14 April 2016, The Tablet

Power of conscience puts laity at centre of change


It would be right to describe the publication of Amoris Laetitia by Pope Francis as a minor earthquake, though one preceded by plenty of warning tremors. And while the Catholic Church’s foundations may have been shaken, the walls and roof are still standing. Francis was well aware when he was elected Pope that the basic weakness in the Church’s mission to evangelise was its reputation as a stern and unforgiving teacher in the field of sexual and marital ethics, something that touches people’s lives most intimately. Put simply, it did not sound like the gentle voice of a loving mother. Francis had to respect as far as possible the content of the teaching. But he could change the one thing that may matter more than content for ordinary Catholics – its tone.

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User Comments (2)

Comment by: Lepanto
Posted: 21/04/2016 22:58:33
The supremacy of conscience. What a marvel. Men and women of the faith long ago and recently, gave their lives for what used to be considered objective truths held as coming from Christ Himself. The conscience cannot reign supreme over anything but its own free will. Knowledge of truth is what is supposed to guide the intellect and the will. What do we now make of those retrospectively, who believed based on their conscience as supreme guide in: Gnosticism, Arianism, Montanism, Pelagianism, Nestorianism, Catharism, Iconoclasm, and so many more? If a man in a so called ‘irregular’ situation, whatever that is supposed to entail, can now find a way to rationalize ongoing sexual acts in a type of relationship, that historically for the past 2,000 years the Church said was clearly grave, then may God help us all. This is no different than the temptation of Eden. “Did God really say not to eat of the tree…?” How many examples of conscience reigning supreme over infallible and precise Church teaching, should we begin to cite, to demonstrate the enormous danger of this new ‘discipline,’ which is really a lack of discipline. What about Henry VIII’s ‘conscience’? This statement is incontrovertible, and I challenge any theologian, any commentator, any Catholic, who claims to be able to refute this simple and unfortunate logic… to do so.
Comment by: CDNKassala
Posted: 20/04/2016 09:44:15
In my more than ten-year experience of teaching the social doctrine of the Church in Africa, and this applies to Amoris laetitia, I have learnt that - with regard to Church's teaching - what is logical is not always practical; what is practical is not always right; what is right is not always ethical; what is ethical is not always desired; and what is desired is not always logical. Is this kind of vicious circle also a problem in other parts of the world?