John Kerry and Pius XXIII
I do not like writing posts about Sen Kerry. I believe it is important for a Catholics for Bush blog or group to concentrate on issues important to and stories on President Bush and how they relate to Catholics. An example would be stories dealing with the 'culture of life'. Yet, Sen Kerry every once and awhile drops a quote dealing with the Church and this one I could not let pass. His lack of understanding concerning 'freedom of conscience' warrants some comment. Here's the quote:
"I'm not a church spokesman. I'm a legislator running for president. My oath is to uphold the Constitution of the United States in my public life. My oath privately between me and God was defined in the Catholic church by Pius XXIII and Pope Paul VI in the Vatican II, which allows for freedom of conscience for Catholics with respect to these choices, and that is exactly where I am. And it is separate. Our constitution separates church and state, and they should be reminded of that."
I can not fault Sen Kerry for confusing John XXIII and Pius XII, but it is kind of telling is it not?
Cardinal Avery Dulles in a 1995 First Things article hits on the reality of what the Church teaches regarding 'freedom of conscience' He quotes John Paul II encyclical Veritatis Splendor, the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium, St Bonaventure, John Henry Newman, and scripture to show the true Church teaching. The following quote from Newman's Letter to the Duke of Norfolk should be read by Sen Kerry:
All sciences, except the science of Religion, have their certainty in themselves; as far as they are sciences, they consist of necessary conclusions from undeniable premises, or of phenomena manipulated into general truths by an irresistible deduction. But the sense of right and wrong, which is the first element in religion, is so delicate, so fitful, so easily puzzled, obscured, perverted, so subtle in its argumentative methods, so impressible by education, so biased by pride and passion, so unsteady in its flight, that, in the struggle for existence amid the various exercises and triumphs of the human intellect, this sense is at once the highest of all teachers, yet the least luminous; and the Church, the Pope, the Hierarchy are, in the Divine purpose, the supply of an urgent demand.
The bottom line here is Sen Kerry's idea of conscience, what it is, what it means to a Catholic, how it is formed, etc. is wrong. You could say it is misguided or just different than other ideas, but I say it is wrong because he characterizes his ideas as actual Church teaching and they certainly are not. It is one thing to put one's own soul in grave danger but quite another to lead others with false teaching into that same danger. Heretics were dealt with in the past because they led so many astray. What will our Church do to this new heretic and his false teachings?