The Conservative-Christian (Catholic) Big Thinker Behind the Manhattan Declaration

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.

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More on George, from Tom Roeser:

Who is Robbie George? Read The New York Times magazine last Sunday and you’ll find out. He is a Princeton professor who with the death of Rev. Richard John Neuhaus has become a consultant to a number of conservative Catholic bishops. Dr. Robert P. George, that is who is a Thomist who those conservative bishops have found to possess the talent for phrasing their arguments in thoughtful, academic language. No, Cardinal George is not among them. He’s busily constructing his own theory of parsing which alleges Catholicism is hobbled by conservatives on one hand and liberals on the other… contrasted with which-guess what-he, the equivocator of both-occupies the Golden Mean.

But I digress. The interesting thing about Robert George is that he is unassailably right on theology-philosophy… but guess what? His uniqueness is due to the fact that he almost alone espouses the essence of Aquinas which has been forsaken by most Catholic intellectuals. You remember my disquisitions about Fr. Ernie? Fr. Ernie’s theology, philosophy is reborn in Robbie George. Encouraging isn’t it. But also discouraging.

It’s a shame that the logic that has permeated Catholic theology since the 13th, that greatest of all centuries for philosophy and theology, has been so ignored since the mid-20th that Robbie George is the only one the bishops can find.