Benedict and The Globe and Mail

Saturday’s front page story in The Globe and Mail on Pope Benedict’s condemnation of  Canada’s Catholic elected politicians for supporting same sex marriage and not legislating against abortion (we are one of the few western countries that has no law governing abortion) provoked a spate of letters in Monday’s paper.  There were eight in all, all of them disagreeing with the Pope.  (I am sure somebody from Opus Dei will enter the field on Tuesday). One writer said a small non elected band of male celibates in Rome should not be telling Canadian politcians how to vote. Another said Catholics do nor form their conscience by blindly following the Pope.

     My own letter had the virtue of being the shortest: “Pope Benedict has a perfect right to condemn same-sex marriage and abortion.  His condemation of Catholic politicians who support these policies is more problematic.

     After all, our politicians swear to uphold the Constitution of Canada not the catechism of the Catholic Church.”

     Sadly, most of the time we hear anything from Rome it is another condemation of something or other. 

8 Comments »

  1. 1
    SUZANNE Says:

    You can read lots from Rome from Zenit.org I’m sure Catholics would love to see more in the mainstream media that is positive about the Catholic Faith.

    The Pope MUST condemn Catholic politicians, because Catholics are still required to think and behave as Catholics, even though they’re elected.

    Religious freedom means that a Catholic, including a Catholic politician has the right to be Catholic in every aspect of his life. If you had to park your religion at the door of the House of Commons, what kind of religious freedom would that be? You get to consult your conscience, except when that conscience is religiously informed? That is actually somewhat de-humanizing.

    But as it is, very few politicians are personally condemned. The bishops in the Church don’t have the guts to sanction politicians. There’s still a spirit of political correctness in the Church. It may not be as strong as in secular society, but it is still present.

  2. 2

    Religious freedom also means that half the citizens of Canada who are not Catholic have the right not to be coerced by a foreign power whose spokesman is the pope.

    As for Catholic politicians, they are obliged to take the Pope’s teaching into consideration when they are forming their conscience. But the pope’s teaching is not to be followed automatically. Before he became pope, Cardinal Ratzinger, said that the individual conscience is supreme. To condemn a Catholic politcian for following his or her informed conscience is just not on.

  3. 3
    SUZANNE Says:

    Religious freedom means you get to adopt whatever religion you want as an individual. You do not have to adhere to a state religion or church. It was never meant to impose secularism, that is, the idea that Catholics or other believers must park their beliefs at the door of the House of Commons.

    If orthodox Catholics want to vote their conscience as Catholics, they can do so.

    Religious freedom was recognized as a means to stop individuals from expressing their religious values, even in the public and political sphere. Quite the opposite. It was a means to protect those individuals who had a minority view from being persecuted.

    Before he became pope, Cardinal Ratzinger, said that the individual conscience is supreme.

    The Church has made it plain that while individual conscience is supreme, it must be INFORMED. Informed means you go to sources of truth to get informed. What is the ultimate source of truth? God’s Revelation. A Catholic who fails to inform his conscience, including informing himself of what God has revealed, is negligent. This is in the Catechism.

    To condemn a Catholic politcian for following his or her informed conscience is just not on.

    A Catholic must inform his conscience through Revelation.

    It’s pointless to say Catholics may not vote their conscience. They will. Those who say they do not have the right to do so are telling them orthodox Catholic politicians do not have the right to vote their conscience.

    It’s as simple as that. If you want politcians who vote their conscience, you must allow their faith to affect their deliberations.

    If you do not want orthodox Catholic politicians to allow their faith to affect their decisions, you are saying they cannot vote their conscience.

  4. 4
    SUZANNE Says:

    Religious freedom also means that half the citizens of Canada who are not Catholic have the right not to be coerced by a foreign power whose spokesman is the pope.

    They’re not being co-erced. They elected Catholic politicians. The pope is not telling Canadians what to believe. He’s telling Catholics what to believe. Individuals have the right to listen to whomever they want on the religious front.

    As for Catholic politicians, they are obliged to take the Pope’s teaching into consideration when they are forming their conscience. But the pope’s teaching is not to be followed automatically.

    It’s explained very clearly in Lumen Gentium 25 in the Vatican II documentation (and quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church) that Catholics are to assent to all doctrines that are solemnly proposed. It is also clearly stated in the Catechism that there are various degrees of sin for rejecting Catholic doctrine– such as voluntary doubt, incredulity and of course the big one, heresy.

    Before he became pope, Cardinal Ratzinger, said that the individual conscience is supreme. To condemn a Catholic politcian for following his or her informed conscience is just not on.

    That objection was addressed by Cardinal Ratzinger when he was the head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith in the
    Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding The Participation of Catholics in Political Life:

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20021124_politica_en.html

    In this context, it must be noted also that a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals.

    So the well-formed conscience does not vote against the tenets of the Catholic Faith. Any conscience that does so is not well-informed.

    You should read the whole document to really have an understanding of the Church’s stance on this issue.

  5. 5

    Most of what you have said indeed applies to Catholics as individuals.
    It does not apply to Catholics as elected legislators in a pluralistic society such as Canada.

    When I consider the responsibilty of Catholic legislators, I consult the laws and Constituion of Canada, not some fallible papal teaching emanating from Rome

  6. 6
    SUZANNE Says:

    When I consider the responsibilty of Catholic legislators, I consult the laws and Constituion of Canada, not some fallible papal teaching emanating from Rome

    What about the individual rights of the Catholic legislators? The right to conscience is supreme, as you said. You simply cannot give up your conscience. Otherwise, politicians will have an excuse to not do the right thing. “I can’t vote for that social justice legislation– it conforms to Catholic Doctrine, and that would be imposing my religion on others”.

  7. 7

    If there is a reasonable consensus in a pluralistic society a Catholic legislator can vote (or not) for a piece of legislation whether it conforms to Catholic teaching or does not.
    Suzanne, I appreciate and respect your comments. I am fairly new at blogging. How do I make comments on your blog? What ID and what password do I use to register? When you have a moment let me know. By the way, your have a very attractive blog.

  8. 8
    SUZANNE Says:

    You have to get a blogspot account at http://www.blogger.com

    And thank you for your compliment. You have a nice blog, too.


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