First, the blogpost, which was written by Jon O'Brien, of "Catholics" for Choice writes: Bishops Not on the Same Page as Pelosi, American Catholics.
The group has previously gone by the name Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC) and the USCCB has made a statement on them with some of the strongest language, calling it, "an arm of the abortion lobby" and saying, "The public relations effort [of CFFC] has ridiculed the Holy See in language reminiscent of other episodes of anti-Catholic bigotry that the Catholic Church has endured in the past."
The title of Jon O'Brien's post alone should get your attention (and I've wondered how it is that a non-elected official managed to write to that section of, "The Hill" - their congress blog, meant for....elected officials). Mr. O'Brien wants the Church to conform to Pelosi. It's the old argument that you should do your own thinking rather than let the Church think for you.
Of course, those of us who accept the Church's teachings, and are obedient to them, are not held captive by the Church. How so? You have to be free to choose obedience. Faith seeks understanding, not the other way around. If a person has to understand everything before he can accept it as truth, then he has no faith. That is why Christ gave us the Church which has been unwavering on faith and morals over 2000 years.
This is why I keep the caption down at the bottom of every post on obedience (scroll down) because people think it is actually a higher form of behavior to make a personal choice rather than follow a learned institution with 2000 years of experience.
The Blessed Virgin Mary was obedient to God's will by saying, "yes" to the Angel Gabriel and he awaited her consent. Jesus was obedient to God's will by accepting a painful, agonizing death. Submitting to God's will through the hands of others, is exemplified throughout Scripture. Not my will God, but Yours (and the mantra of many Catholics today is, "Your will Lord, as long as it agrees with mine". They don't want to follow Christ to calvary by submitting the one thing that is most difficult, yet so precious to God: their will.")
Mr. O'Brien, says:
Despite what many bishops might hope, they cannot impose teachings on an unwilling faithful. Barely a fifth (22%) of Catholics in the US agree with the bishops that abortion should be completely illegal, and Catholic women in the US have abortions at the same rate as women in the population as a whole. In fact, while the bishops may seek to make abortion an election issue, it is clear from a poll conducted by the noted Washington, DC, firm Belden Russonello and Stewart, that many of the hierarchy’s teachings on reproductive health and rights have not been received by the faithful.Using this blogposter's rationale, if 30 people are sitting at a red light, or 1000 for that matter, and 100% of them say that the light is green, does that mean they can "go"? Of course not, there will be a slaughter on the road. That's how truth works. It's not shades of gray, and it can't mean different things. You can't have one person say that a compass points North, and other say it points South, and have both of those statements be true.
The author falls flat in another way. I'll use this example: Because so many people supported segregation in the south, was that justification to not desegregate back decades ago? Look how many politicians supported it, and pounded their fists on podiums in defense of it. Now fast forward to today and you can plainly see how ridiculous those people looked, to suggest that people should be divided based on race! Mark my words, the same will happen with the abortion issue in years to come.
In the parapgraph previous to that, the author states:
On conscience, Catholic politicians need no reminding that Catholic teaching requires them to follow their own consciences—even if it is in conflict with church teaching. In addition, Catholic teaching requires at least tolerance, if not respect, for other people’s decisions.
This is the biggest hack against the Catholic faith happening in political circles in recent years. It's prompted by a perverted understanding of Vatican II which people distort for all kinds of reasons.
What does the Church really teach about conscience? First, conscience needs to be properly formed.
II. THE FORMATION OF CONSCIENCE
1783 Conscience must be informed and moral judgment enlightened. A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulates its judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator. The education of conscience is indispensable for human beings who are subjected to negative influences and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and to reject authoritative teachings.
1784 The education of the conscience is a lifelong task. From the earliest years, it awakens the child to the knowledge and practice of the interior law recognized by conscience. Prudent education teaches virtue; it prevents or cures fear, selfishness and pride, resentment arising from guilt, and feelings of complacency, born of human weakness and faults. The education of the conscience guarantees freedom and engenders peace of heart.
1785 In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path,54 we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. We must also examine our conscience before the Lord's Cross. We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church.55
Next the Catechism of the Catholic Church talks about following one's conscience:
III. TO CHOOSE IN ACCORD WITH CONSCIENCE
1786 Faced with a moral choice, conscience can make either a right judgment in accordance with reason and the divine law or, on the contrary, an erroneous judgment that departs from them.
1787 Man is sometimes confronted by situations that make moral judgments less assured and decision difficult. But he must always seriously seek what is right and good and discern the will of God expressed in divine law.
1788 To this purpose, man strives to interpret the data of experience and the signs of the times assisted by the virtue of prudence, by the advice of competent people, and by the help of the Holy Spirit and his gifts.
1789 Some rules apply in every case:
- One may never do evil so that good may result from it;
- the Golden Rule: "Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them."56
- charity always proceeds by way of respect for one's neighbor and his conscience: "Thus sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience . . . you sin against Christ."57 Therefore "it is right not to . . . do anything that makes your brother stumble."58
Then, the CCC gets into erroneous judgment. Here is where our political blogposter slips up on his presentation of Catholic teaching:
IV. ERRONEOUS JUDGMENTHence, if you have been properly informed of Catholic teaching and openly reject it, you can't really claim invincible ignorance any longer.
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."59 In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits.
1792 Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one's passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church's authority and her teaching, 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, or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous judgment, the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience.
1794 A good and pure conscience is enlightened by true faith, for charity proceeds at the same time "from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith."60
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.61
It is for this reason that bishops will invite someone someone who is committing a public act of defiance to Catholic teaching to his office for a private meeting (which has happened with some Catholic politicians already), or they will send a letter informing them of their error. In recent decades, bishops have been less likely to exercise this aspect of their office, but in just a few short years, this has been changing quite rapidly. It's their job to teach the faithful and many bishops, especially newer bishops, have been taking this task very serious. When error is made in a largely public way, the bishops have to make a public correction. Pelosi opened wide that door on Meet the Press.
You see now, why so many bishops have issued personal statements to their dioceses. A Catholic politician, on national TV, distorted the faith, and the faithful can be led into scandal. The errancy had to be corrected quickly.
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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!