment." 

"After centuries of differences and at times even hostilities, we experienced a new sense of unity, common purpose and just plain joy to be in each other's company," wrote Bishop Cordileone in a commentary published Feb. 22 in the 
Voice. "We realized that we can still respect differences while also doing what Pope John XXIII urged us to: focus on what unites us." 

Bishop Cordileone was among the original signers of the Manhattan Declaration, released on Nov. 20, 2009 by a group of prominent Christian clergy, ministry leaders and scholars. The 4700-word declaration addresses the sanctity of life, traditional marriage and religious liberty in the United States. The signers said they would not -- under any circumstances -- abandon their Christian consciences. 

In addition to Bishop Cordileone, other prominent Catholic prelates who signed the declaration in November included Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, Cardinal Adam Maida, Archbishop emeritus of Detroit, Bishop Richard Malone of Portland, Maine, Archbishop John Myers, of Newark, NJ, Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Naumann, Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul-Minneapolis, Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted, Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., Archbishop Donald Wuerl. 

Since then, scores of other Catholic bishops and archbishops from across the U.S. have signed the document, including San Diego Bishop Robert Brom. (For a full list of 'Religious & Organizational Leaders Signatories,' 
Click Here.) Altogether, according to the Manhattan Declaration website, more than 425,000 persons have signed the document. 

Among other things, the declaration states, "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… We recognize the duty to comply with laws whether we happen to like them or not, unless the laws are gravely unjust or require those subject to them to do something unjust or otherwise immoral… 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 marriage or the equivalent or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family." 

In his commentary on the declaration, Bishop Cordileone explains the thinking behind the document: "One may ask why the Declaration focuses on these issues. Certainly there are many other issues of social justice that, as people of faith, we should, and indeed are, working on. Life, marriage, and religious liberty, however, are the foundation of everything else, and we cannot have a healthy society if it is built on a faulty foundation. No matter how much good we do elsewhere, it will ultimately fail to achieve its end if the foundation is not solid." 

To read Bishop Cordileone's full commentary, 
Click Here

To read the Manhattan Declaration, 
Click Here.