The 'Manhattan Declaration' Causes a Stir

Fr Ray Blake's post on the Manhattan Declaration
, not to be confused with the Manhattan Project, the results of which are pictured above has already received criticism from one commentator. The commentator's criticisms of the Church, or those who speak in Her name, primarily, Her Pope, Bishops and Clergy, and secondarily, mad blogging Laity is as follows...

Why do Christians, especially traditionalist Catholics, always sound so pompous when they get onto their moral high horse?

Sorry, I was just getting my foot caught in the stirrups. If there's a moral high horse to be mounted, we're there, bro! We strive to speak the Truth, to proclaim the Truth and to speak it with Charity, even if, as frail and sinful creatures we fail daily to live up to it. Hence we fall off the horse, go to Confession, get back on and start striving to witness to the Gospel again.

The one they claim to follow allowed himself to be intimated into silence and to have his conscience violated by earthly powers regardless of the consequences to himself. Can his followers expect anything better?

The One we follow, or strive to follow, even if our efforts are often so feeble, allowed Himself to be handed over to the wicked to be crucified and to die in atonement for the sins of the whole World. At no point was He 'intimidated into silence' but He allowed, by His free choice, the power of evil, during His Passion, to snuff out the Light of the World - Himself. Death, however, had no power over Him and the Heavenly Father raised Him from the dead to reign as Eternal King, Judge and Saviour of mankind. Can we expect anything better? Well, what with this country being Our Lady's Dowry, converted by St Augustine of Canterbury and his monks, at the behest of Pope St Gregory the Great, one would have thought so, but then, this is a different age and the Church is now and will be in grave danger. Still, if the worst comes to the worst, Our Lord warned His followers, "If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you" and if ever the Church in the UK faces the kind of 'silencing' that involves pillows over mouths then those who die will receive the crown of Martyrdom.

Why should they think they can stand on their rights?

Rights? From whence do they come if they have come not from God? Like the right of the unborn to live, for example.

And rather than setting up oppositions between their supposed moral superiority and contemporary society why do they not seek out and co-operate with the real goodness that is found in the world at large? Christians have no monopoly on truth or goodness. They will not be listened to until they imitate their founder in his humble lack of self-righteousness.'

Catholics are all for co-operation. Unfortunately, however, the 'discussion' is a one way street and the Church is ignored. For evidence see the Abortion Act (1967) and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (2008). It doesn't matter what the Church says, the Government does it anyway and that tends to go for the US, the UK and the EU. You berate the Church and Christians for displaying a lack of humility. Yet, where is the humility of those in public office who lay siege to the laws of God?
Catholics must surely know by now how heartily detested the Church is these days.

Yep. We're picking up a general 'vibe'.
The more we stand on our rights and issue pompous statements of what we will and will not tolerate, the more people will come back at us and say, 'Don't you dare to lecture us when you are riddled with paedophiliac abuse and other scandals.' If we want a right to be heard we have to earn it, and the only way we can do so is by imitating Our Lord's example of humble unselfrighteous service.

Unfortunately, we cannot, dear brother, wait until we are Saints in order to proclaim the Gospel. Our time is short and as for the World? Well, we never know when Our Lord will return to judge us on our words, deeds, actions and omissions, nor do we know the hour of our own death. Time is short. Let us serve the Lord in sincerity, truth and love! As for those who abused children in their care, entrust them to God's mercy because from what Our Lord said of those who scandalise the child, they're going to need it, but then, who am I to judge their fate, when my own sins are so grave and I have nothing to defend my soul, save God's mercy?

Yes, so I read the Passion story. Our Lord allowed himself to be reduced to impotence and silence and clearly did not consider whether his conscience would permit acquiescing in the terribly unjust treatment meted out to him. He rejected the option of having his disciples fight in his "just" cause - and of course in doing so shows his true authority. Would that his followers imitated his model of humility.

While Our Lord was quick to tell St. Peter to put away his sword, I don't think the Lord was too happy when St. Peter denied him thrice. Still, we all know the rest of the story and it is still true that if Holy Mother Church denied Him today, the Lord would be just as upset. For if the Truth were not preached, how would men know they needed to go to Confession to receive God's mercy and make a firm purpose of amendment?

Sadly, Fr. Blake, if we do not always live the truth we proclaim people will not listen to our proclamation. Being and saying must go together. This is really my point, that proclamations costing nothing to make will not impress when people see the Church as authoritarian, judgmental and condemnatory - in short very unChristlike.

Yes, its important that we love as Christ called us to love. It is important we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner, shelter the homeless, bury the dead and pray for the living and the dead. That does not mean we remain silent while injustice prevails.

People love and admire Christ and will listen to him...but see the Church and its leaders as being exactly like the Pharisees Christ condemns who do not practise what they preach. This is why they will not be guided by them and why the Church does have to earn a right to speak for Christ.

Some people love and admire Christ, others love and worship Him as their Redeemer and Best Friend. For He is the kind of Friend who doesn't kick you when you're down. The kind of Friend who picks you up when you fall. The kind of Friend who listens to your Confession of sin and your misery and crowns you with His merciful love and then gives you His very Body, Blood, Soul, Humanity and Divinity afterwards, sealing you with His tender mercy and His Salvation. All this He does through His Priests, His Bishops and yes, His Pope too, whether they be great sinners or whether they be great Saints. The Church does not have to earn a right to speak for Christ, for He has commanded the Church to speak in His Name and I must say, Pope Benedict XVI and Fr Ray Blake, for that matter, are doing it rather well. Many have caused great scandal in their ministry and done harm to many individuals in the abuse scandal, but that, I have to say, is an entirely different matter.


Monica Edith said…
Marvelous rebuttal. Bones, you definitely have a calling; keep putting one foot in front of the other; you're on the right track.
pelerin said…
Excellent Laurence. Now where did I leave my horse?
pelerin said…
PS I love the change of photo with the dancing starlings.
Ignatius said…
Thanks for your invitation to comment, Laurence England. I didn't think my words were worthy of so much attention, but I am not surprised that neither you nor the others who commented have addressed the main point I was seeking to make. It is this: high-sounding declarations, costing nothing to make, of what we believe and what we will and will not tolerate as Catholics cut no ice when people see the Church and its leaders, as they do, as rigidly authoritarian, harshly judgmental and condemnatory - that is, very unChristlike. My non-Catholic friends use terms like nasty, creepy and repulsive. They are not impressed by Catholics courageously standing up for the truth, but they certainly do take note of their failure to live that truth - and we cannot take refuge in the defence of all being sinners when those failures are so appalling.
Like you I try to witness to my faith as best I can, but what I can say to those friends when along comes today's news from Dublin. Is 'Sorry, we all go wrong' enough? You say, 'Many have caused great scandal in their ministry and done harm to many individuals in the abuse scandal, but that, I have to say, is an entirely different matter.' I'm afraid not, an entirely different matter is exactly what it is not. To claim otherwise is almost criminally irresponsible. The abuse scandal is the main reason why today many people of good will, who are just as concerned over abortion and threats to family life, want nothing to do with the Catholic Church. Christ yes, they are more than happy to answer to him, but the Pope no.
It is going to be a long haul for the Church to regain respect and re-earn the right to speak for Christ, much patient rebuilding. We will not do it by retreating into a cosy self-absorbed ark of salvation, where we can bask in the congratulations and mutual admiration of like-minded co-religionists.

If your brother murdered his wife would it damage your reputation?

Would more people hate you because your brother killed his wife?

Or would the same people who liked you before like you and the same people who loathed (though I doubt you have many enemies, heck, we tend not to do that now) before, loathed you still.

Prejudice about the Church exists already. The abuse scandal in which many people committed great evil against the innocent adds petrol to the flames of public animosity to the Church, but I would contend that it is not the reason men and women stay away from Holy Mother Church.

Many in Ireland have had their faith shaken and destroyed by this scandal. This scandal, however is not the reason the Church is hated.

The reason the Church is hated is because She, like the Crucified Christ, is a Sign of Contradiction to the World. What the World says is good, the Church says, is not on, even, yes, if many in the Church are guilty of wicked crimes.

Some people look at the Cross and give God honour. Some people ignore it and never think upon it. Others go to the European Court of Human Rights and have it removed from every classroom because it offends their pride and because they despise the Cross of Christ.

The Church in Ireland...Well, unfortunately, as anyone who has read Angela's Ashes will know, the Irish Church lacked one thing - holy joy. Everything was darkness and damnation. If people really think about God in that way then they will damn themselves and others too.

While the Irish Church has lost authority and credibility they can at least say one thing...COME TO CONFESSION...We will not judge you.
Ignatius said…
Laurence, you say, 'If your brother murdered his wife would it damage your reputation?' Probably not, but as his brother I would in some way share the dreadfulness of his action. So too I cannot be a Catholic and not be shaken by the scandal of abuse, the nature and scale of it - it is by no means confined to Ireland - and feel misgivings about our Church in which such things happen.
Let us at least agree that we could do with a lot more "holy joy."

It is difficult for us to comprehend the actions of Priests who defiled and abused children. It is an abhorrence that it was covered up in the name of self-protection. The mystery of evil is as difficult as the mystery of God.

But do not, I urge you, and your friends who are Catholic, let go of the Faith. If we based our faith upon the goodness of men then it would be flimsy. When good men come along, we rejoice. When Saints are made, we are thrilled, when wickedness exists, even within the Church, we are scandalised, but we are not shaken so much that we lose our faith, because we know that the Church is a Perfect Institution made of imperfect human beings.

The blood that poured forth from the Heart of Jesus was not poured out for the righteous alone. No, it was poured out for the guilty. In Him alone, perhaps, can the victims find the courage to forgive those who abused them, and in Him alone can those who dishonoured them find forgiveness for their crimes.

May the Crucified Christ, ravaged, bloodied and torn, Whose Body was broken on the Cross, help the Irish Church, broken and crucified by poor sinners.
Ignatius said…
I haven't in any way lost my faith in God or in Christ and the mystical body of Christ. I'm glad you use the phrase 'the mystery of God,' because for me God becomes more real as he becomes more mysterious - which should mean that we are able to say less and less about him. But the Church as a human institution ... ? I can only say with the old proverb, Ecclesia semper reformanda.
The Church is always in need of renewal. Your latin is better than mine.

Do you go to a Latin Mass?