Catholics Debate Primacy Of Conscience Over Church Teachings

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Is it more important for Catholics to follow
their consciences, or church teachings?

Many Catholic politicians feel free to ignore church teachings on abortion, gay marriage and other issues.

At a congressional hearing this week, Jon O'Brien, president of
Catholics for Choice, testified that most American Catholic women
ignore the church's ban on birth control, and are right to do so because they believe it's right even if the Vatican says it's

O'Brien, whose group also promotes abortion rights, said obeying
church teachings instead of one's conscience would be a mortal sin.

But Congressman Tim Murphy angrily rejected that view. The
Pennsylvania Republican said, "It is not our duty as Catholics to tell God what He should do." Instead, he said, "It is up to us to shape our conscience to conform with the teachings He's given us."

Murphy said that when Moses came down from Mt. Sinai with the Ten Commandments, he didn't say "What do you think, folks?"

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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