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More on the Manhattan Declaration – An Opinion from Europe

January 5, 2010

The “Manhattan Declaration”: The Manifesto That’s Shaking America

It’s been endorsed by Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox leaders, united in defending life and the family. With the White House in the crosshairs. In Europe, they would’ve branded it political “interference” by the Church

by Sandro Magister

The author starts his article with a little history of the Manhattan Declaration. Then he continues on with a comparison of the Church and State relationship here, in the United States, and over in Europe. Very interesting:

The issuing of the “Manhattan Declaration” has received extensive coverage in the media in the United States, without anyone protesting against this political “interference” by the Churches.

But that’s just the way it is in the United States. There has always been a rigorous separation between religion and the state there. There are no concordats, and they’re not even conceivable. But this is exactly why the Churches are seen as having the freedom to speak and act in the public sphere.

In Europe, the landscape is very different. Here “secularism” is understood and applied in conflict, either latent or explicit, with the Churches.

This may be another reason for the silence that in Europe, in Italy, in Rome, greeted the “Manhattan Declaration.” It is held to be a typically American phenomenon, foreign to the European way of thinking.

A similar difference in approach concerns the denial of Eucharistic communion for pro-abortion Catholic politicians. In the United States, this controversy is extremely heated, while on the other side of the Atlantic it isn’t. This difference in sensibilities also divides the hierarchy of the Catholic Church: in Europe and in Rome the question is practically ignored, left to the individual conscience.

But it most be noted out that something is changing on this point, even on the Old Continent. And not only because there is a pope like Benedict XVI, who has stated that he prefers the American model of relations between Church and state.

A sign of this came a few days ago from Spain, where the Catholic Church is grappling with an ideologically hostile government, that of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, which is preparing a law that would liberalize abortion even more than it is now.

According to reports from sources including “L’Osservatore Romano,” the secretary general of the Spanish bishops’ conference, Bishop Juan Antonio Martínez Camino, did not hesitate to advise Catholic politicians that, if they vote in favor of the law, they will not be admitted to Eucharistic communion, because they will have placed themselves in an objective situation of “public sin.”

Not only that. Bishop Martínez Camino added that those who maintain that it is morally legitimate to kill an unborn child put themselves in contradiction with the Catholic Church, and thus risk falling into heresy and into “latae sententiae,’ or automatic, excommunication.

It is the first time that words so “American” have been heard from the leadership of a bishops’ conference in Europe.

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