Saturday, November 22, 2008

A pro-choice catholic wants us to use his conscience to make our decisions

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An evil letter in the New York Times about primacy of conscience

This is a letter to the New York Times from the head of the dissident, pro-abortion group Catholics for Choice [formerly called "Catholics for a Free Choice" and its most well known leader has been Frances Kissling (1982-2007].

The USCCB has made the statement that "[CFC] is not a Catholic organization, does not speak for the Catholic Church, and in fact promotes positions contrary to the teaching of the Church as articulated by the Holy See and the NCCB."[23] It has been described by the Catholic League as an "anti-Catholic front group"[24

Father John Zuhlsdorf's emphases and comments.

November 22, 2008
Letter
The Catholic Conscience
[More and more we will see this word "conscience" misused by dissenters.]

To the Editor:

Re “Protests Over a Bush Rule to Protect Health Providers” (news article, Nov. 18), about the rule that prohibits anyone receiving federal funds from discriminating against providers who refuse to perform abortions for religious or moral reasons:

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Health Association may be behind the new rule, but their support does not reflect the fullness of Catholic teaching and the views of Catholics.
[Get that? The "fullness" of "Catholic" teaching. Now the writer will attempt to show how his position reflects the "fullness" of Catholic teaching, as if he somehow speaks magisterially.]

Catholic tradition requires Catholics to follow their own well-formed consciences
["well-formed"] even if it conflicts with church teaching. [Here is the problem: a "well-formed" conscience will not conflict with the Church’s teaching. A "well-formed" conscience adheres to the truth. I think the problem here rests in the difference between "well-formed" and "well-informed". There is a difference between having ingested a lot of information and then making a decision about it and, on the other hand, making a decision to adhere to the truth as taught by the Church. It seems to me that Catholics who desire that their consciences truly be "well-formed" give a logical priority to what the Church has to say, rather than reducing the Church’s teaching to one component, even an important one, among many necessary components.] As the Catechism notes, “a human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience.” [Folks… get ready. Mark my words, we will hear more and more about this "primacy of conscience" argument as something that trumps the clear teachings of the Church. It will be used, by Catholics, as a justification for evil actions.]

Catholic teaching also requires respect for others’ consciences. Doctors and pharmacists cannot dismiss the conscience of the person seeking a medication or a procedure to which they themselves may object. For example, they may not ignore the needs of patients who may not be Catholic, or who have made conscience-based decisions to use contraception.
[So, this writer thinks that a Catholic physician with a "well-formed" conscience, recognizing the absolute primacy of the conscience of another, can then, in "good" conscience perform an abortion. What he has done is make another person’s conscience the touchstone of your own moral decisions. Another person’s conscience can "permit" you to do x, y, z.]

One hopes that the bishops are not suggesting that the only well-formed conscience is one that is in lockstep with their own interpretation of Catholic teaching. That would, in fact, be the antithesis of a well-formed conscience.
[The Church does not say that non-Catholics must give consent of mind and will to Catholic teaching. The Church says that Catholics must give that consent, and that their consciences of Catholics are well-formed when they embrace what the Catholic Church teaches.]

Jon O’Brien
President, Catholics for Choice
Washington, Nov. 18, 2008

What Jon O’Brien wrote was evil.

Let us drill into what he used as his foundation, namely, that "A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience."

This is the first sentence in the first article in the Catechism of the Catholic Church on "Erroneous Judgment"

Let’s have a look:

IV. ERRONEOUS JUDGMENT

1790 A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself. Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed.

1791 This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is the case when a man "takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin." In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits.
[This is why, above, I made a distinction between "well-formed" and " well-informed". Clearly, many people know lots of facts, but they make the wrong decisions anyway. Something is missing from their formation.]

1792 Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others,
[here we have the problem of scandal. Many people see prominent "Catholics" acting in a certain way and they, on their example, follow suit. This is why Holy Church imposes censures on some people who commit public sins which give scandal. It is a way for the Church to say "What that person does is not Catholic and he is harming the unity of the Church and endangering souls.] enslavement to one’s passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, [Did you get that? "Assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience". The writer, above, does precisely that. As a matter of fact, he goes so far as to say that the autonomous conscience of another person can justify you doing what you, in your autonomous conscience, know is evil.] rejection of the Church’s authority and her teaching, [The Church does have authority to teach on this matter and she has taught.] lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct.

1793 If – on the contrary – the ignorance is invincible,
[that is, the person just can’t learn the truth] or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous judgment, [for example, he has been completely misinformed, as might be the case in a person brain-washed in a fundamentalist ideology] the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. [There is a distinction between the objectively sinful act and the guilt one has, as the subject who committed the act.] One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience. [This is a spiritual work of mercy, because it helps that person to edge back from the chasm of evil, the risk of committing scandal, and the ultimate peril of hell.]

1794 A good and pure conscience is enlightened by true faith,
[true faith, I think, for Catholics is shaped by the Faith.] for charity proceeds at the same time "from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith."

The more a correct conscience prevails, the more do persons and groups turn aside from blind choice and try to be guided by objective standards of moral conduct.

Just above this section we read in article

1785 In the formation of conscience the [1] Word of God is the light for our path, we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. We must also examine our conscience before the [2] Lord’s Cross. We are assisted by the [3] gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the [4] witness or advice of others and guided by the [4] authoritative teaching of the Church.

Now go back and read that wicked letter in the NYT:

November 22, 2008
Letter
The Catholic Conscience

To the Editor:

Re “Protests Over a Bush Rule to Protect Health Providers” (news article, Nov. 18), about the rule that prohibits anyone receiving federal funds from discriminating against providers who refuse to perform abortions for religious or moral reasons:

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Health Association may be behind the new rule, but their support does not reflect the fullness of Catholic teaching and the views of Catholics.

Catholic tradition requires Catholics to follow their own well-formed consciences even if it conflicts with church teaching. As the Catechism notes, “a human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience.”

Catholic teaching also requires respect for others’ consciences. Doctors and pharmacists cannot dismiss the conscience of the person seeking a medication or a procedure to which they themselves may object. For example, they may not ignore the needs of patients who may not be Catholic, or who have made conscience-based decisions to use contraception.

One hopes that the bishops are not suggesting that the only well-formed conscience is one that is in lockstep with their own interpretation of Catholic teaching. That would, in fact, be the antithesis of a well-formed conscience.

Jon O’Brien
President, Catholics for Choice
Washington, Nov. 18, 2008

More and more we will see some Catholics base their claims on the "primacy of conscience". Be on guard for their errors.
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