PMS 1: My Conscience Says Let the Good Times Roll
Today marks the start of a new temporary daily feature here at Stand Firm. I’m calling it Papal Malarkey Syndrome (PMS for short), named in honor of that famous pseudo-Catholic Joe Biden, who apparently thinks he coined the middle word. This feature will be dedicated to the silly, uninformed, bizarre, and downright dopey things that will be said about the papacy, Benedict XVI, his successor, and the Roman Catholic Church in general over the next several weeks leading up to and including the conclave that will name the next Pope.
The first victim of PMS is Mary E. Hunt, whose brief bio declares:
Mary E. Hunt, Ph.D., is a feminist theologian who is co-founder and co-director of the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER) in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA. A Roman Catholic active in the women-church movement, she lectures and writes on theology and ethics with particular attention to liberation issues.
In other words, she’s a pseudo-Catholic whose real religion is feminist ideology, and who devoutly desires a Catholic Church that looks exactly like Episcopalianism. Writing at Religion Dispatches, she latches on to one sentence in Pope Benedict’s resignation announcement, and uses it to justify every liberal Catholic’s dreams:
But before looking for the backstory there’s something in Benedict’s resignation statement that bears noting: “After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.”
Conscience, Benedict reminds us today, is still primary for Catholics. Examination of conscience: that is just the formula millions of us use to explain why we use birth control, enjoy our sexuality in a variety of ways, and see enormous good in other religious traditions. Conscience is the ultimate arbiter, and the Pope relied on his. Good on him, and good on the rest of us.
There has been a lot of fudging on the matter of conscience in recent decades. The post-Vatican II hierarchy has claimed that conscience is primary if, and only if, it is informed as they see fit. But Pope Benedict XVI is giving conscience a new lease on life. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander—the appeal to conscience cannot be denied now that the Pope himself has had recourse to it.
So, because the pope consulted his conscience to seek to discern God’s will for whether he should remain in office, Hunt thinks that means that Catholics who want to throw over Church teaching on contraception and homosexuality, and embrace relativistic religious pluralism, need only consult their “conscience” in order to obtain the necessary license. Quick, easy, guilt-free, and sanctioned by the Pope himself!
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