Priests Drinking to Conscience First
I had always thought that conscience was important to Catholics: Newman famously said he would drink to the Pope but to conscience first, Aquinas, that we must follow conscience, even if leads one out of the Church.
Pope Francis, or at least the Beroglians, appear to be saying that the divorced and remarried may receive Holy Communion if they do so in good conscience, the problem is what if the priest who is expected to give them Communion feels in good conscience that he may not do so.
I heard a rather garbled account of a young priest, not a ‘Correcton’ signer, placed in this situation, after a discussion with his bishop he was led by conscience not quite out of the Church but to another diocese. it could be that this priest was tactless or harsh in how he said what he said, I don’t know.
I get the feeling that this seems to be a phenomena that is likely to grow in the Church. On social media and in clerical chat rooms those priests whose comscience tells them the Gospel and Church promotes the former ‘pastoral’ practice seem very uneasy about their ability to continue in their dioceses. It seems that in some places lay people and bishops can freely follow conscience but not priests.
The implication for priests is if you insist on following your conscience you must find a diocese where the bishop allows or tolerates such a priest with such a conscience.
In the past conscience led priests to the arena, or the gallows or concentration camp and a bishop and those involved in their formation were concerned about sharpening not blunting conscience. An ‘e-friend’ priest said recently, ‘they want us out and gone from the Church’, that is probably an over reaction but there are obviously diocese, as in Malta where the seminary gate is open, as is, presumably, the diocesan gate where other bishops have told critical Catholics to stay away from events, the implication for priests whose conscience is sensitive is frightening.
This is presumably where schism begins; ‘old’ believers are simply told to go away or are unwelcome. The problem is that ‘old’ believers are so often the young, not the men and women of the 1970s. for a diocese in Europe or the US to lose even one of its younger priests today is pretty catastrophic.