Posts Tagged conscience
Some have called Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia, or ‘The Joy of Love,’ his reflection on the two recent Synods of Bishops on the family, a ‘love letter’ to families. We believe that Francis’ teaching on conscience in that letter is one of the most important teachings in the apostolic exhortation. As various church bodies announced plans about how to implement Amoris Laetitia, it is instructive to see how they will present Francis’ teaching on conscience.
“To spread the teaching of Amoris Laetitia though U.S. dioceses and parishes, the U.S. bishops have appointed a working group led by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput. The work of this group isn’t yet public, but Chaput has issued guidelines for implementing Amoris Laetitia in his own archdiocese.
“In the Philadelphia guidelines, which went into effect in July, Chaput comments on the indissolubility of marriage and admission to Communion for the divorced and remarried without an annulment. He noted that pastors have an obligation to educate the faithful, since ‘the subjective conscience of the individual can never be set against objective moral truth, as if conscience and truth were two competing principles for moral decision-making.’ The ‘objective truth,’ according to magisterial teaching, is that couples living in this situation are committing adultery and cannot receive Communion and that their subjective consciences must adhere to this truth.
“Chaput’s comment highlights theological debates in the Catholic tradition on the interrelationship between conscience and objective norms in moral decision-making …”
By Michael G. Lawler and Todd Salzman, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this article.
Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, 2:30 p.m.
Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola, 28 Commonwealth Ave., Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
Moral decisions can become defining moments in our lives, as well as in the communities where we live. From decisions as diverse as Sasha Chanoff’s work with refugees in Africa to those of Catholics who founded Voice of the Faithful®, David and Sasha Chanoff discuss such “crucible moments” in which conscience prompted an unexpected life path.
The Chanoff’s co-wrote From Crisis to Calling: Finding Your Moral Center in the Toughest Decisions, which features Sasha’s experiences working with refugees and includes a profile of Jim Post and his involvement with Voice of the Faithful® among its stories of “crucible moments.”
The Chanoffs will be available to sign copies of their book, and refreshments will be served following the talk and conversation.
In its statement regarding Amoris Laetitia, Voice of the Faithful pointed to the role of conscience in moral decision-making and quoted Pope Francis, who said, “We also find it hard to make room for consciences of the faithful, who very often respond as best they can to the gospel amid their limitations, and are capable of carrying out their own discernment in complex situations. We have been called to form consciences, not to replace them.” James Martin, S.J., is concerned in the article below that some critics of the Pope’s letter are missing “… the notion that God can deal with people directly. The way that this notion is framed in the document is primarily through the lens of ‘conscience.'”
What some critics of “Amoris Laetitia” are missing
By James Martin, S.J., Editor at Large, America
Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” has been accepted by most Catholics as a breath of fresh air. Its warm encouragement to families to place love at the center of their lives, its clear invitation to pastors to accompany Catholics in the ‘complexity’ of their situations and its strong reminder that the church needs to recover an appreciation of the role of conscience have been welcomed by millions of Catholics as a sign that the church wants to meet them where they are.
“But not by all Catholics. In a few quarters of the church it has not been received warmly at all. In fact, it was greeted with a vituperation that seemed to approach apoplexy.
“Many critics were frustrated, alarmed and angered by the same thing. They claimed that Francis had muddied the clear moral waters of the church by elevating a concept that had landed St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order to which the pope belongs, in jail: the notion that God can deal with people directly.
“The way that this notion is framed in the document is primarily through the lens of ‘conscience’ …”
Click here to read the rest of this article.
Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation on family stresses grace over dogma / Voice of the Faithful Statement
BOSTON, Mass., Apr. 8, 2016 – Pope Francis delivered his Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, on the Bishops’ Synod on the Family today in Rome. Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful welcomes his efforts to temper dogma with grace in order to respond to 21st century lay voices.
Pundits immediately began to parse every word of Francis’ 256-page letter (click here to read Amoris Laetitia) and will continue to do so for some time, but Francis, while calling for pastoral change, is leaving the implementation of his letter to bishops. VOTF urges lay Catholics to make sure their voices are heard as the Pope’s exhortation is implemented.
We remind lay Catholic of two themes expressed by Vatican II and reiterated in Francis’ letter: the place of the teaching authority of the Church (magisterium) and the place of individual conscience in deciding how to act.
Regarding the magisterium, Francis says in his letter, “… I would make it clear that not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by interventions of the magisterium. Unity of teaching and practice is certainly necessary in the Church, but this does not preclude various ways of interpreting some aspects of that teaching or drawing certain consequences from it.”
In addition, Vatican II defined the teaching authority of the Church as including all the faithful People of God, lay and cleric alike. Lay voices matter. In his Commonwealmagazine article on Francis’ exhortation, Vatican pundit Massimo Faggioli says, “… the direction of this pontificate is toward a non-ideological magisterium, a more inclusive Church, a Church of mercy.”
Regarding conscience, the Pope says in his letter: “We also find it hard to make room for the consciences of the faithful, who very often respond as best they can to the Gospel amid their limitations, and are capable of carrying out their own discernment in complex situations. We have been called to form consciences, not to replace them.” And as Francis says elsewhere in his letter, “A pastor cannot feel that it is enough simply to apply moral laws to those living in ‘irregular’ situations, as if they were stones to throw at people’s lives.”
As an organization whose mission calls for the Faithful “to actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Church,” VOTF welcomes this affirmation of our efforts and encourages lay Catholics to raise their voices.
More on the responsibilities and rights of the laity is available at votf.org by using the Lay Education button under Programs.
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in the governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.
Contact: Nick Ingala, firstname.lastname@example.org(link sends e-mail), (781) 559-3360
In meeting with Fellay, Pope Francis shows double standard in the ‘culture of encounter’ / National Catholic Reporter
Earlier this week (Apr. 4), NCR’s Joshua J. McElwee reported that, on April 1, Pope Francis met with Bishop Bernard Fellay, the Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X. Founded in 1970 by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the Society widely rejects the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.
“According to the society’s website, the ‘false teachings’ of Vatican II include the Council’s exhortations on religious liberty, ecumenism, liturgical reforms, collegiality and what they call the ‘modernist’ idea that ‘that the human conscience is the supreme arbiter of good and evil for each individual.’ The society is an ardent defender of the Tridentine Mass (Fellay’s liturgical dress rivals any garb donned by Cardinal Raymond Burke) and believes passionately in the supremacy of the Roman Catholic church over all other religions …
“If Francis can offer a forty-minute, private meeting to a formerly excommunicated bishop who has been performing the sacraments illicitly for decades and who believes that the Catholic church is laced with false teachings, why can’t the pope also extend the same invitation to Catholic theologians, ethicists, and lay ministers who challenge the church’s teaching on women’s ordination, the use of contraception, and the full inclusion of LGBTQ persons?”
By Jamie Mason, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this column.
Sadly, Fr. Roy Bourgeois learned recently that the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in October had dismissed him from the Maryknoll order and also released him from “his sacred bonds” (i.e., removed him from the priesthood). As Voice of the Faithful® noted previously, such action in response to an act of conscience stands in stark contrast to the Vatican’s failure to censure bishops who failed to act morally when it came to child abuse by priests.
For those interested in Church teachings on conscience, here is a link to the pertinent sections (Part III, Section 1, Chapter 1, Article 6: 1776-1802) of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the Vatican website. Voice of the Faithful® also has published a study guide on conscience, Conscience and Excommunication: A Dilemma, which was first posted in 2008 when Fr. Bourgeois faced excommunication.
In response to the organized efforts of the U.S. bishops to define a single permissible “Catholic” position on election issues this year, Voice of the Faithful® issues the following statement:
All Catholics have a primary responsibility to act according to their own consciences. Not the conscience of a bishop. Not the conscience of a parish priest. Not the consciences of neighbors or family members or employers or friends. Your own conscience. You are answerable to God for your own actions. No one else’s.
F.Y.I. — On Oct. 30, National Catholic Reporter explored how, during every election cycle, voter guides advise Catholics how to vote based on the “intrinsically evil” concept in its editorial, ‘Intrinsically Evil’ Canard Is a Deception.
Under pressure from Bishop Robert J. McManus of Worcester, Massachusetts, late last month, Anna Maria College, a Catholic institution in Worcester of about 1,200 students, rescinded its offer to Victoria Reggie Kennedy, widow of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, to speak and receive an honorary degree in public administration, apparently because her views are out of line with Catholic teaching.
Kennedy is a private citizen, lifelong Catholic, lawyer and founder of Common Sense about Kids and Guns, a nonprofit public education organization dedicated to providing adults with information empowering them to protect their children. She is not an appointed public official, holds no public office and is not running for any public office.
The Boston Globe reported that, after the Worcester Telegram & Gazette announced Kennedy’s appearance at the school, the bishop approached Anna Maria College “arguing that on certain issues—particularly abortion and gay rights—Kennedy’s apparent beliefs made her an inappropriate choice.” The Boston Globe also quoted the diocese’s and Kennedy’s statements.
Diocesan spokesman Ray Delisle said the bishop acted consistently with the USCCB’s (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) 2004 statement “that Catholic institutions should not honor Catholics who take positions publicly which are contrary to the Catholic faith’s most fundamental principles, particularly on the dignity of life from conception and the sanctity of marriage.”
In her statement, Kennedy said, “He (Bishop McManus) has not consulted with my pastor to learn more about me or my faith. Yet by objecting to my appearance at Anna Maria College, he has made a judgment about my worthiness as a Catholic. This is a sad day for me and an even sadder day for the Church I love.”
The Catholic Free Press interviewed Bishop McManus, who said, “My concern basically was that to give this type of honor to Mrs. Kennedy would in fact undercut the Catholic identity and mission of the school and that, in so far as that happens, the ‘communio’ or unity that exists between the local church and the local Catholic college is strained and hurt. That’s my major concern, that in our ongoing attempt to implement Ex Corde Ecclesiae (apostolic constitution calling Catholic colleges to refocus on their Catholic identity and mission) that the Catholic colleges realize that this is a partnership between the local bishop and their leadership and administration.”
Voice of the Faithful has noted that U.S. bishops are acting increasingly more like enforcers, demanding that Catholics obey, rather than acting like teachers and shepherds, guiding the faithful to right conscience. Some might say the bishops are reflecting a flawed culture of clericalism, whereby the hierarchy feels itself above and set apart from a laity not competent in mind or influence of the Holy Spirit to make moral decisions. Others might say the bishop was within his rights to pressure the college to take back its invitation.
Read the following points of view and, considering them and the above, let us know what you think.
“This issue is also about the freedom of Catholic institutions of higher education to discuss and analyze in an open forum conflicting opinions and beliefs about social and economic policies affecting all Catholics.”
“It is the responsibility of the whole of the sensus fidelium to question the teaching (of the magisterium) if so moved by conscience in a respectful dialogue, just as it is the reciprocal duty of the magisterium to give thoughtful consideration.”
“The Catholic Church teaches that abortion is wrong. Vicki Kennedy supports abortion. This is not about clericalism, as some have proposed. This is about a direct assault on the teaching of the Catholic Church. If you do not agree with that teaching, that is your choice. But, if you are a public figure who is representing a model Catholic at a Catholic institution, the scrutiny is acute.”
“Does Vicki Kennedy support abortion in general or does she only oppose legislation criminalizing abortion? There is a big difference. The bishops have generally made no distinctions and simply labeled all who do not favor a constitutional amendment prohibiting abortion as ‘pro-abortion.’”
“I find this emblematic of clericalism and the close-mindedness and double-standards of church hierarchy. This type of prohibition attempts to control / silence people whose thinking does not perfectly match the teachings of the Magisterium. Adult Catholics should be “permitted” (i.e., have the right) to think and listen for the stirrings of the Holy Spirit in their conscience. Instead of allowing for the expansion of discussion guided by the Spirit, bishops’ proclamations of this type cut off discussion at the knees.”