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Manhattan Declaration

Very good, with just two reservations

December 8th, AD 2009
Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Manhattan Declaration
AIM: Vatican Engineered Victory for Pelosicare
AIM Catholic Bishops Help Pass Pelosicare


    The Manhattan Declaration is the response of principled people to the proposed legislation instituting socialized medicine in these United States, with the inclusion of taxpayer funded abortions and suicides.  It also responds to the legalization of "marriages" other than those between a man and a woman.  In all cases it decries the possibility that unwilling people will be forced by law to perform abortions and to assist at suicides and and unnatural "marriages," in violation of their consciences.

    If there is a "tad too much" in the Declaration, it is in the implication that human rights extend to having services provided by others to alleviate the difficulties of human life.  While a person certainly has the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," those rights do not extend to forcing others to make them possible.  "Clean water" and freedom from the "suffering of AIDS" might be said to be "rights," there is no corresponding duty in justice for others to provide that water or to invent a cure for the disease.  Charity may certainly urge such a duty, but not justice.

    If this seems trivial, it has to be viewed in the larger context of the "Progressive" Movement that, today more than ever, jeopardizes the rights of individuals.  The "Progressive" worries not so much about the God given rights of individuals, as he does about some nebulous concept of "the common good," or "the will of the people," or some other such phrase that always translates into "whatever the elite want."  Having seen how this plays out in tyranny once it becomes official state policy, "Progressives" have recently turned to define "the common good" in terms where everyone has a right to just about anything they might want.  The "Progressive" Nanny State is expected to provide provide everything.  Rarely do its theoreticians explain from where the resources to provide this universal care will come.  For example:

11.   ... Man has the right to live. He has the right to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life, particularly food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rest, and, finally, the necessary social services. In consequence, he has the right to be looked after in the event of ill health; disability stemming from his work; widowhood; old age; enforced unemployment; or whenever through no fault of his own he is deprived of the means of livelihood. (8)[1]

Generally, the "Progressive" imagines that all of these "rights" will be fulfilled by government, failing to recognize that government is not a productive entity, and nearly always acts as a drag on the productive sectors of society.

64. The public administration must therefore give considerable care and thought to the question of social as well as economic progress, and to the development of essential services in keeping with the expansion of the productive system. Such services include road-building, transportation, communications, drinking-water, housing, medical care, ample facilities for the practice of religion, and aids to recreation. The government must also see to the provision of insurance facilities, to obviate any likelihood of a citizen's being unable to maintain a decent standard of living in the event of some misfortune, or greatly in creased family responsibilities.

The government is also required to show no less energy and efficiency in the matter of providing opportunities for suitable employment, graded to the capacity of the workers. It must make sure that working men are paid a just and equitable wage, and are allowed a sense of responsibility in the industrial concerns for which they work. It must facilitate the formation of intermediate groups, so that the social life of the people may become more fruitful and less constrained. And finally, it must ensure that everyone has the means and opportunity of sharing as far as possible in cultural benefits.[2]

    As this is being written, the Declaration has over a quarter million signatures, including those of many Christian religious leaders, including a number of Novus Ordo bishops.  I am going to guess that a significant number of the Declaration's signatories are in favor of government provided health care--after all, if medical care is a right, only government is powerful enough to force the providers to provide it to everyone.  They reason, quite fallaciously, that abortion, suicide, and death panels can simply be written out of the legislation, and thereby provide a morally upright system of socialized medicine.  Sometimes they don't bother to worry about the moral issues at all, for example, as in this letter of the bishops to the G8 Summit.

    Of its nature, socialism must always be anti-life when practiced by governmental fiat.  (It differs from the religious community in which the members voluntarily share their goods and labors for the love of God, rather than for fear of the coercive powers of government.)

Why must socialism be anti-life?

    Socialism destroys the economic incentives to produce and to innovate--to work hard or to risk one's goods in an enterprise that may fail.  Not only does this deprive society of productive output and the solution of its technological problems--it reduces the workforce to a vast army of drones.  Socialism further decreases productivity and efficiency by eliminating the feedback inherent in a free market system--production is no longer optimized by consumer demand and resource supply, instead it is planned by bureaucrats acting without knowledge of what is needed or what is available to produce it. Large bureaucracies consume many of the goods and services that remain available in the economy--rather than having an incentive to operate efficiently, the incentive is add bureaucrats and to spend at least what was budgeted in order to be able to ask for even more in the future.  Rationing, wage, and price controls contribute to the economic stagnation--and when mixed with bureaucracy, set the stage for favoritism and corruption.

    As society is forced to be less productive as a whole, and less rational in its production choices, useful goods and services become scarce.  Those things which "progressive" society has defined as "rights"--like housing, food, and medical care--may even become unavailable.  Government control is the reason for those horror stories one hears about trying to find an apartment in rent-controlled New York City, or getting on the waiting list for a CAT-scan in London or Toronto.  From the "progressive" point of view, with its vague concept of "the common good" it makes sense to remove the "useless eaters" from the population.  Just as it makes sense to the "global warming" crowd to remove CO2 exhaling "polluters" from the planet.  With its self made shortages it makes sense for a socialist system to provide abortions and assisted suicides to those who want them!  Should the shortages get even more severe, such "services" may be provided even to those who don't want them--in the US, as in China?

Disobedience of Unjust Laws

    The Manhattan Declaration concludes with the statement:

    Because we honor justice and the common good, 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 marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. 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.

    Perhaps it should have gone a "tad" farther.  Saint Thomas Aquinas informs us that:

    Human law is law only by virtue of its accordance with right reason; and thus it is manifest that it flows from the eternal law. And in so far as it deviates from right reason it is called an unjust law; in such case it is no law at all, but rather a species of violence.” [3]

    In the saintly Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Libertas  Præstantissimum, we read:

    13. Moreover, the highest duty is to respect authority, and obediently to submit to just law; and by this the members of a community are effectually protected from the wrong-doing of evil men. Lawful power is from God, "and whosoever resisteth authority resisteth the ordinance of God' ; wherefore, obedience is greatly ennobled when subjected to an authority which is the most just and supreme of all.  But where the power to command is wanting, or where a law is enacted contrary to reason, or to the eternal law, or to some ordinance of God, obedience is unlawful, lest, while obeying man, we become disobedient to God. Thus, an effectual barrier being opposed to tyranny, the authority in the State will not have all its own way, but the interests and rights of all will be safeguarded - the rights of individuals, of domestic society, and of all the members of the commonwealth; all being free to live according to law and right reason; and in this, as We have shown, true liberty really consists.[4]

    Pope Leo raises the issue of a law "contrary ... to the eternal law," but also the situation "where the power to command is wanting--which is precisely the case in any federal law concerning healthcare or regulating marriage.  The US Constitution is quite clear in stating that:

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."[5]

    Perhaps the final question that must be raised is the legitimacy of a government in which the vast majority of office holders took office by an oath to uphold the Constitution, while being ready to violate that oath repeatedly.  Is an office validly filled by means of perjury?[6]

in XTO,
Fr. Brusca
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[1] Pope John XXIII, Pacem in terris, paragraph 11.  The footnote (8) pretends to reference Pope Pius XI's encyclical Divini Redemptoris, which in actuality is a denunciation of Communism!

[2] Pope John XXIII, Pacem in terris, paragraph 64.

[3] Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae, Ia-Ilae, q. xciii, art. 3, ad 2m. 

[4] Pope Leo XIII, Libertas  Præstantissimum

[5] US Constitution, Amendment X

[6] C.f. The New American "Freedom Index"


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