Asked about the claim that the Manhattan Declaration neglects social justice issues, Archbishop Chaput pointed to the “outstanding” track record of the Catholic Church and other religious communities in serving the poor, the immigrant, the homeless and the infirm.
In his view, the claim that the Declaration neglects such issues is “without merit” and “designed to distract.”
To the argument that the Declaration violates the separation of church and state because it features Christians telling the government what to do, the archbishop replied:
“In the United States, citizens ‘tell government what to do’ all the time. It’s called democracy.”
Nothing in the U.S. Constitution bars religious communities, religious leaders or individual believers from taking a “vigorous role” in public debate, he added.
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“In fact, the American system depends on exactly the opposite: In order to survive, our democracy requires citizens to advance their beliefs energetically and without apologies in the public square.”
The archbishop explained that he was not involved in the development of the Manhattan Declaration, but said he knows and respects many of the other signatories. He reported that the main Catholic input for the Declaration was provided by Princeton University’s Professor Robert P. George.
The Declaration’s signers want people to realize “how difficult” the present moment in U.S. history is, he added.