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Letters & Op-Eds - 2008

guardian (UK)

Conscience should not make cowards of Catholic MPs

Jon O'Brien

27 March 2008

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor is right to remind us that "the truth will make you free" (Comment, March 24). In this spirit, it is worth remembering that the truth about Catholic teachings on conscience is more nuanced than is generally believed. Catholic teaching about the primacy of conscience holds that the individual must follow his or her conscience - even if it is in conflict with church teaching. Catholic teaching on conscience goes further and requires at least tolerance, if not respect, for another person's decision. Despite pressure from the cardinal, Catholic parliamentarians should feel free to follow their own consciences and support policies that allow all people to make informed, conscientious decisions about their lives and their families.

This letter originally appeared in the 27 March 2008 edition of the Guardian.