Inquirer columnist Asuncion David Maramba has her commentary “Toast to Conscience” (Dec 28). She speaks about the primacy of conscience. She says Cardinal John Henry Newman said, “If I’m obliged to bring religion into after-dinner toasts …. I shall drink to conscience first, and to the Pope afterwards.” She says conscience is “the voice that whispers what’s right, what’s wrong; …. No longer can any institution’s prescribed conscience substitute itself for the individual conscience.” Then her conclusion: “What a far cry from some popes who reportedly worked to diminish conscience in favor of absolute claims for the Magisterium.”
And of course conscience has been a mantra for the pro-RH forces. Even a “conscience vote” was spoken of by both sides. And how often do we hear Catholics say, “My conscience is clear,” even when committing obvious sin?
Conscience of course is of prime importance. But it has to be a FORMED conscience. It is not just one’s opinion about what is right or wrong. It should be in accordance with the dictates of Christ. But since there are now many dissident theologians and clerics confusing and leading the faithful astray, it has to be a FORMED conscience ACCORDING TO THE MAGISTERIUM OF THE CHURCH. The Church is the very body of Christ on earth, and her pastors are the very shepherds appointed by Jesus to guard and lead the flock.
When the Church affirms that contraception is intrinsically evil, then it is, no matter what my individual conscience tells me. Otherwise you would have a situation as we do have right now, where many Catholics contracept, abort, divorce, etc., and merrily go on to receive Communion without any qualm (if they still go to Church).
This is where bishops and clerics need to speak out clearly, plainly and with conviction. They need to educate the flock. They cannot stay silent when dissident theologians, priests, nuns, laypeople, politicians and constitutionalists proclaim what is wrong. When Senator Santiago pompously lectures on RH, citing her Maryhill theology, impressing many impressionable Catholics, do the bishops issue a correction? When Fr Bernas gives aid and comfort to the enemy, is he reprimanded?
Here I commend Abp Soc Villegas, who issued the CBCP Pastoral Letter of Dec 15 entitled “Contraception is Corruption!” In 3 words he struck at the heart of the matter. It shattered the pretensions of PNoy’s daang matuwid.
Ms Maramba ends her commentary thus: “The pupil is growing up. Even in the seas of our devout, tame masses, pockets of educated, disenchanted faithful may one day say ‘panahon na,’ it’s time. Welcome to the beginnings of critical mass.” We welcome the pupil growing up. We welcome the faithful being educated and devout and not just tame. But what Ms Maramba actually says is ominous. We indeed are losing the flock to the culture of death. We are losing our youth in Catholic schools that have become liberal, with pro-RH professors. We are losing our future priests with liberal seminaries and dissident theologians.
We lose by default, unless our pastors speak out in a strong and clear voice.
God bless the Philippines!