Mudcat Café message #3490573 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #149850   Message #3490573
Posted By: Joe Offer
15-Mar-13 - 03:21 AM
Thread Name: BS: Catholic religion response to 'today'
Subject: RE: BS: Catholic religion response to 'today'
Bonnie asks: Using Joe's reasoning, in this case it would be OK for the doctor-husband to perform the termination, because they have sincerely consulted their consciences. Is this correct?

That is correct, Bonnie. The Catholic Church might excommunicate both the doctor and the pregnant woman - but excommunication is an administrative action of the Catholic Church, and does not necessarily coincide with moral culpability.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains it quite clearly:

If you'd like to see the entire line of thinking, follow the link. I replied to MtheGM that the teaching on conscience goes back at least to Thomas Aquinas, but it's quite in line with the anti-legalistic teaching of Jesus that is expressed in the New Testament.

This idea of primacy of conscience is hard for our legalistic world to understand, and many in authority in the Catholic Church do some fancy dance steps in attempts to assert their own authority. Church authorities often don't make it easy for Catholics to follow their consciences in moral decisions. A Mercy sister in our province was excommunicated by her archbishop for following her conscience in just such a situation. She was vice president of St. Joseph's hospital in Phoenix, and a member of the hospital's ethics board. She voted with the board to allow the hospital to perform an abortion when the mother's life was in danger. The hospital also lost its status as a Catholic hospital, and it can no longer have a Catholic chapel. In a wonderful statement of solidarity, the world headquarters of the Sisters of Mercy in Dublin is now home for the tabernacle from the hospital chapel.

When I was a kid, our religious education consisted mostly of memorizing questions and answers from the Baltimore Catechism, a compendium of the teachings of the Catholic Church that was based on the Catechism of Trent of the 16th century. In many ways, it was a dumb way to teach religion, but I still have those questions and answers in my head - and they're still solid theology. Most of it had a very positive tone, and there wasn't the emphasis on hellfire and damnation that so many people say they learned from the nuns.

I didn't hear much about hellfire and damnation from the Dominican nuns I had in grade school, or from the diocesan priests who taught me for eight years in the seminary in Milwaukee.

We had Passionist or Redemptorist priests come to the parish once a year to preach a parish "mission" - nightly sessions for the men one week, and for the women the next week. They always did the "hell" sermon on the last night, and it was always the most popular evening because those preachers were so graphic and dramatic and colorful in their presentations. The preachers heard confessions for hours after those presentations. Oh - and that was the night that the preachers took up the collection to pay for their services. But other than that one night a year, we didn't hear much about hell.

The Passionists and Redemptorists still preach parish missions, but they don't do "hell night" any more; and men and women attend together. Both orders of priests are renowned for their preaching and storytelling.

-Joe-