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Catholics for a Free Choice Statement on Pope Benedict XVI’s Post-Synodal Exhortation on the Eucharist: Sacramentum Caritatis–The Sacrament of Love

March 14, 2007

Pope Benedict reveals that little has changed in Vatican thought as regards sexuality and human relationships.

Washington, DC—Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for a Free Choice, issued the following statement:

“Sadly, it is clear that the Vatican has chosen not to move with the times, continuing to stigmatize gay couples, the divorced and those who support women’s reproductive rights. While some church teachings have changed over time—one thinks especially of its positions on slavery and the sun being at the center of the universe—faithful Catholics have always been willing to act on their conscience. This papal exhortation will not stop this process, but serves merely to further sideline some sections of society.

“Hidden among all the brouhaha that so often comes along with every papal announcement is a key phrase that many conservative Catholics ignore: Catholic politicians, legislators and laity must act ‘on the basis of a properly formed conscience.’ This is the real non-negotiable of Catholic teachings.

“While this document may give support to the small minority of U.S. bishops who have chosen to use communion as a weapon against politicians they disagree with, the majority will continue to support the long-standing Catholic principles of political freedom and freedom of conscience. Bishops and priests have little to gain in attacking Catholic candidates and voters and they know it.

“Despite some commentary to the contrary, this document is hardly binding. It comes below apostolic constitutions, encyclical letters and encyclical epistles in the pecking order of papal authority, and we know that no pope has made the teachings on abortion infallible. In fact, bishops can and regularly do reject Vatican pronouncements on how they should act in their dioceses. Catholics expect their policymakers to follow their conscience and will continue to do so in the future.”

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