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Column bends church teachings

IN "KERRY'S Catholicism," James Carroll decries "people who have twisted religion" in pointing out the contradictions between Senator Kerry's Catholic faith and his public policy positions. But it is Carroll who is doing the twisting, not Kerry's opponents.

Carroll appeals to "the primacy of conscience" that Vatican II emphasized, but nowhere did Vatican II say that a Catholic's conscience can lead him or her to support abortion or fetal stem cell research. The church has always insisted on a well-informed conscience, grounded in its moral teachings, being employed to make moral decisions. Vatican II, contrary to Carroll's perception, did or said nothing to change that.

Plus, nowhere did Vatican II teach that "theology is not a fixed set of answers given once and for all by an all-knowing hierarchy." Rather, it reaffirmed the primacy of the pope and the bishops in union with him when making pronouncements on grave matters of faith and morals. For Carroll to stick up for Kerry is fine, but bashing and bending Catholic teachings beyond recognition is out of bounds.

Asahikawa, Japan

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