December 21, 2009


Sr. Helena's note: "The Manhattan Declaration" is not simply platitudes. It is actually a call to civil disobedience if and when the occasion(s) arises.

“'The Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience.'"..goes beyond teaching clearly the truth about marriage and family and calls for prophetic witness against genocide, the destruction of the innocent in both war and in abortion, the neglect and abuse of children, the exploitation of vulnerable workers, the sexual trafficking of girls and a number of other issues related to the sanctity of human life and its transmital in marriage and family. Keeping love and life united preserves the common good of all in any society.

Adding to the importance of the 'Manhattan Declaration' is the way it addresses the threat to religious liberty and to freedom of conscience should the state presume to redefine marriage. Calling upon the memory and the example of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the declaration states: '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.'

As the group who wrote the declaration was being formed, I was asked to participate. I could not do so, not only because of time constraints but also because, as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I cannot sign statements or give endorsements that might seem to engage the bishops’ conference itself. The bishops who head up important committees of the USCCB, however, are able to sign and have done so. I intend to do so in a year, when my term as president concludes. In the meantime, I would encourage everyone to read the declaration available at . Those who agree with its call can signal their approval by signing it electronically.

Forming a family is never a purely private affair. Families are small societies that create the larger society we all participate in, whether or not we are married. Every one of us has a vested interest in protecting marriage and strengthening family life. This is God’s will for us as we move into celebrating the birth of Jesus. It takes faith to recognize who is born of the Virgin Mary. It takes love to offer our lives to him. It takes courage to follow him all our lives in his family, the church. God bless you."
--reprinted from "The Catholic New World," Chicago's Archdiocesan newspaper

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