My reader Zippy Catholic used to note that when Progressives want to blow off Church teaching they appeal to “primacy of conscience” as the All-Excusing Catchphrase. Don’t like the Church’s teaching on the Pelvic Issues? Voila! Primacy of Conscience excuses you from obeying or even listening to what the Church says.Meanwhile, he noted, conservative dissenters perform the same feat by invoking the magical incantation “Prudential judgment”. Does the Church bug you with its teaching on war, torture, capital punishment, your sacred wallet, the poor, the weak, and the vulnerable who happen to have been born in the wrong country? No problem! Just say the magic words “prudential judgment” and you can ignore the Church completely.Both camps make use of Court Prophets to lend themselves an illusion of weightiness for refusing docility to the Magisterium’s teaching. Need an excuse for ignoring Humanae Vitae or Evangelium Vitae? Hey! Just quote Charles Curran or Dick McBrien or Hans Kung. Beside HV defined no *dogmas* so it’s optional.Likewise, if you are a conservative dissenter who wants to torture somebody, just go get a screen grab of Fr. Brian Harrison’s tendentious (and long repudiated by the author) defense of torture in interrogation. Or if you want to launch an unjust war, just ignore two popes and all the bishops of the world and go read Michael Novak explaining why “prudential judgement” means you can go ahead and do it anyway. And if there’s something about the Church’s social doctrine that inconveniences you, just have George Weigel highlight it in red and gold so you can take the stuff you like and blow off the bits you don’t. Or, better still, you can simply hire a court prophet to declare to you that

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