Conscience vs. Obedience

Click here to read: “Conscience vs. obedience: The case against Monsignor Lynn,” by Maryclaire Dale, Associated Press,, June 24, 2012

“The Catholic church hierarchy certainly thinks there’s too much discussion in the U.S. about conscience, that people use it to justify any kind of proclivity,” said Mathew Schmalz, a religious studies professor at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. “But in this case, there are some really deep issues about when do you stand up to the actions of those superiors.”

14 thoughts on “Conscience vs. Obedience

  1. With a comment like that from the highest reaches of Catholic colleges, is it any wonder that “turn the other cheek” has turned to turn away from responsibile ehtics and responsibility to “the least of these?”


    1. The final lines of the article..conscience vs obedience…

      “.A spokesman for Voice of the Faithful, a Boston-based group formed in the wake of the abuse crisis to try to empower lay Catholics, said it was “obvious that here’s this one man sitting (on trial) when there should be scores of people sitting there.”

      “The moral call to stand when you’re guilty and confess seems to have been abrogated by those in power. It was, ‘I’m just following orders,'” Voice of the Faithful spokesman Nick Ingala said. “The organization that claims to be the moral authority in the world has given up.”

      AND THAT’s THE POINT…the Church no longer has ‘street cred’….Its a total failure as a ‘moral authority’…and that’s NOT news.

      The reason I think Philly is so important….is that beginning with Lynn and moving onward in terms of further convictions of Church ‘management’ ….we may see a disgraced and convicted church begin to mend its ways….I fervently hope so. I think it’s the only way to restore its credibility.

  2. Just finished reading the same piece that was also in the Washington Post. I thought Maryclaire Dale did an excellent job at summarizing the major events involving the shredding of the list of abusive priests as well as pointing toward the involvement of Krol, Bevilacqua, Mulloy, Cullen and Cistone, the latter two, being both still alive, should, in my opinion, have been on trial with Lynn.

    Thank you Fr Chris Walsh for your comments for this piece.
    Thank you Maryclaire. Glad this well written piece is getting national circulation.

  3. Today at Mass we had a visiting priest from “Food for the Poor”, an organization to help the suffering poor in Latin America. –

    How in good conscience could the AD, Felon Lynn & the rest of the gang not just ‘fess up, end the trial and use some of the 11 million to help all the poor and suffering??

  4. Obedience to religious superiors?

    This is Philly, not Jonestown. Obedience to RC clerics should be as dead as the Rev. Jim Jones, and the People’s Temple!

  5. Thank you, SW… your presence here, along with other survivors and their family members, has kept us all focused on the real change that must happen… that victims be heard, that justice take place, that the abuse of children be prevented, and that those who harm children be held accountable with no SOL wscape clause. Thank you for your precence… my prayers for you, your husband, and your family in the future.

  6. On June 12, John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) conducted an exclusive interview with Cardinal William Lavada, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The interview centered on the dispute between the Vatican and LCWR nuns. The interview, verbatim, was published by NCR on June 15. In the published version, John Allen asks Lavada specific questions, and Lavada answers them.

    The final question asked by John Allen was: “Is there any other point you would like to make?” When an interviewer asks that question, he is asking the interviewee to address or disclose what is significant and important to him, but what failed to be addressed or disclosed due to the nature of the interviewers questions. An interviewee is always happy to get that question because there is nothing worse than participating in an interview and personally considering something significant and important, yet failing to have the opportunity to say it.

    This is how Lavada responded to the question: “I’d like to say a word about obedience. In the Church, the pope is the superior, ultimately, and obedience has been an integral part of the evangelical counsels and of religious life from the beginning.” Lavada goes on to remind LCWR nuns that they vowed to be obedient.

    Forget that, in the interview, Lavada is speaking about the LCWR nuns vs. the Vatican dispute. Focus on how– 12 days ago, in the 21st century, after we have learned how religious obedience fueled the cover up of the sex abuse crisis– Lavada speaks of obedience as though it were sacrosanct and inviolable (secure from violation, assault or trespass). Additionally, he asserts that it is Tradition.

    If anyone thinks “conscience” will be permitted in the clerical culture now, or that the hierarchy has learned anything about the dangers of “obedience,” you are flat out, 100%

    The priestly culture of obedience will mar, taint, infect and skew every effort aimed at instilling hope in Catholics and implementing reform in the Church. It has been, and always will be, the bane, the plague, and the curse of Catholic existence.

    1. Kate, Levada shows that he suffers from the cult-type incurable disease of blind obedience so pervasive among the hierarchy. He didn’t have to respond or speak to the subject of obedience. He is within very short period from retirement, hence, he had nothing to lose by saying what he really believes. This is it! The hierarchy is really scary and dangerous.

    2. The Superior One demands Obedience… What an embarrassing time to be catholic…
      It would be Monty Python-silly if it didn’t involve such serious issues…the idea of the red shoed, pointy hat-wearing, spoiled-rotten, self-important, weaselly clerics in Rome, insisting that the errant nuns obey THEM.
      Nobody’s even listening to them anymore, let alone obeying them.

      1. My apologies to everyone but crystal brought up Monty Python. The picture of Cardinal Burke wearing a galero on the following link just screams “Monty Python silly”

        To inject some seriousness, read this from Matthew 23 while you’re viewing the pic

        Verse 5 is pretty apt. There are a lot of tassels on a galero.

        Yup, crystal, it’s an embarrassing time to be catholic.

  7. Obedience delivers from two fold slavery: that of self will and that of own judgement.
    Obedience to God, to His spiritual and temporal representitives, daily assures the conformity of the will with the devine will….
    Take away the self will and there is no longer be any hell.
    In fact, St Francis said obedience even in death.
    That speaks volumes.


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