Conscience objection

Basic facts on the “Conscience Concordat”
The Vatican attempted to elevate the “right to conscientious objection” far beyond anything it had ever done before, that is to say, far beyond the level of a concordat clause which exempts priests from military service. It extended the claims of “Catholic conscience” to make this the subject of a  whole concordat, which even the submission report admits is “unprecedented”.  This would have allowed Catholics to refuse to do or to authorise on the job anything which conflicted with Canon (Church) Law.Furthermore, the right to conscientious objection — and not just to objections which happen to be in line with Catholic doctrine — has been guaranteed by European law since 1950:

Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. (ECHR, Article 9.2)

This “human rights” formulation of conscientious objection differs in two fundamental respects from what the Vatican tries to enshrine in concordats:

●  first, it is universal : it applies to all kinds of conscientious objections and not just to ones which happen to be in line with Catholic doctrine

●  and second, it balances the right to freedom of conscience against the rights of other people.

The Vatican concordats, of course, define conscientious objection only in terms of “Catholic conscience” (by which they really mean only the conscience of the minority of Catholics who are extremely conservative) and they also try to make this right into a religious absolute without regard for other rights.

However, the Vatican’s notion of conscientious objection does make it easier for the Church to enforce its doctrines on both its own flock and others. For instance, under a conscience concordat it might be hard, especially in rural areas for anyone to get access any services (like contraception) which were prohibited by the Church. Furthermore, any Catholic who was afraid of Church reprisals against him or his family would then be forced to discover that he had “Catholic scruples”, even if he truly felt that he had no right to impose Church teaching on others.(Source: Concordatwatch.eu)

E.U. NETWORK OF INDEPENDENT EXPERTS ON FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS: THE RIGHT TO CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION AND THE CONCLUSION BY EU MEMBER STATES OF CONCORDATS WITH THE HOLY SEE

End of Women’s Reproductive Health Freedoms in Slovakia (legal analysis)

Letter of Members of the European Parliament to prime minister

Analysis and artciles on the conscience objection treaty avaiable here

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