Thursday, January 14, 2010

Archbishop Niederauer Corrects Nancy Pelosi

It has been known for a while that Archbishop Niederauer has been in private conversation with Nancy Pelosi about her fervent support for abortion, same-sex marriage, and a multitude of other issues that are contrary to Catholic Church teaching.  Now, Archbishop Niederauer has a column correcting some of the public statements Pelosi has made about the Catholic faith. Several snips, although I recommend a full reading.:

human freedom does not legitimate bad moral choices, nor does it justify a stance that all moral choices are good if they are free: “The exercise of freedom does not imply a right to say or do everything.” (The Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1740) Christian belief in human freedom recognizes that we are called but not compelled by God to choose constantly the values of the Gospel—faith, hope, love, mercy, justice, forgiveness, integrity and compassion.

It is entirely incompatible with Catholic teaching to conclude that our freedom of will justifies choices that are radically contrary to the Gospel—racism, infidelity, abortion, theft. Freedom of will is the capacity to act with moral responsibility; it is not the ability to determine arbitrarily what constitutes moral right.
Pelosi has defined freedom as the ability to choose whatever one wishes. This isn't true freedom and Archbishop Niederauer is spot-on.
What, then, is to guide the children of God in the use of their freedom? Again, the bishops at the Council provide the answer—conscience: “Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment . . . . For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God . . . . His conscience is man’s most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths.” (GS, No. 16) Conscience, then, is the judgment of reason whereby the human person, guided by God’s grace, recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act. In all we say and do, we are obliged to follow faithfully what we know to be just and right.

How do we form and guide our consciences? While the Church teaches that each of us is called to judge and direct his or her own actions, it also teaches that, like any good judge, each conscience masters the law and listens to expert testimony about the law. This process is called the education and formation of conscience.

Catholics believe that “the education of conscience is a lifelong task.” (CCC, No. 1784) Where do we go for this education of our consciences? Our living tradition teaches us that “In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path; we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. We must also examine our conscience before the Lord’s Cross. We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church.” (CCC, No. 1785)
Another error is believing that following your conscience is enough. While this is true, it doesn't mean that one can't have a faulty conscience. Therefore, we must continue to be formed according to the truth as proposed by the Catholic Church. This isn't being a slave or robot, but using freedom (as properly defined above) to choose what is true, good, and beautiful. Not just anything we want.
Tip o' the hat to OSV Daily Take.

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