Writer misunderstands ‘primacy of conscience’
A recent letter badly misrepresents the Catholic Church’s “primacy of conscience” principle. The writer uses a partial quote of the Vatican II writings of then Father Joseph Ratzinger to suggest that an erroneous conscience, while formed in ignorance of or defiance of the moral law written by God on the heart of each individual, trumps the infallible proclamations of the church whose founder, Jesus Christ, said, “He who hears you, hears me.”
To think that one’s own perception of right and wrong, based on nothing more than depth and sincerity of emotion and feelings, is sheer folly. It imposes a personal, relativistic opinion and denies that there is objective truth, the foundation of the natural and moral law. When the individual conscience arrives at a different conclusion from that of the infallibly defined doctrines and dogmas of Catholic teaching, the person acting on his/her convictions has the right to be wrong, but is nevertheless responsible for failing to listen and assent to the promptings of that God-given individual sense to seek and discover the eternal verities that the church proclaims.
Despite the sincere hopes and wishes of the proponents of women’s ordination, it has been declared as part of church teaching that must be believed, that priestly ordination is reserved to men.