Conscience vs. authority at Pope Francis’ Synod on the Family (ANALYSIS)

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Pope Francis and prelates attend the morning session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican on Oct. 9, 2014. Photo by Paul Haring, courtesy of Catholic News Service

Pope Francis and prelates attend the morning session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican on Oct. 9, 2014. Photo by Paul Haring, courtesy of Catholic News Service

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(RNS) The conflict between conscience and authority is the pre-eminent battle underlying the debates at the Vatican's Synod on the Family.

  • philip

    Enjoyed your article. This will not be the first or the last time the Catholic Church, also known by the name I like Cat Corp – 501 -C3, the first multi-national corporation that I know of on earth, will have a marketing meeting to ponder “Is it better to keep a sinful child close enough to garner possible change?”
    European Catholics have precipitously declined in participating in Catholic functions . Like any true business, if your profit margin falls, you are more likely to become insolvent. I’m talking about all the land, the buildings, the Catholic Church owns. We have seen where the Catholic Church has lost property and churches because their market share in that region collapsed.
    On one hand you have the purists, sometimes I can be one, who say, “Let them go to Hell; we have our standards!” On the other hand, you have the realists (like Jesus was), “I gave life to all My children, the good ones and the bad ones. But, make no mistake, I do not set rules to keep those from entering My house and talking to me.”
    When Russia fell, the Catholic Church stood up: over 2,000 priests were murdered; churches were burned to the ground. In Mexico during the Cristo Rey War in the 1920’s, the Church was forcefully closed. Priests were forbidden to say Mass under penalty of death. In America, Catholics from the start faced persecution. In the 30’s, Congress passed a law stating that churches did not have freedom of speech. In 1954, Lyndon Baines Johnson saw to it that churches would almost be required to be a 501-C3 corporation, which puts all churches, except for the few who do not have that status, under fear of Federal Government edicts.
    The Catholic Church in the last 40 years, has learned to bend in the wind of social upheaval and change. It knows it cannot afford to stand rigid and break, for then you lose everything for 2 or 3 generations. This is one of those moments. The Church has the choice to bend to what is or to break. My opinion: like any good corporation, you meet the needs of your customers. And that’s what the Church should do.
    On a religious note: I think it’s been too long of a travesty to alienate good people because of contraception, divorce, or if you are an LGBT person. Via con Dios mi amigo. Philip

  • Bob

    Good article. As a practicing Catholic I, too, have a problem with the Church’s teaching concerning what constitutes a ‘mortal’ sin in so far sexual practices are concerned (there are others, but for now I’ll stick with sexual practices). A husband and wife, should, in good conscience be able to limit the size of their family without risking ‘mortal’ separation from God for using ‘artificial’ birth-control, as long as it is medically safe. I mean, the ‘natural’ method prevents the same thing – conception – and is considred a ‘licit’ way for a couple to limit the size of its family. I see no concernalbe difference between the two – since sex isn’t used soley for procreation, but is a very intimate way of communication between husband and wife, aside from its medical benefits.
    As far as ‘punishing’ the innocent party in the case of divorce by refusing them Holy Communion is really unjust on the face of it. First the offending party leaves their ‘spouse’ high and dry through abandonment, or through physical (or sexual) abuse and there are no ‘eclesiastical’ consequences to the offending party – since they could care less about such things – and now, the innocent party is expected to live celebate for the rest of his/her life. Jesus visited with sinners while walking on earth – I’m sure it is people such as these, who, through no fault of their own find themselves suddenly alone, who need our Lord in Holy Communion even more than there rest of us do. Just my thoughts on these two subjects.

  • Fran

    This church has not been unified nor taught the truth for centuries. It would be wiser to leave her in masse. My parents did so and I am grateful for that.

  • rwpauli

    It’s sad to think some parent has spent good money to send this dissident Catholic to Georgetown University. There are so many theological errors in your thinking that it would take me hours to refute. The meaningless low blow about telling their sins to celibate men; the utter falicy of citing a repentent death row inmate versus an unrepentant couple; elevation of conscience over authority (hint, try elevating your conscience over Christ’s words and see where that gets you; implying reduced attendance would be corrected by loosining standards (note how Jesus let ALL walk away when he told them they would have to eat his flesh and drink his blood. He didn’t holler after them, “Hey, wait. I didn’t mean what I said.” Your article is a combination of Protestant thinking and moral relativism. I recommend you find a Catholic priest who adheres to Church orthodoxy and have a long discussion with him while you are participating in the sacrement of Penance.

  • Art

    @Jacob Lupfer.
    “But on some level, I remain grateful that Rome has no authority over my conscience. The trouble for the church is that a lot of Catholics think like I do.”
    What! You dare spit on Pope? You need to fall into line bro! Your god on earth is not happy with this kind of statement… “no authority over my conscience” news flash Jacob… you may think you are a Catholic – not! You are a protest – tant.

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  • George

    You are what we call a heretic. You should be ashamed of yourself put your own conscience above church teachings. This is why people are leaving the church so they can be “individualistic” which inevitable leads to narcissism. Shame on you. I also refer to Mathew 22:12 which directly speaks to protestants.