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Fr. Thomas J. Reese.

I commend the Vatican for hastening the resignation of Fr. Thomas J. Reese from his post as editor of America magazine. Reese has published articles questioning church orthodoxy on sensitive issues like contraception, stem-cell research, same-sex marriage, homosexual priests, mandatory clerical celibacy, inclusive language in the liturgy, and whether Catholic politicians who support abortion rights should be given communion. He has also questioned the Vatican for its probes of certain theologians. Often this was done in an underhanded way in which he sought to present "both sides" of the discussion.

Reese operated largely under the pretext of that form of dissent which claims the theologian is not bound to adhere to any Magisterial teaching unless it is infallible. The theologian would accordingly be totally free to raise doubts or reject the non-infallible teaching of the Magisterium, particularly in the case of specific moral norms.

However, Vatican II's Dogmatic Constitution On The Church (25) teaches that "loyal submission of the will and intellect must be given, in a special way, to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he does not speak "ex cathedra."

Pope Benedict XVI, when Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, also stated in Donum veritatis, that "The freedom proper to theological research is exercised within the Church's faith.... Argumentation appealing to the obligation to follow one s own conscience cannot legitimate dissent. This is true, first of all, because conscience illumines the practical judgment about a decision to make, while here we are concerned with the truth of a doctrinal pronouncement. This is furthermore the case because while the theologian, like every believer, must follow his conscience, he is also obliged to form it. Conscience is not an independent and infallible faculty."

This is also why the "Winnipeg Statement" (26) which was written by the Canadian Bishops [in 1968 in response to the encyclical Humanae vitae] and which permits the use of contraceptives according to one's own conscience is incorrect and needs to be changed.

Paul Kokoski

Hamilton, ON


See also News in Brief under United States, p. 29.
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Author:Kokoski, Paul
Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Jul 1, 2005
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