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Redefining Catholicism

the old primacy-of-conscience trick

Received: 09May2006

The Joint Statement

On 09May06 fifty-five Catholic Members of the Congress of Massachusetts issue a joint statement setting down their beliefs on how religion plays a role in their public life which states in part:

  • 1. we seek the church’s guidance on moral issues but maintain that we abide by “primacy of conscience”;
  • 2. "we accept the tension that comes with not agreeing with the institutional church on some issues but believe we can speak to the fundamental issues that unite us as Catholics and lend our voices to changing the political debate that often fails to reflect and encompass the depth and complexity of these issues;"
  • 3. "we are committed to making real the basic principles that are at the heart of Catholic social teaching: helping the poor and disadvantaged, protecting the most vulnerable among us, and ensuring that all Americans of every faith are given the meaningful opportunities to share in the blessings of this great country;"
  • 4. "we believe that separation of church and state allows for our faith to inform our public duties."


  • 1. No pope is going to tell us how to think.
  • 2. I mean, what does he know about the real world.
  • 3. Is that spread thick enough for you?
  • 4. Instead, you should believe that religion plays no part in making laws.