Saturday, March 05, 2011

“Conscience is the Highest Norm”

My friend Paula Ruddy’s most recent article at The Progressive Catholic Voice is generating some great discussion. I particularly appreciate the following comment by “Lisa.”

As a life-long Catholic, I have always known my Church is not perfect. [Members of the clerical leadership] are mistaken about women’s issues (ordination) and are mistaken about their view on homosexuality. They were mistaken about Joan of Arc when they put her to death, and mistaken about Galileo when they put him under house arrest. It took my Church nearly 400 years to apologize to Galileo. Although the leaders may not apologize to my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in my lifetime they should not continue to “burn them at the stake” by denying them their civil rights.

Although I disagree with my Church on some issues, I can remain a Catholic in good conscience because of important church teachings such as primacy of conscience. As Cardinal Ratzinger wrote, before he became Pope Benedict: “Morality of conscience and morality of authority as two opposing models, appear to be locked in struggle with each other. Accordingly, the freedom of the Christian would be rescued by appeal to the classical principle of moral tradition that conscience is the highest norm which man is to follow even in opposition to authority.”

Thank you, Paula, and The Progressive Catholic Voice, for helping Catholics such as myself inform our conscience.

To join the discussion, click here.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Reflections on the Primacy of Conscience
The Question of an Informed Conscience
A Catholic Understanding of Faithful Dissent (Part 1)
A Catholic Understanding of Faithful Dissent (Part 2)
Ascertaining the Common Good
John Cornwell on the “Political Hijacking” of Cardinal Newman
A Catholic’s Prayer for His Fellow Pilgrim, Benedict XVI

Image: “Conscience”: Artist unknown.