John Kerry, theologian

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles ) | Apr 06, 2004

After attending Palm Sunday services at an AME church in Boston (it's so hard to find a Catholic church in that city!), John Kerry instructed the New York Times on his moral responsibilities as a Catholic legislator:

My oath privately between me and God was defined in the Catholic church by Pius XXIII and Pope Paul VI in the Vatican II, which allows for freedom of conscience for Catholics with respect to these choices, and that is exactly where I am.

It's hard to say exactly what "oath" he's talking about. Maybe Pope Pius XXIII will explain.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: - Apr. 10, 2004 12:40 AM ET USA

    Did he really say Pius XXIII? Or is that a typo? I thought there were only twelve Pius's.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 07, 2004 8:29 PM ET USA

    I don't remeber who said this but,"The most serious sin today is not abortion etc.It is the loss of the SENSE OF SIN"

  • Posted by: - Apr. 07, 2004 8:36 AM ET USA

    The priests of the 60s & 70s didn't modify 'conscience' with 'properly formed' when they told people conscience was paramount in making decisions. That so many now have dead consciences is in part their fault. Kerry's an idiot on so many levels; he actually allowed himself to be photographed receiving grape juice at the AME church, saying the minister invited him. I wonder if 'catholic' Kerry even realized the enormity of his action, much less how he shot his own Catholic foot in doing so

  • Posted by: - Apr. 06, 2004 5:10 PM ET USA

    The truly sad aspect of this is that there are probably many American Catholics, like Kerry, that believe that VCII gave them carte blanche to a new “freedom of conscience,” a freedom which allows them to choose which Church doctrines and disciplines to adhere to. “Some going astray from these things (charity, pure heart, good conscience, faith unfeigned) have turned aside to vain babbling… they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.” 1 Tim: 1, 6-7

  • Posted by: - Apr. 06, 2004 2:28 PM ET USA

    I believe that the phrase Msgr Bill Smith uses is a "dead conscience".

  • Posted by: Brad - Apr. 06, 2004 12:47 PM ET USA

    He's taken freedom of conscience to a new level - no conscience! Ignoring your conscience is not a sufficient excuse for promoting the murder of the innocent. Being steeped in sin dulls your conscience but it does not eliminate it - if one takes a time to think, reflect, and mediate, he or she will indeed understand that their own conscience will point them in the direction of good. This man must be dangerously close to anathema.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 06, 2004 12:29 PM ET USA

    And I imagine that Kerry added, "Pope John Paul XII told me on my ad libidinal visit to Rome that Catholics can fulfill their Mass obligation at any church so long as the word 'Episcopal' is a part of the church's name." This is our Catholic candidate for President, the best we've got to offer. Well, at least the minister of the church wasn't afraid to take a political position, introducing Kerry as the "next President." Just wish all Catholic priests might talk about pro-life someday.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 06, 2004 11:31 AM ET USA

    Kerry would be better off just ignoring the Church. His attempts to outmaneuver it are laughable and will be seen for what they are by the electorate. I really don' t think there is anti-Catholic sentiment of the sort Kerry hopes to use out there--at least anywhere beyond the base which will vote for him anyway. His attempts to flout the Church and challenge it profanely are going to leave him looking like a fool, and worse yet as a Son of McGovern.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 06, 2004 11:29 AM ET USA

    His idea of freedom of conscience is certainly different than John Henry Cardinal Newman's and Pope John Paul II's. Perhaps he can point us to the encyclical or Papal Bull that he is referring to. Veritatis Splendor may have something to say about it as well.