I would like to start off by saying that this may deserve to be an entirely new thread, but here goes…
I am currently having a little debate with a deacon of ours on this subject. In the RCIA class that he leads, he gave as an example of obeying one’s conscience over the Church the same example used in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Catholicism.
Catholicism for Dummies to help.]
Anyway, the example cited is one where a couple has three children when they did not want to have three children. One is given the impression that they did not want any at all. They were using the Rhythm Method, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who uses NFP instead. They decide that three is enough and start using birth control, even though they know it is against Church teaching.
My deacon thinks that there’s nothing wrong with this, while I think that there’s plenty wrong with it. This is the important part, folks: I need to focus on the use of this as a (very) bad example. It’s quite easy to delve into WHY it is a bad example, but after discussing it with the deacon in question, and asking several other Catholics in and out of the RCIA program, and writing the deacon and letter, and having a follow up discussion with the deacon, and more discussions with others in the RCIA program, I do not believe I am going to change his mind.
His defense? He said it had to be a well-formed conscience (which he did and which it must). The idea that a well-formed conscience would lead one to an abortifacient birth control pill is completely loonie, aside from the moral problems realting to other forms of birth control. He has not said outright that birth control is OK, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on that one. The inquirers of the RCIA class, I believe, may have received a different notion.
What I aim to do for the benefit of the class is give to the Deacon a better example of how one’s conscience might outweigh what the Church teaches, or more precisely, what one hear’s a Church authority figure saying that the Church teaches.
If I am not satisfied after this, I have no problem chasing this issue to the pastor, bishop and the Vatican if I must.
So, that’s what I’m looking for – a good example. Some of Joan of Arc’s decisions certainly come to mind. Any others? Concrete historical examples may be best, since there’s no wiggle room, but I’ll take a theoretical one also.