The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


Santorum on Catholics, conscience and Kennedy

posted by jmcgee

Another commentator has added his voice to the chorus chiming in about Patrick Kennedy and Bishop Tobin.

Here’s former Senator Rick Santorum:

Thumbnail image for rick-santorum.jpgSimply put, the church has membership requirements. Kennedy is free to reject them. What he is not free to do is redefine them for himself and condemn the church for not accepting his definition.

But can’t what Kennedy calls our “imperfect humanity” lead Catholics to support legal abortion? Tobin made short work of this political philosophizing. Our “imperfect humanity” refers to our common struggles with sins such as anger, pride, greed, impurity, or dishonesty, the bishop said. “Your rejection of the church’s teaching on abortion falls into a different category. It’s a deliberate and obstinate act of the will; a conscious decision that you’ve reaffirmed on many occasions.”

Kennedy and other politicians have an obligation to review any conflict with the church’s core moral teachings with their bishop and determine if it’s so grave as to require their leaving either public office or the church. A letter Tobin wrote to Kennedy in 2007 indicated that the bishop felt the matter was grave enough that he should not present himself for Communion.

On MSNBC’s Hardball, Tobin was more emphatic: “The point is that any Catholic in public office – his first commitment has to be to his faith … because it involves your relationship with God,” he told Chris Matthews. “And if … your job gets in the way of your faith, … you need to quit your job and save your soul. Nothing can become more important than your relationship with God.”

In a recent attempt to defend Kennedy, Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Bucks County said, “We don’t legislate at the orders of the Vatican; we legislate what is in our conscience and what we think is good for our country.”

I agree. But in 16 years as a Catholic in public office, I never received an order from the Vatican or any clergyman.

I also agree with Murphy – as does the catechism – that Catholics must be true to their consciences. But that is not a free-floating guide that we can define ourselves. A Catholic is required to form his conscience in accordance with the church’s teachings on faith and reason, and to act in a morally coherent and consistent way, both privately and publicly.

Finally, the church maintains that there is a natural law that forms the basic moral foundation of society and that can be known through the exercise of reason. Thus, a Catholic public official with a well-formed conscience can arrive at correct moral conclusions not by faith, but by reason.

You can read the whole thing at the Inquirer link.



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Mary

posted December 3, 2009 at 9:15 am


Quite simply, Jesus asked, “What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” (Matthew 16:26a). Make a decision to be with God or against Him, and if your life’s work puts you at odds with your salvation, the choice is yours…



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Klaire

posted December 3, 2009 at 9:30 am


This is Santorium at his best, and yes, he “walks the walk.” There is no question that he lost his Senate seat because he DID live out his Catholic Faith, by putting it first. I once heard him being interviewed by Michael Medved while still in office, and what I took away most was how committed he was to live the faith, regardless of the consequences.
Now if only some of the MSM “Catholics”, would walk the talk as well. Kennedy might be the cause of scandal, but in the big picture, IMO, O’Reilly & Hannity , who have two of the largest American audiences, create a far greater scandal. No, they don’t have to “teach” the faith on their shows, but when they chose to get the “I’m Catholic” down from the shelf to sell books or for a ‘ratings advantage’, they have an obligation to NOT distort the faith (although it’s quite obvious both are still stuck in their grade school catechesis).
Laura Ingraham, a recent convert to Catholicism, is an example of one who does walk the talk. Heck, even Beck and Palin (both baptized Catholics at birth) are more ‘Catholic’ then gasbags O’Reilly and Hannity.
I shudder at the lost opportunity/witness O’Reilly and Hannity “miss” by not knowing their faith.



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Lynn

posted December 3, 2009 at 11:05 am


“…Catholics must be true to their consciences. But that is not a free-floating guide that we can define ourselves. A Catholic is required to form his conscience in accordance with the church’s teachings on faith and reason, and to act in a morally coherent and consistent way, both privately and publicly.”
While I don’t have any issue at all with his comment about consistency, it seems that Mr. Santorum [among others]defines a ‘well-formed conscience’ as one that is in complete accord with all the official teachings of the Church. There’s a trap in there: We are free to follow our well-formed conscience. We quite reasonably have an obligation to form our conscience through study and prayer. BUT, If we come to a reasoned, prayerful conclusion that differs at all from the official teaching, our conscience is not ‘well-formed’ and we are not free to follow it. Or at least, not to follow it and consider ourselves Catholic. Hmmm…..wouldn’t it be easier to say ‘you’re free to agree in all respects with what we teach [after all, we are by definition correct] or go someplace else. How Jesus-like.
Note, please, that I am explicitly not saying anything about abortion or Mr. Kennedy, only a logical trap that I see in Mr. Santorum’s comments.



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Your Name

posted December 3, 2009 at 11:43 am


Lynn, I think you might be confused between feelings/passions, and ture conscience, since authentic conscience is always in the true light of Christ, consequently, it would be impossible to go against the dogmatic teachings of the CC.
This quick read explains it better than I could:
http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2007/0709fea3.asp



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Deacon John M. Bresnahan

posted December 3, 2009 at 6:43 pm


Lynn—Part of the problem is that most Catholic politicians (to keep the Catholic vote) have claimed that they are “personally opposed” to abortion, BUT must represent what they claim are the opinions of their constituents. Now there is only one real reason to be personally opposed to abortion in conscience and that is the belief that a human life is being exterminated, slaughtered. So what they are publicly doing (although the media fastidiously refuses to point this out) is trashing their consciences out of ambition and a lust for political POWER.
According to one history on the Kennedys this strategy was cooked up at a meeting of Kennedy political operatives and the late radical Jesuit Father Drinan when Sen. Ted Kennedy wanted to flip from pro-life to pro-abort. And it has served many “Catholic” politicians who like “to dance with the devil in the pale moonlight.”
Oddly enough polls now show that “Catholic” politicians of this stripe are NOT representing their constituents on this issue–especially on spending tax money to kill the unborn. Most polls show 60-70% opposition to this, BUT the “Catholic” pro-aborts still march to Planned Parenthood’s corrupt doctrines (which shows what liars they been ALL ALONG).



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Mike

posted December 3, 2009 at 10:24 pm


Lynn, I think you might be confused between feelings/passions, and ture conscience, since authentic conscience is always in the true light of Christ, consequently, it would be impossible to go against the dogmatic teachings of the CC.
That might be true if the Catholic Church were more than one (very large) denomination. It is not. Thank God.



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Lynn

posted December 4, 2009 at 7:46 am


Your Name,
I’m not confused in the slightest. I’m just not convinced that the fine fellows in Rome are necessarily as correct on all matters as they think, and would compel us to think, that they are. Thus, I don’t agree that it would be impossible for a ‘true’ conscience to be in disagreement with the dogma of the Catholic Church. No doubt I’ve studied too much logic and history for the hierarchy’s taste, too. Nevertheless, I will keep on doing the best I can to live up to the call to love God and my neighbor and care for more than my own interests.
Deacon John, I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said, but it’s not what I was commenting on, either. We mortals are pretty good at creating situations that put a person’s duty in potential conflict with their personal preferences/desires/consciences. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes not. That political figures would use that situation to their personal or political advantage is nothing new…..



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posted November 16, 2012 at 11:39 am


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