This blog post, by John Greenleaf actually makes me want to sing. Sing, I tell you! It makes me want to stand up like a spirited black woman in church, "Preach, Brother Greenleaf." It addresses the rights of all Catholics to think for themselves on a variety of levels, along with the appropriate support from the Catechism.
So fun, right?
Well, maybe not "fun" in the traditional sense; it's more like "Bam! Evidence to support what I thought to be true all along."
Shut up; that is definitely a kind of fun.
The post has all the Catechism stuff about "primacy of conscience": my absolute favorite part of the Catechism. Here is a link to the Catechism blabitty blah, but let me give you the Cliff Notes. In short, it means that a Catholic has the right to discern for themselves within their own heart what is right and what is wrong. The leadership of The Church can advise and preach and declare all they want, but after carefully listening to wise and respected people, and prayerful consideration, each member of the Church must decide what is right and what is wrong for themselves. Whats more we are then obligated to follow our own carefully considered consciences, regardless of what the leaders of the Church say.
Of course! Of course!
You can't just have the leadership of the Church do all your thinking for you. you can't just go along, "Well, this is what some old man in Italy says, so I better do it". That is completely cheating.
The leadership can advise, and warn and declare with all solemnity their views, but God gave us a brain so that we could use it; we each must choose our own path dependant on our situation.
And I love, LOVE how this part of our faith can be used to silence the sanctimony parade.
The sanctimony parade, which I just made up just now, is the people who march through life pointing at all the sinners. Lying? Sin! Stealing? Sin! Abortion? Drugs? Jealousy? Sin-sin-sinny-sin-sin. All they need are little flags and the whole thing becomes almost festive.
Can you imagine a God who would behave in such a way.
"Well, little person, I am a all knowing and unknowable deity that for some reason am grievously injured by your well intentioned action. Yes, you prayed, asking for my guidance, sought counsel, from respected people, read the Bible and did careful reflection. You did your best to do what you thought was the right thing, but you thought wrong, so off to Hell you go!"
If I could forgive someone who was truly well intentioned, I think that God is probably okay with it as well.
Now, I am not preaching moral relativism...exactly. Rather, what I am saying- actually what the Catechism is saying, I am not making this up, is that intention rather than the actual act itself is the cause of moral decay. From the perspective that sin is a mindset, rather than a list of do's and do not's, it becomes impossible for another to judge.
Is lying a sin? Is killing a sin? In most cases, yes, probably, but in individual cases, I don't know. What was the intention?
When you look at sin as a mindset of an individual, the meaning of "Only God can judge" becomes clear, and the sanctimony parade really becomes a bunch of pious people afraid to inspect their own hearts.
Unless, of course, after careful discernment, their hearts are telling them to march around condemning people. Then they definitely should. Everybody loves a parade.