Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What the Catholic Church teaches

You've probably heard the phrase "primacy of conscience" used to describe the central premise of Catholic morality.

In hearing the phrase one would naturally think that the Catholic Church teaches people of faith that they should examine their faith and their conscience, and that by doing so they will be able to perceive the basis for correct action. In other words, this would appear to be a very modern, tolerant, view.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Newman and the Drama of True and False Conscience
By Cardinal George Pell

Cardinal John Newman's view of conscience is far from that usually held by those who speak of "primacy of conscience" today. Newman believes a good Catholic conscience can never accept a position of dissent against central Church teaching. Moral truth is the key to conscience, and this is very difficult to deny coherently.

In other words, when the Catholic Church talks about the primacy of conscience, it means what any other dictatorial regime means: do and think as you are told.

The news today provides an example of the fundamental morality of the Catholic Church's teaching.

Last November, a 27-year-old woman was admitted to St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. She was 11 weeks pregnant with her fifth child, and she was gravely ill. According to a hospital document, she had "right heart failure," and her doctors told her that if she continued with the pregnancy, her risk of mortality was "close to 100 percent."

To any decent, rational person, the choice is clear: do what is necessary to preserve the life of this young woman so she can go on living and caring for her four children. This is exactly what Sister Margaret McBride, a hospital administrator, said to do.

Great news: the woman received an abortion, and she survived.

If you're a bishop, though, this doesn't sound like good news. When Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted heard about the abortion, he declared that McBride was automatically excommunicated — the most serious penalty the church can levy.

That's right: excommunicated for the crime of saving the life of a young mother.

In case you're wondering about how Catholic morality works, and whether it is, as it appears, merely a twisted parody of actual moral reasoning, just take a guess at how many priests who raped children, or bishops who protected the child rapists, have been excommunicated.

If your guess is zero, you would be correct.

You can listen to the NPR story, and you'll hear a Catholic apologist bleat on about how he doesn't see how one thing has anything to do with the other, and maybe, just maybe, you'll be persuaded.

Or, you might be someone who desperately clings to some shred of an idea that there is any hint of morality left in the Catholic Church, and you might conclude that you were wrong, and it's just as corrupt as the rest of us have been saying.

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Anonymous Paul Zummo said...

Yep, I can see the effects of a fine Jesuit education right here.

June 04, 2010 12:29 PM  
Blogger Jack McCullough said...

Not sure I'm getting your point, there, Paul. I hope you don't consider a blind obedience to the people who run an evil enterprise to be a credit to a Jesuit, or any other, education. I sure don't.

June 06, 2010 1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what the catholic teaches is actually in contrast to what the Bible had said. roman catholic i mean. what God hates is what they are trying to justify. just remember how the serpent tempt Eve and twisted the truth and caused humanity to a fatal situation. PEOPLE WHO REALLY HAVE READ THE BIBLE KNOWS THE REAL TRUTH AND WILL NEVER CONSIDER SUCH IGNORANCE FOR THEY ALREADY HAVE SEEN IT BUT WERE BLINDED

June 20, 2010 2:05 PM  

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