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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Conscience

Slim pickings at the moment when it comes to the blog. I have been engaged in a writing project which has been on the back burner for some time, so that took me away from my regular interventions here. There are more projects waiting to be finished also, so it may be slim pickings for a while yet. That and parish work keeps me busy.

I have been keeping up with developments in recent weeks and a lot has happened. In recent days one piece in particular interested me and I would like to share a few reflections with you. It was an article Edward Peters, the canon lawyer, wrote on his blog concerning priests and conscience. In the piece he reminded us all that priests have consciences too, and these consciences must be respected. As I read the piece I was thrilled to see that someone is looking at things from a priest's perspective and defending us. 

To be honest, as a priest I have to say the last number of years have been difficult. We have been on the receiving end of a lot of abuse, mired in controversy, dragged through the media. Pope Benedict tried to ease the stress by the Year of the Priest, a year dedicated to help us renew, but the scandals destroyed that. Pope Francis's tirades against us haven't helped either. Talking with brother priests I see the morale is very very low, in fact I have never seen it as low as it is, and this has me worried. Most priests are hard working men who do their best, but get little support. Some laity and bishops are very good, but there is an attitude in the Church which regards priests as functionaries and we are expected to just get on with it. Dr Peters's article is welcome because it does not treat us as functionaries, but as members of the Church. You can read his piece here, if you haven't already read it.

This is the crucial bit:  "Many clerics, Deo gratias, and other ministers of the Eucharist, recognize the significance of their sacramental office and know—as all Catholics should know—that their actions, too, are carried out before a God who sees all".  In conscience a priest cannot do what is wrong, regardless of who asks him be it divorced and remarried Catholics, bishops, brides looking for the perfect wedding, grieving families organising a funeral. A priest has to be faithful to God, Church teaching and the laws of the liturgy; if he is not, then he sins. 

Too often as a priest I have been asked to break the rules of the Church for people; they ask it as a favour, or to keep the bride happy on her big day, or as a gesture of compassion towards a grieving family. What does a priest do? Do I do what I know in my conscience to be wrong to keep people happy? I have been told other priests do it, but should that be the measure of my moral observance - if others are doing it, then it is okay? Speaking with those who make such demands I gently remind them that such things are not possible: I cannot do it because I know it to be wrong. But they have no concern for the state of my soul; they want it, demand it and I must conform if I am a "Christian". When I tell them I would be committing a sin if I did it, they make little of it; it is not important. My right to follow my conscience must fall to their desires.

I remember in a few cases, for example, explaining to bereaved families why eulogies are not permitted in our diocese - our bishop does not allow them. In each case I have been asked to make an exception for them - so I put it in context for them: "Are you asking me to be disobedient to my bishop?" The answer is usually "Yes" but expressed in that round-about way only the Irish have mastered. Refusal on my part is usually interpreted on their part as a lack of compassion, a betrayal of Christ's values of being nice and conciliatory. 

Priests have consciences too. If a priest does something that he knows is wrong or not permitted by the Church then he sins. Am I as priest expected to bear the burden of such sinning when I, like every other Christian, have enough sin to deal with in my personal life? Am I just a functionary? Some say that if the bishop permits it then it is okay. That is true if the bishop has the competence to dispense. However in some areas, like communion for the divorced and remarried (since it is being discussed now), a bishop cannot dispense from the moral law of God; then no, not even the orders of a bishop can compel a priest to "give in". I know of one case, for example, where a bishop ordered a priest to give communion to a married woman living very publicly in a second relationship. The priest rightly resisted and suffered for it. The bishop thought that the priest's conscience could be set aside with an episcopal decree.

Not so. If I, in conscience, know something is wrong or not permitted, then I must remain true to my conscience regardless of what others think or do. As a Christian I must be permitted to follow my conscience, just because I am priest does not mean that I can put it in a box and forget about it when performing my priestly duties or celebrating the liturgy. Some may say that some of these issues are small things, they do not really register on the radar; however, Christ himself said that he who is faithful in small things can be trusted with great. The small things do matter, even more so than the great because, for most of us, our lives are usually measured in small things. Few of us rarely have to face major moral problems, but we do face the small ones every day, and our conscience is not a faculty given to be taken out for the big events of one's life, it is a constant companion that is meant to keep us on the right road, and on the right side of the road. 

So thanks to Dr Peters for his piece; it is most welcome.

10 comments:

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    1. POWERFUL SPELL CASTER THAT BROUGHT MY EX HUSBAND BACK INTO MY LIFE AFTER HE LEFT ME EMAIL HIM VIA EMAIL INFINITYLOVESPELL@GMAIL.COM OR INFINITYLOVESPELL@YAHOO.COM ADD HIM ON WHATSAPP +2348118829899

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      Hello my name is Jenna i want to share my amazing experience with the greatest spell caster Priest Ade my husband was cheating on me and when i found out we had a fight which lead to him filling for a divorce i cried and fell sick when i was searching about love quotes online i saw people talking about him and his great work whose case was similar to mine they left his contact info i contacted him and he told me not to worry that after 24hrs he will cancel the divorce and be back to me after i did everything he asked me to do to my greatest surprise the next day evening it was my husband he knelt down begging me to accept him back,thank you once again Priest Ade you are indeed a blessing to me he can also help you contact
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      Hello my name is Jenna i want to share my amazing experience with the greatest spell caster Priest Ade my husband was cheating on me and when i found out we had a fight which lead to him filling for a divorce i cried and fell sick when i was searching about love quotes online i saw people talking about him and his great work whose case was similar to mine they left his contact info i contacted him and he told me not to worry that after 24hrs he will cancel the divorce and be back to me after i did everything he asked me to do to my greatest surprise the next day evening it was my husband he knelt down begging me to accept him back,thank you once again Priest Ade you are indeed a blessing to me he can also help you contact
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      https://ancientspiritspellcast12.wordpress.com

      Blog: http://ancientspiritspell.blogspot.com

      Website http://ancientspiritspellcast.website2.me

      WhatsApp +2347059715465 .

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    Hi everyone am AMBER ERIN, I do hope my post gets read and hopefully helps somebody along the line.i will never forget the help the wonderful spell caster Dr Larry render to me in my marital life. i have been married for 4 years now and my husband and i love each other very dearly . after 4 years of our marriage my husband suddenly change he was having an affair with a lady outside, i notice it then i was praying for divine intervention but nothing happen. my husband just came home one day he pick up his things and left me and the kids to his mistress house.. At this time i was confuse not knowing what to do. i was so depressed and had to tell a friend who told me how a spiritualist helped her out with her marital problems so i contacted him and i told him my problem and after he made some consultations he told me what went wrong with my husband and how it happened, that he will restore my marriage but i never believe him. To my greatest surprise 3 days after he has cast the spell my husband came to my office begging me on his knees that i should find a place in my heart to forgive him that he is very sorry for everything he has done to me and the kids .... now am happy we living happily with my husband and kids...thanks to the help of the great Spiritualist Dr Larry, contact him with any problem and am sure he will help email assurancesolutionhome@gmail.com website https://assurancesolutionhome.blogspot.com http://assurancesolutionhome.website2.me/ whatsapp him on +1(424)-261-8520

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  3. DON,T IGNORE THIS WHAT AM ABOUT TO WRITE IS 100% REAL LIFE STORY THIS IS HOW I GOT MY HUSBAND BACK HOME TO ME WITH THE HELP OF A REAL AND GENUINE SPELL CASTER DR PETER CALL/WHATSAPP +1(321)754-0649

    Hello Everyone my name is jaxson melanie from USA. I got married ten years ago to a loving husband we had two kids. We had the best home until my husband started behaving awkwardly. it was then i discovered that he was seeing another woman. our marriage moved from bad to worse until he eventually left the home living me with the kids. He took away my home and happiness. i had lived with sorrow, rejection and pain ever since then. on till a friend of my Linda told me about DR. PETER who helped her when she had same problems with her husband. she told me he could solve all marital and health problems. we contacted him and i narrated my story to him. so he promised to help me do a love spell to help me get him back home to me. so after 24hours he was done with the spell and my husband called me on and told me that he is very sorry for all he has done to me. now my husband is back home to me permanently. all thanks to DR. PETER who gave me back my home and happiness. You can also contact him for your marital and health problem contact DR. PETER through his email address:
    MAGNIFICENTSPELLCAST@GMAIL.COM
    MAGNIFICENTSPELLCAST@YAHOO.COM or call/whatsapp him via +1(321)754-0649 website http://MAGNIFICENTSPELLCAST.website2.me or blog http://magnificentspellcast11.blogspot.com
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