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February 12, 2013


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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17 comments

Hmmm…perhaps we could take the word “the” out of context in the Bible as well - who knows what we will end up with? 

Yes, dumb, but JUST AS STUPID as the above statement. 

Itching ears…

[1] Posted by B. Hunter on 2-12-2013 at 02:40 PM · [top]

Interesting justification reasoning at work here, but doesn’t it lead to the conclusion that neither the Pope’s nor the Feminist Theologian’s views are valid?

Your conscience says tomato, mine says tomatah, let’s call the whole thing off.

At least the Pope lays his conscience before the Lord for examination.

[2] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 2-12-2013 at 03:03 PM · [top]

#2, I think it goes further than that.  What the Pope does not suggest (and in fact we know from his other writings that he does not believe) is that his conscience would be relevant if this were a matter of received doctrine.

This is where Mary Hunt makes a profound error of logic - she reads the Pope making a decision based on conscience and therefore wrongly decides that he is agreeing that every decision on earth is SOLELY a matter for conscience.  We should not make the same mistake as her.

There is nothing in the Scriptures, the Church Councils or (for Roman Catholics) the RC Church Catechism that says when a Pope should retire.  Therefore Pope BXVI is correct to examine his conscience before God to decide when he should retire.  He is not thereby attacking the primacy of Scripture and other lesser but important sources of authority for Christians.

[3] Posted by MichaelA on 2-12-2013 at 04:40 PM · [top]

The key is he said his “conscience before God.  Conscience cannot contradict God’s law.  Hunt doesn’t recognize God’s law.  We knew that; “feminist theologian” is a giveaway.

[4] Posted by Katherine on 2-12-2013 at 06:02 PM · [top]

Episcopagans begin speculating how the coming new pope will drive thousands and thousands of practicing Roman Catholics to the Episcopagan sect in 3…2….1…

[5] Posted by midwestnorwegian on 2-12-2013 at 06:11 PM · [top]

Catholic canon law specifically provides for papal resignation. The pope was, therefore exercising his conscience on a matter of prudence.  The decision to sin is, by definition, imprudent.

[6] Posted by Words Matter on 2-12-2013 at 06:35 PM · [top]

Well, it frosts me to realize that Miss Mary E. Hunt Pee-aych. Dee. gets paid a whole lotta cash to be this stupid in public.  Otherwise I just role my eyes.

[7] Posted by Nikolaus on 2-12-2013 at 07:02 PM · [top]

Watch out, continuing ‘Piskies, Mary Hunt has just laid claim to the Chair of Katharine.

[8] Posted by Fr. Chip, SF on 2-12-2013 at 07:10 PM · [top]

“He gets to use the word conscience so I should get to use my conscience, too”

Umm, this is the kind of thinking I expect since I work at an outreach center that caters to kids who come from mostly dysfunctional and broken families. From somebody with an alleged PhD, not so much.

[9] Posted by Stefano on 2-12-2013 at 08:34 PM · [top]

I wish there were a way to keep people from calling themselves Catholic when they aren’t, but there really isn’t.  The bishop of Kansas City told the National Catholic Reporter to stop calling themselves Catholic and they basically said, “Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, you can’t stop us.” 

What drivel.

Susan Peterson

[10] Posted by eulogos on 2-12-2013 at 10:46 PM · [top]

‘Mary E. Hunt, Ph.D., is a feminist theologian.” Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a feminist theologian also. She is on the TEC list of ‘Holy Women-Holy Men’ The problem is that feminist theology is not necessarily Christian. Cady Stanton was an atheist.

[11] Posted by Fr. Dale on 2-13-2013 at 08:03 AM · [top]

I LOVE the choice of “PMS”, especially in this case. smile

[12] Posted by Newbie Anglican on 2-13-2013 at 08:23 AM · [top]

This daily feature should be fun - if I don’t have a stroke reading it! Yes, there’s going to be a lot of drivel spouted during this period between popes. The left hates Benedict, of course, and surely doesn’t want to see another like him. All the “feminist theologian,” “pro-choice Catholics,” etc., are going to be holding forth with all kinds of garbage. This dumb “conscience” reasoning by Hunt is a prime example of how little intelligence and logic have to do with these peoples’ reasoning. They tailor their arguments to fit their views, regardless of how theologically sound said arguments are.This reminds me of one of my annual battles on our Endowment Committee to prevent our church from matching parishioners’ gifts to Planned Parenthood. Last year I presented samples of stuff PP uses in its “education” program in the schools, including a book called “It’s Perfectly Normal.” I had to make copies at Office Max because my scanner was down - and I was embarrassed to ask for help when the machine had a problem because I was afraid the clerk would think I was a pervert! When I showed this trash to the committee, one woman said, “Well, the kids see worse than that on the internet.” Well then, let’s just give them subscriptions to Playboy for Christmas! Yes, we should be hearing lots of fun stuff during this period of papal selection!

[13] Posted by Nellie on 2-13-2013 at 10:27 AM · [top]

Here is Newman on the difference between the Catholic and popular meaning of the word “conscience”:

“...now let us see what is the notion of conscience in this day in the popular mind.  There, no more than in the intellectual world, does “conscience” retain the old, true, Catholic meaning of the word. There too the idea, the presence of a Moral Governor is far away from the use of it, frequent and emphatic as that use of it is. When men advocate the rights of conscience, they in no sense mean the rights of the Creator, nor the duty to Him, in thought and deed, of the creature; but the right of thinking, speaking, writing, and acting, according to their judgment or their humour, without any thought of God at all. They do not even pretend to go by any moral rule, but they demand, what they think is an Englishman’s prerogative, for each to be his own master in all things, and to profess what he pleases, asking no one’s leave, and accounting priest or preacher, speaker or writer, unutterably impertinent, who dares to say a word against his going to perdition, if he like it, in his own way. Conscience has rights because it has duties; but in this age, with a large portion of the public, it is the very right and freedom of conscience to dispense with conscience, to ignore a Lawgiver and Judge, to be independent of unseen obligations. It becomes a licence to take up any or no religion, to take up this or that and let it go again, to go to church, to go to chapel, to boast of being above all religions and to be an impartial critic of each of them. Conscience is a stern monitor, but in this century it has been superseded by a counterfeit, which the eighteen centuries prior to it never heard of, and could not have mistaken for it, if they had. It is the right of self-will.”

[14] Posted by rick allen on 2-13-2013 at 02:03 PM · [top]

Thanks, Newbie. I put a lot of thought into what to call this.  red face

[15] Posted by David Fischler on 2-13-2013 at 03:57 PM · [top]

Thanks #14…right on.

[16] Posted by aacswfl1 on 2-13-2013 at 04:12 PM · [top]

I think Rick Allen deserves credit for that Newman quote which neatly answers the Hunt PMS blather. Well done, sir!

[17] Posted by Stefano on 2-13-2013 at 04:18 PM · [top]

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