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Confronting the Vow of Obedience and Religious Exemptions for Vaccines
February 12, 2015
Summary: When a priest’s own conscience conflicts with his vow of obedience to the Church, what should he do? In 2012, Father Tony Flannery faced this question for himself. Plus, why more and more parents are seeking religious exemptions from vaccines.
Mark Stedman | Photocall Ireland
Father Flannery: Conscience is 'What Makes You Human' February 12, 2015
It’s one of the oldest dilemmas in the Catholic Church: when a priest’s own conscience conflicts with his vow of obedience. In 2012, Father Tony Flannery confronted this problem for himself, when he publicly challenged key church teachings on the priesthood, women's ordination and homosexuality, and was promptly silenced by the Vatican. For him, an informed conscience is the ultimate guide; right and wrong must be discerned from the inside out.

Father Tony Flannery, author of A Question of Conscience
Courtesy Thomas Petri
Father Petri: 'Be Docile to What the Saints Have Said' February 12, 2015
An informed conscience is not simply your own personal opinion, Father Thomas Petri tells us. Conscience is formed in relation to the Church, trusting the wisdom of the saints and Church Fathers. Explaining the standard doctrine, he says that as a public figure and representative of the Catholic Church, Father Flannery had a duty to work out his issues in private.

Father Thomas Petri, instructor of moral theology and pastoral studies at the Dominican House of Studies
Carlos Reusser Monsalvez | flickr
Need a Religious Exemption for Vaccination? Sign here February 12, 2015
Today, 48 states allow a religious exemption from vaccines, and in nine of those states, it’s as simple as getting a parent’s signature--kind of like a field trip permission form. Despite the fact that no major religion directly forbids vaccines, the number of parents opting out their children for religious reasons is on the rise. So, who are these parents? From February 2013.

Jason Schwartz, fellow in Bioethics at Princeton University