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Our Declaration of Dependance
We stand together in solidarity as Christians. We acknowledge that differences exist between us on important matters of religious doctrine and practice. However, what binds us together is greater, our common faith in Jesus Christ and our Baptism into Him.
It was our common Savior who said “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” (John 15:16) Just as we do not choose our natural family, we have not chosen our Christian family.
We acknowledge together at a critical time in the history of the United States of America, that, as a divided Church, we have allowed our differences to impede our common work in service to the culture. We reject that mistake and pledge to walk in a new way going forward, standing in solidarity together for the true common good of this Nation we love. As a Nation we have lost our moral compass. As a direct result, we are losing our true freedom. We affirm together that there is a moral basis to a free society and together we reject relativism and secularism.
In 1941, the late Fulton Sheen wrote: Whence comes the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Read the Declaration of Independence and there find the answer: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Sheen continued, Notice these words: The Creator has endowed men with rights and liberties; men got them from God! In other words, we are dependent on God, and that initial dependence is the foundation of our independence. (A Declaration of Dependence, pp. 121-122).
The birth certificate of this nation was called a Declaration of Independence because it declared independence from an unjust civil ruler. It did not declare independence from a just God. We live in an age that has been deceived by a counterfeit notion of freedom as giving people the right to do whatever they want, rather than the right to choose to do what is right.
The roots of the crisis we face as a Nation is no different than the sentiment expressed in the profound and prophetic statement of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the recipient of the Templeton prize in 1983, Men Have Forgotten God.
The mistaken idea that the exercise of freedom can ever be divorced from the moral norms necessary to govern our choices and guide our behavior is wrong and will not promote the true common good. When there is nothing objectively true which can be known by all and form the basis of a common life then there is no freedom. Instead, we teeter on the brink of anarchy.
We reject the claim that one can separate moral issues from economic or international issues. There is a moral basis to every social concern. That is because there is a Natural Moral Law, which can be known by all men and women, because it is written on the human heart. It can de discerned through the exercise of reason. It must inform our life together. The existence of such a Natural Moral Law is the ground upon which every great civilization has been built. This Natural Moral Law gives us the norms with which we can build a truly free and just society and govern ourselves. It must also inform the positive or civil law of our Nation or we become lawless and risk devolving into anarchy.
We face competing definitions of human freedom, human dignity, and human flourishing in the current struggle underway in the West. Freedom is much more than a freedom from; it is a freedom for responsible and virtuous living. The American founders spoke of the pursuit of happiness with reference to just an understanding of virtue as a key to living a truly happy life. The struggle we face in the West involves a rejection of our roots. Those roots informed our worldview and enabled us to once rise to greatness.
What is needed is a recovery of the classical Jewish and Christian worldview and the social vision, which influenced the founders, whether religious or not. The struggle we face in our nation and in a declining western culture involves a clash of worldviews, personal and corporate, and competing definitions of human freedom, human dignity, and human flourishing. It is a contest over the very foundations of the social order. It consists of conflicting claims about what constitutes true progress.
We come together on this Day when our Nation commemorates its independence as Christians of various communities to declare our dependence on God. We also affirm that we will work together for the true Common Good of the culture and this Nation, which we love. We will seek going forward to collaborate through four pillars of participation in our common cultural mission; life, family, freedom and solidarity.
OUR PLEDGE OF SOLIDARITY FOR THE COMMON GOOD THROUGH THE FOUR PILLARS OF PARTICIPATION
We affirm that there is a hierarchy, or proper ordering of rights, which begins with the first Right, the Right to Life. When there is no recognition of a preeminent right to life, there follows an erosion of the infrastructure of all human rights. Human rights do not exist in a vacuum; they are goods of the human person. Without the freedom to be born, there is no person to be the recipient of such rights.
Our failure to recognize that our first neighbors in the womb have a right to be born and live a full life in our community is foundational. Our denial of that right undermines our claim to be a truly free and compassionate society. All the talk about compassion for the poor rings hollow when we fail to hear the cry of the ones whom Teresa of Calcutta rightly called the “poorest of the poor”. It rejects our obligation in solidarity to one another.
The child in the womb is our first neighbor. Medical science confirms what our conscience has long told us. We operate upon her in the womb. We send 3 and 4D ultrasound photos of him as he grows in that first home of the whole human race. We all know the truth. These children are members of our human family. It is always and everywhere wrong to kill an innocent neighbor.
The shared knowledge of what is right is the basis for our criminal justice system. We all know it is always wrong to kill an innocent neighbor. This is true even if that neighbor lives in the first home of the whole human race, their mother’s womb. We hide voluntary abortion behind Orwellian language such as choice and abortion rights in an attempt to make it sound noble, but it is barbarism. It does not free us; it enslaves us.
Legalized abortion on demand is an open rejection of the entire ethic of being our brothers (and sisters) keeper and its implications. There can be no enduring lasting solidarity upon which to build a secure future in a culture that kills its own children and calls it a right.
Marriage and Family
In addition to insisting upon the recognition by the State of the fundamental Human Right to Life we will stand together to defend authentic marriage as what it is, a bond between one man and one woman, intended for life, open to the gift of children and formative of family.
Marriage and family form the first vital cell of society, the first church, first school, first economy, first hospital and first government. In addition to insisting upon the recognition by the State of the fundamental Human Right to Life we will stand in solidarity to defend marriage as between one man and one woman, intended for life, and open to the gift of children.
The effort to redefine marriage out of existence threatens our future as a free, virtuous and healthy Nation. Marriage and family have been inscribed by the Divine Architect into the order of creation and relation. In the words of the first book of the Bible we read these words, “it is not good for man to be alone”. (Genesis 2:18)
Society begins with marriage and the family. We can only be fully human – and experience human flourishing and freedom – in relationship with one another. We are by nature – and by grace – social creatures. We pledge in our own lives to become a visible, palpable reflection of this truth about marriage and family in each of our lives and to work together to protect marriage as what it is in the civil law of this Nation.
We affirm together that marriage and family have been inscribed by the Divine Architect into the order of the universe. Marriage as between one man and one woman marriage was not somehow manufactured by the Christian Church. It precedes Christianity. Though affirmed, fulfilled and elevated by Christian teaching, it is not based on religion or revelation alone, but on the Natural Moral Law.
Truth does not change, people and cultures do; sometimes for good and sometimes for evil. Marriage is the first society into which children are to be born, learn to be fully human, grow in virtue, flourish and take their role in families and communities. We must not be afraid to make the claim that children have a right to a mother and a father. They do.
Marriage is the first society into which children are to be born, learn to be fully human, grow in virtue, flourish and take their role in families and communities. We can only be fully human – and experience human flourishing and freedom – in relationship with one another. We are by nature – and by grace – social creatures. Of course we care about the single parent family and the many broken homes. However, their existence does not change the norm necessary for a stable and healthy society. In tact marriages and families are the glue of a healthy and happy social order.
To live a faithful marriage is now becoming countercultural. Our common conviction and claim concerning marriage and family is not an outdated notion of a past era but provides the path to a future of freedom. The recognition and implementation in law and public policy of the truth concerning marriage is the path to true progress. This position we take together is not about being left or right, liberal or conservative – within the contemporary politicized use of those words. It is about right and wrong. It insists upon the existence of objective truth in an age of relativism.
There is no word which echoes more passionately within the human heart than that word freedom. The United States of America was founded by men and women who experienced threats to freedom’s promise and risked everything to secure a future of true freedom, grounded.
Authentic freedom has a moral constitution within which we must exercise our rights as individuals, families, communities and Nations. Freedom is much more than a freedom from; it is a freedom for responsible and virtuous living. The early American founders spoke of the pursuit of happiness with reference to just such an understanding of virtue as a key to living a happy life.
We reassert together that there is a moral foundation for the exercise of authentic freedom. We may be free to choose, but some choices are always and everywhere wrong. We know this is true because it is written on the human heart. It does not require religion to reveal it or to make it obligatory. It is a part of a common morality.
As Christians, we affirm that that the fullness of truth concerning what is good and true has been revealed to all who choose to embrace the Gospel – in the Person, message and mission of Jesus Christ. However, the moral norms upon which our Nation was founded are not simply ‘religious’ and they are essential to the survival of a truly free society.
Freedom will only grow and flourish when we choose what is good, respecting the truth about the human person, marriage and the family and society founded upon it and what advances the real common good. It is weakened and lost when we choose against what is true and right. In fact, it results in fracturing our common bond as a free Nation.
Religious freedom is the first freedom. It ensures that the leavening role of revealed truth helps us to form our conscience and shape the choices we make as individuals, families and as a truly society. It is also under a wholesale assault. We pledge to stand together to defend the first Freedom of Religious Freedom.
Religious faith, religious institutions and religious speech was protected by the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights of the Constitution for good reason. It is a fundamental human right and serves the common good. We stand together for Religious Freedom and against the growing assaults against what has long been hailed as America’s First Freedom.
Freedom is much more than a freedom from; it is a freedom for responsible and virtuous living. The early founders spoke of the pursuit of happiness with reference to just such an understanding of virtue as a key to living a happy life. Our Freedom brings with it an obligation to do what is right and to care for others.
We have an obligation in solidarity to one another and, in particular, to the poor in all of their manifestations. Poverty is not limited to economic deprivation or scarcity. We affirm together that are our brother/sister´s keeper.
The division between a morally informed approach to social thought and its economic application or international implications in public policy is a false dichotomy. The market was made for man and not man for the market. Only a moral people can ensure that a market economy remains free. In addition, we live in a broader network of international relations which obligates us to work with other nations to promote and defend the common good.
However, we also affirm together the necessity of applying the social ordering principle of subsidiarity in implementing our obligation in solidarity in both governing structures and the economic order. The American founders constructed a system which enshrined and affirmed a separation of powers and limited government for good reason to ensure that this principle was institutionalized in the American polity.
This principle of subsidiarity insists that governance should always be exercised at the lowest practicable level – first – beginning with the family. Larger governing entities must never usurp the rightful role of families and the mediating structures of society such as religious institutions, associations, charities and small self governing structures between the family and the institutions of civil government.
Statism and collectivism never work, whether of the rightist or the leftist version. They squelch freedom, creativity, and initiative. They often impede genuine human compassion. Not because government is intrinsically evil, but because collectivist approaches are neither moral nor efficient government. Rather, they easily devolve into tyranny.
The question we should always ask in evaluating the exercise of governance is whether government is ‘good’ – including whether it is efficient and effective as well as healthy and moral. That can best be assessed by considering who does the governing, where it happens and whether such governing reflects truly moral values.
The American founders carried a vision of authentic freedom into the experiment in ordered liberty called the United States of America. However, they did not come up with this ennobling and enabling vision on their own. They received it from the treasury of Western civilization, which is found in Christendom. It is the Jewish and Christian vision of the human person, the primacy of marriage and the family founded upon it, and the acknowledgement of the existence of normative, fundamental moral truths, which guarantees the future of Western civilization.
The truths revealed by the Natural Moral Law have fueled our determined efforts to build a truly free society. They have ensured our survival against totalitarianism of every ilk and every political persuasion. When embraced and welcomed, they can properly govern our life together and keep the flame of freedom burning in the torch of Lady Liberty. When rejected, we will succumb to the various forms of tyranny which pretend to liberate but only lead to slavery.
Both major political parties in the United States are at a crossroads. Will they compromise on the moral basis of a free society? We need men and women to run for public office who can champion authentic freedom – in a way that inspires people to sacrifice for it.
We need candidates who promote an authentic vision of human freedom; not a libertinism masquerading as liberty or a selfish individualism rejecting our obligation to one another. They will also need thick skin because they will face the brunt of the intolerant secularists along with the derision of some within their own political circles.
The secularist censors of the age want truth claims to be confined within our Church Walls. Because they disagree with our truth claims concerning the dignity of every human life and our defense of marriage and the family founded upon it to the four walls of our church. They do so by first claiming they are just religious positions. They then insist that these positions are not an appropriate subject for public policy or political discourse.
They then misapply the US Constitutions safeguards of our cherished freedoms of speech, press, assembly and religion through a mistaken legal analysis to actually undermine those very freedoms through a misguided political correctness. Finally, they seek to use the Police power of the State to silence us.
This is not freedom it reveals the path to tyranny. There is a difference between a secular state, a state which welcomes all religious expressions or none at all, and “secularism”, an oppressive anti-religious regime which seeks to censor out of the public forum the wonderful contributions of the Church, people of faith, and the great ideas informed by faith which have shaped the West.
We declare together our dependence on God as the foundation of our true independence from unjust governance in every generation. We pledge our solidarity to one another and commit ourselves to working together for the common good.
On this day when we pause to remember the Declaration of Independence, we reaffirm the words of the American Founders and make them our own. There are still self evident truths and unalienable rights such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. With the founders we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor to defending them.
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