Irish Archbishops challenged on claims of conscience about abortion

Archbishops are absolutely wrong about conscience

The Irish Times
27 December, 2012

Desmond M. Clarke

OPINION: Catholic bishops who attribute an absolute value to conscience are trying to force others to accept their position on abortion.

The Catholic archbishops of Armagh, Dublin, Cashel and Emly, and Tuam released a public statement on December 18th that included this general principle: “No one has the right to force or coerce someone to act against their conscience. Respect for this right is the very foundation of a free, civilised and democratic society.”

I do not think they believe that. Nor do I.

Conscience could mean many things but it is usually understood as referring to the judgment of an individual about significant moral and religious matters. Unfortunately it is possible for someone to decide in “their conscience” that politically-motivated murder is acceptable in some circumstances, and the archbishops presumably do not mean the conscience of a murderer obliges a democratic state not to interfere in their behaviour, no matter how well-intentioned it may be. . . [Read on]