Fr. Chad Hatfield: Introductory Remarks at Manhattan Declaration unveiling

Fr. Chad Hatfield, Chancellor of St. Vladimir’s Seminary, was an original co-signer of the Manhattan Declaration. Below are his introductory remarks at the unveiling of the document at the National Press Club on November, 20, 2009.


  1. The New York Times Magazine profiles Robert P. George:

    On a September afternoon, about 60 prominent Christians assembled in the library of the Metropolitan Club on the east side of Central Park. It was a gathering of unusual diversity and power. Many in attendance were conservative evangelicals like the born-again Watergate felon Chuck Colson, who helped initiate the meeting. Metropolitan Jonah, the primate of the Orthodox Church in America, was there as well. And so were more than half a dozen of this country’s most influential Roman Catholic bishops, including Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, Archbishop John Myers of Newark and Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia.

    At the center of the event was Robert P. George, a Princeton University professor of jurisprudence and a Roman Catholic who is this country’s most influential conservative Christian thinker. Dressed in his usual uniform of three-piece suit, New College, Oxford cuff links and rimless glasses­, George convened the meeting with a note of thanks and a reminder of its purpose. Alarmed at the liberal takeover of Washington and an apparent leadership vacuum among the Christian right, the group had come together to warn the country’s secular powers that the culture wars had not ended. As a starting point, George had drafted a 4,700-word manifesto that promised resistance to the point of civil disobedience against any legislation that might implicate their churches or charities in abortion, embryo-destructive research or same-sex marriage.

  2. Robert George would be an excellent person to deliver the Schmemann Lecture instead of Rowan Williams.

  3. “The Moral Witness of the Catholic Church: The Teaching of Vatican II on the Role of Bishops and Responsibility of the Lay Faithful” by Robert P. George (May 28, 2009):

    Despite clear and sometimes forceful condemnations of the judicially mandated regime of abortion-on-demand, the USCC [United States Catholic Conference] has had precious little success even in persuading many prominent self-identified Catholic legislators and other public officials to support the pro-life position. Why? Certainly the example set by certain high-profile Catholics then in public life, men such as New York Governors Mario Cuomo and George Pataki, Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, and particularly Fr. Robert Drinan, SJ—went far toward undermining the witness of the American church to the basic human rights of the unborn. But this, to some extent, begs the question: Why did these men think—rightly, as it turned out—that they could support legal abortion and even its public funding, and oppose pro-life initiatives, while holding themselves out as Catholics?

    In part, we argued, because individual Catholic bishops, and the USCC, had unwittingly diluted the impact of their own pro-life witness by speaking too much about too many issues in the properly secular order on which they had no particular authority as bishops to intervene, or, at least, no authority as bishops on which to declare one proposed policy superior to competing proposals as a matter of Christian faith. People were left with a false impression (one that the Cuomo’s and the Kennedy’s were all-too-happy to encourage) that the bishops’ advocacy of legal protection for the unborn was on a par with their advocacy of
    minimum-wage increases or farm subsidies—issues on which faithful Catholics could legitimately disagree with their shepherds. Worse yet, policymakers came to perceive and to treat the Catholic Church as simply another advocacy group on the order of, say, the Sierra Club or the Chamber of Commerce.

  4. The effort to make the Orthodox Church in the United State a political movement continues as the head of the Orthodox Church in America, Metropolitan Jonah joined Evanglicals and conservative Catholics signing the Manhattan Declaration recently. Unfortunately the declaration is full of half-truths and is misleading. The signers sincerely feel they are doing God’s work, however taking a closer look at the document they are being used to further divide this country by political partisans.

    The document claims to be non-partisan and strongly pro-life. That statement is misleading because the Republican Party has a anti-abortion plank in its platform. There is no way a strong pro-life person will vote for a pro-choice Democrat.

    The document claims to have a special concern for the poor and vulnerable, however the Republican party has consistently cuts social programs and fights issues such as increasing minimum wage and they try to weaken labor unions. They also want to eliminate the public option from any possible health care reform bill. Hardly pro-poor positions.

    They also attack a movement to promote assited suicide and voluntary euthanasia, gay marriage and stem cell research. They condemn promiscuity and infidelity but offer no solutions. They talk about imposing moral Chrisitan laws while ignoring the increasing secular nature of our culture. They fail to understand that in a democracy majority rules.

    They claim to be following the same path Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did during the Civil Rights struggles, however Dr. King never spoke hate and he never tried to have Christian laws passed that reach beyond civil rights. His struggle was for justice. The tone of the religious right is totally different.

    Finally the declaration claims that they “ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s but under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.” They want to impose their interpretation of Christian ruleon America and that shows disbelief in the separation of church and state.

    They end the declaration saying no one will impose values they don’t accept on them, however they will not reciprocate because they want to impose their values on those that don’t accept them.

    Recently Metropolitan Basil of Wichita (Antiochian Church) encouraged all Orthodox to sign this declaration. Aligning Orthodoxy with politics will not have a good outcome in the long run, we need to focus on our salvation and not follow the religious right fanatics and degrade Orthodoxy by turning it into a political movement.

    • Monday, December 21, 2009. In the Washington Times.

      A Christian call to arms

      Janice Shaw Crouse

      The recently released Manhattan Declaration is noteworthy because, unlike the signatories of other declarations that are long on rhetoric and short on calls to action, the more than 300,000 people who signed this declaration (including 55 Catholic bishops who have oversight of more than 600 of the nation’s private hospitals) agree to engage in civil disobedience regarding laws that reject mainstream values.

      The declaration’s signers commit to their “obligation” to “speak and act in defense” of biblical truths. Signers pledge “that no power on Earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence” on the sanctity of life, the divinely ordained nature of marriage, and religious liberty.” Those truths, they agree, are open to neither compromise nor revision.

      They are, however, subject to public debate. Political and religious leaders are deliberating the significance and ramifications of statements like this: “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.”

      Rarely has a declaration issued such a rigorous claim on conscience or called for such a decisive confrontation with the forces of secularism in the general population and government. Since its release last month, the nearly 5,000-word Manhattan Declaration has given voice to the concerns of, according to a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, the 55 percent of Americans who are concerned and troubled by the “wrong direction” in which the nation is headed.

      The clear, bold and eloquent language of the declaration was drafted by Robert George, Timothy George and Chuck Colson. The original signatories of the declaration include a broad spectrum of religious leaders ranging from George Weigel of the Ethics and Public Policy Center to Bishop Harry Jackson Jr. of Hope Christian Church in Washington, from Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List to Kay Arthur ofPrecept Ministries International, from Joseph Bottom of First Things journal to Gary Bauer of American Values and Campaign for Working Families.

      The Manhattan Declaration was prompted by the left’s campaign to convince the public that biblical beliefs are a newly minted product of “right-wing extremism.” The declaration points out that the fundamental principles of the Judeo-Christian tradition are a long-standing part of the fabric of our society. They constitute much of the everyday conventional wisdom and common values that help hold communities together, the foundation upon which Western civilization developed.

      While acknowledging that Christians have not always lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, the document declares that Christians have “worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.”

      Christians have been at the forefront in “seeking justice in our societies, resisting tyranny, and reaching out with compassion to the poor, oppressed and suffering.” To cite but a few examples: Christians such as William Wilberforce in England and Harriet Beecher Stowe in America led the fight against slavery; others were instrumental in challenging the divine rights of kings, promoting women’s suffrage and advancing civil rights.

      Any honest accounting of history will show that those holding traditionally accepted moral values have been in the forefront of society’s hard-won (and often bitterly contested) advances in terms of human dignity, decency and charity. They have been the backbone of society, not some lunatic fringe as the left would have it.

      The truth about which the secular left obscures and confuses the public is that Christians and others with deep religious convictions are at the forefront in working to end human trafficking, giving care to AIDS sufferers, caring for orphaned children, protecting “the intrinsic dignity of the human person” and standing for the common good.

      The signatories recognize the necessity of shining the light of truth into the darkness of today’s false and divisive rhetoric and the blatant demagoguery used to mislead today’s generation with its meager knowledge of America’s true history. We recognize the poisonous distortions of basic Christian principles that must be countered in the public mind. We have reached a point where those who truly “honor justice and the common good” must take a stand and make known the truth that historical mainstream American values have their origins in our traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs.

      Together, people of faith and deep religious convictions will continue work to protect those who are most vulnerable, the unborn, the disabled, the aged. We will proclaim the truth about the sanctity of marriage and the necessity of religious freedom. The call to take a stand presented so forcefully in the Manhattan Declaration has the potential to re-establish the social values and behavior that shaped this nation.

      Without a doubt, the gauntlet laid out in the declaration is daunting:

      “We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.”

      Nevertheless, that principle is the basis for liberty, justice and human rights; it is the very bulwark of freedom and democracy. If Americans lose sight of that principle, our moral foundation will disintegrate and this nation will cease to be a “shining city on a hill.”

      Janice Shaw Crouse is director and senior fellow of the Beverly LaHaye Institute at Concerned Women for America.

    • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :


      Your animus towards the Republican Party blinds you to the cultural collapse happening all around you — including the high attrition rates of the GOA due, in some measure, to the accommodation of its leadership to the prevailing cultural norms.

      Religion is the ground of culture, and if the culture is becoming increasingly secular (as you rightly point out), it means that Christianity — the moral wellspring of Western Civilization — is losing its cultural force. Secularism however, is only a layover, a wait until something else takes its place. People cannot bear the cross of faithlessness, not in the long term anyway, and a culture cannot survive if its people are faithless. It will either die, or another religion will emerge, much like how classical civilization was supplanted by the preaching of the Gospel.

      But you don’t see or understand this because in your insistence to comprehend our present catastrophe in purely political terms, you delegate any moral probity to the junk drawer, the place where things are stuffed that have no place anywhere else, and object loudly when you are forced to open it and examine what is really there.

      You brand the Manhattan Declaration as a political document (it is not), and label anyone who does not share your view as “hateful,” when in fact your only solution to the cultural impasse is that everyone should become a Progressive Democrat.

      Harry, if you were alive when slavery was being challenged you would brand the abolitionists as “hateful” (slavery flourished because the majority tolerated it). You would have been voting with Democratic majority against the Civil Rights Act (did you know more Republicans voted for it than Democrats?). Any kind of moral critique of the dominant culture, against the majority, would have stirred your invective because, like so much politically correct thinking, you are tolerant of everything except the idea that not everything is tolerable.

      So yes, Harry, things like gay marriage should not be tolerated. Funny thing is, in 37 states where gay marriage has been on the ballot, its been voted down. This is a moral issue first, a cultural issue second, and only a political issue third. And if it is a moral issues first (which it is), and even a cultural issue second (which it is), then all the protestations that this is nothing but politics (your position) doesn’t really wash.

      The world is changing Harry, and you need to take off your politically correct glasses to catch a clearer glimpse of how it is changing.

      Here is something worth reading: Totalitarian Sentimentality

  5. Harry your myopic streak is in full control. First there is only one Met. in the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America and +Basil invited those whose conscience dictated to sign the document.

    Second, how does allowing the wholesale murder of millions of children bring salvation to anyone; or allowing the killing of the infirm and old; or participating in the de-humanization of people by encouraging a wholly bio-mechanical understanding of humanity or defining being human soley by the RIGHT to sexual pleasure any way we get it?

    How does the “Obama as messiah” crowd that seems so prevalent in the GOA lead anyone to salvation?

    Protecting humanity should not be solely a political act, but it will always have a political diminesion as Wilberforce in England clearly demonstrated.

    Would it have assuaged your liberal mysanthropy any if the Manhattan Declaration had included capital punishment? Is there any issue that, for you, would demand social action on the part of the Church?

    BTW any action that involves more than two people is inherently political. Perhaps Fr. Gregory would like to point out the ‘sectarian withdrawal’ inherent in your remarks although I doubt he would classify you along with the other straw stereotype ‘fundamentalist convert’.

    Both the Democrats and the Republicans are completely corrupt and nothing, IMO, short of a complete melt-down of the current political arrangememnts will change any of that.

    As Orthodox Christians our baptism demands that we follow the teachings of the Church. Clearly abortion and the normalization of homosexual partnerships in law and culture are both against the universal teaching of the Orthodox Church since her inception. So, get over it, as those who really want to follow our Lord will do so in public whether you want us to or not.

  6. George Michalopulos :

    Michael, the level of ignorance by those on the political left is evidenced by their hatred of the Declaration. We hear about how terrible “politics” is yet as any Greek who has an inkling of Aristotle’s philosophy will point out, Aristotle himself said that “ho anthropos einai politikon zoon.” (Man is a political animal). There is nothing intrinsically evil about men and women coming together in the forum and discussing issues of importance. Some of these issues are the province of the Church. Others are properly the concern of the State.

  7. To be honest, I have not gone thru the Manhattan Declaration as closely as I apparently should have, given all the raucus it seems to be causing…so I won’t comment on it as such. And if my friend Harry Coin is having issues with it, then that at least gives me pause.

    However, the comments by Fr. Chad Hatfield, in the video presented above, were some of the most eloquent and cogent public statements I have heard from ANY Orthodox public personality in quite some time. His comments about the Orthodox Church having provided more martyrs during the last century, and the experience of Orthodox Christians living under Islam are two of the (many) best kept secrets of the Orthodox.

    I’m thrilled to seem Fr Chad entering the Town Hall of public discussion…this is where we belong…not hiding under our riazzas in our museums. Some will disagree, I’m sure I will disagree at times…my point is NOT that the Manhattan Declaration is perfect.

    My point is that THIS is what St. John Chrysostom and St Photios would be doing were they living today…using the prestige of their offices, along with the most modern communications vehicles available, to move the public debate. And in the process, introducing an entire culture to Eastern Orthodox Christianity.

    I applaud Fr. Chad, and told him so in person last night in Chicago.

    Best Regards,
    Dean Calvert

  8. Michael Bauman :

    Now if he would dis-invite Rowan Williams as the Schemman(sp) Lecturer we might be going some place.

  9. George Michalopulos :

    I actually feel sorry for Williams and think he should be allowed to speak. Mainly for forbearance’ sake. I think he’s a good man who has been dealt a bad hand. Basically, the ECUCA/sodomite tail is wagging the Anglican/morally upright dog. Not a good place to be. But there is something of lesson here for us Orthodox.

    What he’s trying to do is tell the 95% of the Anglican Communion that is morally correct that the 5% that think homosexuality is OK is that for Episcopalians, the issue of homosexuality is one of human rights, not morality. In other words, nobody wants to see homosexuals thrown into prison or executed. He avoided a schism within Anglicanism by pleading with the traditionalists that this was how they should view the issue.

    Personally, I think he’s conceded way too much to the sodomite wing (ECUSA). He should have been resolute and told them that if they wanted to schism off, go right ahead.

    What’s the lesson for Orthodox? We need to cut off all those bishops and jurisdictions at the knees RIGHT NOW and tell them to “cool it” on the economia talk and get out of the WCC/NCC post-haste. All such talk about touchy-feely theology will inevitably lead to a dillution of orthopraxy. I’m not saying that everybody should get behind The Manhattan Declaration or other such movements, but we need to be more resolute, like the Russians are regarding all such concerns. Stop it with the worldliness! This was the problem with ECUSA, which became a country-clubber type of denomination.

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