No, wait, that's not it.
"I am a pro-spousal abuse Catholic because my Catholic faith tells me I can be."
Uh, hold on.
"I am a pro-murder Catholic because my Catholic faith tells me I can be."
Ugh. Sorry, there must be a technical glitch here. One second.
Oh, here it is:
Yeah, that's from a piece in the good ol' National "Catholic" Reporter titled, "I am a prochoice Catholic," penned by Kate Childs Graham. Graham was once, she writes, opposed to abortion, but then she had a conversion experience on the road to, uh, somewhere:
And thus started my process of discernment around the right to abortion. It took several years. I asked friends on both sides of the issue thousands of questions. I read book after book. I prayed. I studied what the church hierarchy had to say about the issue. I studied what the Catholic church -- the faithful -- had to say about the issue.
The conscience, you see, is the Greatest Thing Ever, even greater than God, truth, good, and evil. No, seriously: if you follow Graham's argument to its logical end, that's what she is implying. She knows the Church clearly and consistently condemns abortion and yet she insists her "well-informed conscience" (!) has primacy over said teaching. Making matters worse, she provides a very selective and misleading excerpt from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which is drawn from Gaudium et Spes. The larger context is, of course, helpful:
The Catechism says of abortion: "Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law" (par 2271). Since the passage from Gaudium et Spes states that the rightly formed conscience summons man "to love good and avoid evil" and "to be guided by the objective norms of morality," it cannot lead a truly informed person to say in good conscience: "I am a prochoice Catholic because my Catholic faith tells me I
Pope John Paul II, in Evangelium Vitae, reflected on how our consciences can be warped and turned away from truth:
But today, in many people's consciences, the perception of its gravity has become progressively obscured. The acceptance of abortion in the popular mind, in behaviour and even in law itself, is a telling sign of an extremely dangerous crisis of the moral sense, which is becoming more and more incapable of distinguishing between good and evil, even when the fundamental right to life is at stake. Given such a grave situation, we need now more than ever to have the courage to look the truth in the eye and to call things by their proper name, without yielding to convenient compromises or to the temptation of self-deception. In this regard the reproach of the Prophet is extremely straightforward: "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness" (Is 5:20). Especially in the case of abortion there is a widespread use of ambiguous terminology, such as "interruption of pregnancy", which tends to hide abortion's true nature and to attenuate its seriousness in public opinion. Perhaps this linguistic phenomenon is itself a symptom of an uneasiness of conscience. But no word has the power to change the reality of things: procured abortion is the deliberate and direct killing, by whatever means it is carried out, of a human being in the initial phase of his or her existence, extending from conception to birth. (par 58)
That's heavy stuff. And it is backed up by the Catechism, which doesn't uphold the skewed notion of "the primacy of conscience":
Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one's passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church's authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct.
If - on the contrary - the ignorance is invincible, or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous
judgment, the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience.
A good and pure conscience is enlightened by true faith, for charity proceeds at the same time "from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith." (pars 1792-94; emphasis added)
Joseph Ratzinger has written quite a bit on conscience, including the book, On Conscience. In that work he remarks:
Why this obvious truth is not obvious is, well, not obvious to me. Dr. Ed Peters (who first brought the column to my attention), writes of Graham's column:
Definitely read his entire post on the "In the Light of the Law" blog.
• "Our personal conscience is supreme" (Feb. 7, 2007)
• The Truth About Conscience | John F. Kippley
• Happiness and the Heart | Fr. Robert J. Spitzer
• Conscience and Chaos | Dr. James Hitchcock
• The Illusion of Freedom Separated from Moral Virtue | Raymond L. Dennehy
• Our Enslavement to "Freedom" | Dr. James Hitchcock