Manhattan Declaration Co-author to Speak at National Conference at Benedictine College

  • Thursday, May 26, 2011

It was a prestigious line-up Nov. 20, 2009 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., when America’s religious leaders and leading scholars joined together to pledge to defend the rights of Christians to practice according to their beliefs; especially in the areas of medicine, marriage, and religious liberty. Along with the leaders of evangelical networks and Orthodox and Catholic bishops was Dr. Robert George, Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University and co-author of the document now known as the Manhattan Declaration.

George is set to speak in O’Malley-McAllister Auditorium on the campus of Benedictine College, Atchison, Kan., on Friday, July 15, at 12:30 p.m. His presentation is FREE and open to the public. The speech is part of a larger week of conferences and presentations. Catholic Healthcare Identity: Medical and Pastoral Strategies is part of the Natural Family Planning Outreach Summer Institute. The series of conferences, geared to medical professionals, teachers and marriage counselors, and religious, will address topics such as natural family planning, overcoming infertility, parenting, respect for human dignity and institutional Catholic identity. It includes CME credits for doctors in attendance.

“With the recent repeals of various aspects of President George W. Bush’s executive order protecting conscience rights of medical professionals, Dr. George’s message is sure to garner great interest from doctors already apprehensive about the declining emphasis on the ancient foundation of medical ethics: ‘first, due no harm,’” said Dr. Susan Orr, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where she helped shape the Bush era conscience regulations. Orr is now a professor at Benedictine College and goes by her married name, Traffas.

“For many groups, the conscience rights of medical professionals seems to be the last defense against these encroachments on our liberties and on human dignity,” she added.

“With all the ‘advances’ in science, in vitro fertilization, and contraceptives, have we advanced as a society that values others or have we set ourselves up as users and disposers of others?” asked Matthew Tsakanikas, conference coordinator and a professor at Benedictine College.

Other speakers at the conferences within the Institute include: Dr. Janet Smith, Chair of Life Ethics, Sacred Heart Major Seminary; Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas; Dr. Jan Hemstad, M.D., President of the Catholic Medical Association; Gene Diamond, regional CEO of the Franciscan Alliance hospitals in northern Indiana; John Allen, Jr., Vatican analyst for CNN & NPR; and Fr. Matthew Habiger, PhD, former director of Human Life International.

While George’s keynote address on “Conscience Rights” is being made available free of charge, seating is limited due to priority seating of the medical conference. The website, www.benedictine.edu/nfpo, has a list of conference schedules and additional information.

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