As he should. He is completely correct, and in writing clearly and directly about these vital matters, he is simply being a good bishop and pastor. Granted, truth and Church authority aren’t too popular, so it’s no surprise that his October 19th letter, “Catholic citizenship” (see my previous CWR post), ruffled the feathers of some who don’t seem to understand what is really involved in being a serious Catholic and a responsible citizen.
Bishop David D. Kagan of Bismarck defended his letter on the election which was read this weekend at parishes in North Dakota, against demands by a state senator that it be withdrawn or changed.
“It’s with a properly formed conscience, which we regularly nourish with prayer, the sacraments, and continued study, that we can…set a good example, which ultimately isn’t about you or me,” Bishop Kagan told CNA Oct. 30.
The example we set, he emphasized, presents Christ to other people. …
Bishop Kagan responded to CNA, however, that he wrote the letter out of concern for the souls of the Catholic faithful under his charge.
“There isn’t a circumstance that can ever justify you or me checking our faith at the door, and then going in and doing something that is contrary to what we say we believe.”
“It does a great disservice to other Catholics, and to those who are not Catholic, if we create one of those artificial divisions between what I believe as a Catholic and what I do as a Catholic.”
Bishop Kagan added that “conscience can be in error,” and that while there are things that are “easily recognized” by individual consciences as true or false, there are also matters “in between.”
“And that’s where the relationship between Church authority and conscience…becomes so necessary and essential, because it’s not always clear what is the Truth, and therefore what is the good.”
“So it’s that recognition that there is an authority…that can inform and properly form one’s conscience so it recognizes the Truth, and then directs the person to seek that which is true and good.”
He said the relationship between authority and conscience is a “complementary” one, and that authority and conscience are not meant to be “at odds” with one another.
“For a Catholic to properly form and inform his or her conscience, so that the truth is recognized and the good is pursued…one has to be able to look to the authentic teaching of that truth,” he offered.
Read the entire piece on the Catholic News Agency site.
• “Conscience, incoherence, and ‘spiraling intellectual implausibility'” by Carl E. Olson (Oct. 29, 2012)