I have also always had absolute respect for the

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I have also always had absolute respect for the difference between the doctrinal truths of the faith, made knowable through revelation alone, and those truths which are arrived at by reason and which involve philosophical reflection informed by natural law and in engagement with other sources of human knowledge. So, with regard to all the doctrinal teachings that belong within the deposit of faith entrusted to the Church, my theological position is absolutely orthodox. Where I question some of the Church’s teachings, this is always to do with moral and social questions, informed by reason and natural law, which according to Catholic tradition must be argued in such a way that Catholics are able to enter into dialogue and debate with non-Catholics on questions of shared concern and practice. I may have made many errors in the things I have written and said, but that is a risk that must be taken by anybody who engages in intellectual debate about complex ethical issues with an informed conscience. If I were questioning the doctrines of the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Real Presence, the Resurrection of the Body, the Virgin Birth, the Immaculate Conception or the Assumption, the CDF and
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the bishops would I believe have a right and a duty to point out my errors in a spirit of charity and good will. I have defended all these doctrines robustly in my theological publications. They are the grammar of the Catholic faith and knit our community together across the time and space of our historical existence, whatever our legitimate differences on social and moral issues. In the Church’s dialogue with secular law and culture, the laity must be willing to engage in public debate in order to seek the most viable solution to complex ethical debates which affect non-Catholics as well as Catholics, and which require us to seek the common good in changing times and contexts. Of course there will be disagreements about this, but when Catholics handle such disagreements with intelligence and mutual respect, it can be a potent witness to the intellectual depth and diversity of our tradition. The bloggers publicly attacking me cause scandal by degrading this rich tradition in favour of a narrow and bigoted authoritarianism. I do not believe it serves the Catholic community well to present us as an entirely homogeneous group with neither the personal freedom nor the intellectual understanding to grapple with challenging social and ethical issues and to come to different positions about these.
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  • Fall '11
  • Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, Second Vatican Council

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