His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, and the Very Rev. Chad Hatfield, Chancellor of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, were among some 125 US religious leaders who signed a 4,700-word declaration addressing the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, and religious liberty here recently.
The statement, known as the “Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience,” issues “a clarion call” to Christians to adhere to their convictions and informs civil authorities that the signers will not “under any circumstance” abandon their Christian consciences. The text of the declaration, which already has generated considerable controversy, was released on Friday, November 20, 2009.
“The Manhattan Declaration is the result of several months of dialogue among Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christian leaders culminating in a gathering of approximately 100 leaders in New York City on September 28, 2009,” Catholic News Agency [CNA] reports. “Attendees considered an early draft… but the document was entrusted to a drafting committee.”
“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,” the Declaration reads. “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,” the signatories explain.
But, CNA reports, they also made clear that “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.”
The signatories explained that they speak now because in order “to defend principles of justice and the common good that are now under assault.”
“We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but we will under no circumstances render to Caesar what is God’s.”
The full text of the declaration may be read at http://www.manhattandeclaration.org