I cannot commit a sin if I do not know, or if my conscience does not fully understand, that what I am doing is sinful. This fact does not free me, however, from the obligation to accept what the Church teaches. It does not give me the right or the authority to become a truth unto myself, an independent arbiter of reality. The universal and infallible Magisterium of the Church tells us that abortion is gravely sinful. Everyone who has been educated in the faith knows this fact. It is not an opinion -- it is there, written in the Catechism and in countless dicasteral and papal documents in black and white. I don't have to understand, I don't have to agree. I simply have to obey and believe.
People maintain that one has a fundamental obligation to refrain from following orders that are immoral. Thus, junior grade Nazi officers were not insulated from prosecution for atrocities merely because they were "following orders." But first of all, this principle applies only to the laws and orders of civil authorities: "when the laws of men and the laws of God collide, the laws of men give way." It is fundamentally inapplicable to this situation. For if the doctrines of the Church are not the laws of God, than what are either of these? The conscience is not an escape valve, it is the bearer and enforcer of a terrible obligation: the obligation to do what is right. There is no more "basic principle" than that it is the Church that tells us what is right and what is wrong. Second, nobody is being ordered to ordered to actively carry out any order here, so the conscience defense is fundamentally inapplicable. The requirement placed upon Catholics is a negative: thou shalt not facilitate the procurement of abortion. If you insist that you believe that abortion is evil, or naughty, or undesirable, or whatever term is being used, then how on earth can you say that your conscience requires you to take the proactive step of assisting others in its procurment? You take proactive steps to facilitate that which is good. We are never permitted to facilitate directly that which is evil. The necessity of refraining from an ordered positive action (like refusing to shoot POWs) is intrinsically different from the necessity of engaging in a positive action (promoting abortion) when commanded to be, at minimum, silent. They simply aren't the same.
I'm not going to fisk the whole document. I'm not interested in it, and others have already done this. The most fundamental problem is that politicians -- or anyone, really -- have the audacity to place themselves above the Church, to attempt to create an "out" for themselves to do whatsoever they please. This is not the action of conscience. It is the submission to the will of the Prince of Lies. For this, like all sin, is a lie: "I do not have to do what the Church says, for the Church obviously does not possess and infallibly teach Divine Truth. I am like God." It is a very old error indeed, as old as error itself. These 55 men and women, regardless of what gurgling and strangled noises of their tormented consciences may surface in their mind, are guilty of what they know to be a greivous transgression; they know what the Church teaches, and they have chosen to do otherwise. They have attempted to "call" the Church, thinking that our Truth is merely a bluff. May the fury of their bishops be immense. And failing that, may God show mercy on their souls. Satan's rewards to those who do his bidding are not desirable.
Our Lady, Help of Christians and Extermatrix of heretics, pray for us.
File Under: Politics,, Doctrine,, Catholic_Stuff