Sen. John Forbes Kerry is the first Roman Catholic in more than a generation to be a serious contender for the US presidency. Yet, like an earlier JFK whom he claims to admire, Kerry too is claiming that he will be a president who just happens to be a practising Catholic. He will not be taking instruction from the Pope, or even from his church's social teachings. Here's is Fr. Robert Sirico, who finds Kerry's refusal to 'inform his conscience' detrimental. To those objecting to the church's role in forming the conscience of its members, Sirico writes:
If religious leaders cannot set the terms of their moral guidance, how are they religious leaders? To be sure, all Catholic politicians must follow their consciences. But the church must also be free to exercise its role as the former of conscience. To let the Catholic Church be Catholic is as essential to pluralism as people's freedom to accept or reject its teachings. Let us not confuse matters by claiming that a church that claims moral authority over the believer is violating anyone's rights.