Despite a threatened protest by clergy from non-Catholic organizations, the Diocese of Phoenix will go ahead with its October 16 seminar on the Manhattan Declaration. The diocese maintains that the document upholds Catholic teachings that the Church cannot compromise.
The diocese will host Princeton professor Robert George, Alliance Defense Fund president and general counsel Alan Sears, and the Susan B. Anthony List's president Marjorie Dannenfelser for the Saturday morning event at the Diocesan Pastoral Center. Speakers will discuss the social and legal controversies surrounding abortion, homosexual “marriage,” and emerging threats to religious liberty.
Although explicitly Christian in nature, the Manhattan Declaration puts forth positions regarded as a matter of basic human reason and natural law by many religious and philosophical traditions. It was launched in 2009 with support from 53 Catholic bishops and three cardinals, alongside Eastern Orthodox and Protestant clergy.
Nevertheless, a group drawn from various denominations, called “No Longer Silent,” has called the declaration “spiritually violent and hateful.” They have condemned the positions presented in the Manhattan Declaration, judging it to be a work of “condemnation and judgment.”
As a result, the group is organizing a public protest outside St. Mary's Basilica in downtown Phoenix on the morning of the seminar.
A flier for the protest on No Longer Silent's website asserts that “the Manhattan Declaration declares war on LGBT and women's rights.” However, taking a different tone on its official Facebook page, the advocacy group lamented “polarization and mistrust” that have “displaced communication and understanding” in the discussion of controversial topics.
But on Thursday the Diocese of Phoenix indicated that the “misunderstanding” lay on the side of No Longer Silent and its leadership, in their characterization of the Manhattan Declaration.
“We gladly embrace our duty of putting our faith into action in defense of human life, marriage and religious liberty … and we do so with respect, love, compassion and joy in the truth of Jesus Christ,” the diocese stated.
Noting the Church's commitment to human dignity and the authentic rights of all people, the diocese urged “everyone to study and reflect on the Manhattan Declaration.”
This weekend's conference, the diocesan statement said, was an important call to first principles. “We do not compromise on our core principles, nor do we turn our backs on our nation or its most vulnerable citizens.”