Prof. discusses HHS law, conscience

first_imgAmid national controversy over the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) contraception mandate, members of the Notre Dame community discussed the development of conscience in the Catholic faith Monday. Led by David Clairmont, assistant professor of moral theology, the talk provided context for understanding the debate over the mandate requiring employers to include contraception in their insurance packages. “The bishops want to have the specific effects of the mandate on Catholic institutions eliminated so Catholic institutions will not be in the situation of providing things that go against Church teaching, even if there are varieties of opinions among Catholics about those preferences,” Clairmont said. Mary Daly, program coordinator for the Office for University Life Initiatives, said the HHS mandate passed under the Affordable Care Act also requires coverage for Plan B, sterilization and education on family planning methods. This goes against the conscience of Catholic employers, including universities, charities and hospitals, she said. “[The mandate] requires individuals to perform immoral acts against their consciences,” Daly said. Daly said the event, which was cosponsored by Campus Ministry, the Center for Ethics and Culture, the Center for Social Concerns, the Gender Relations Center, the Institute for Church Life and the University Life Initiatives office, aims to improve understanding of the key assertions in the debate over the HHS mandate. “People were coming at this from different angles of not understanding what the church was teaching,” she said. “We thought the most helpful thing we could provide for the students was what it means to form your conscience. We thought that would be the best starting point for students for thinking and talking about these issues.” Clairmont referenced one of the most frequently cited descriptions of conscience, the Second Vatican Council, which describes conscience as human beings’ attempts to live in ways that bring them ultimate happiness with God. “Deep within his conscience, man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself, but which he must obey,” Clairmont said. “His voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil.” Clairmont said people must work to improve their consciences by studying witnesses in the Church, like saints, and learning from the Church’s teaching authority. “[Conscience] needs to be developed throughout one’s whole life,” he said. “It’s never fully formed. It’s life-long work … There are always ways we can develop our moral conscience.” Clairmont contrasted this Catholic idea of conscience, rooted in never-ending improvement based in the Catechism, with the modern, secular belief that conscience is entirely individual. “Formation in conscience comes through studying the teachings of the Church on the matters pertaining to human happiness, and by studying the lived examples of other Christians,” he said. “Formation in happiness requires one to be constantly open to having one’s own experiences interrogated.” Addressing the pro-mandate argument that many Catholics do not adhere to the Church’s anti-contraception values and so do not oppose the mandate, Clairmont said conscience can always change and be improved. “It’s not as if conscience wells up in a pure judgment, saying, “This is what I must do,’” he said. “This is a judgment at this time, in light of what I know and the experiences I have already had. Those experiences might change.” Clairmont said he hoped the conversation about Catholic conscience would have long-term positive effects. “We have opportunities to shift the discussion slightly … as an opportunity to teach people in the wider society how Catholics understand religion and religious freedom, how we understand conscience,” Clairmont said. “Conscience has a very particular place in the logic of the faith’s presentation. And that is something that is relevant to the public discussion.”last_img read more

Largest Caribbean refinery in USVI to close

first_img Share Share NewsRegional Largest Caribbean refinery in USVI to close by: – January 19, 2012 Tweet Sharecenter_img 26 Views   one comment Sharing is caring! USVI Governor John de Jongh. Photo credit: nevisblog.comST CROIX, USVI — The Caribbean’s largest oil refinery in St Croix, US Virgin Islands, is to close down by mid-February because of reduced fuel demand and increased international competition.The Hovensa refinery is a joint venture between the Hess Corporation and Petroleos de Venezuela SA. Losses at the 350,000 barrel-a-day facility have totalled $1.3 billion in the past three years, the company said on Wednesday in a statement. USVI Governor John de Jongh described the announcement as “a complete body blow” for the territory. He said Hovensa generated some $60 million a year in revenue for the local government, which already faces a budget crisis.“Given what we’re going through right now, this is the last bit of news that I wanted to hear,” de Jongh said in a media teleconference.The refinery will be converted to an oil storage terminal, said Brian Lever, president and chief operating officer of Hovensa LLC.“We deeply regret the closure of the Hovensa refinery and the impact on our dedicated people,” Lever said. “We explored all available options to avoid this outcome, but severe financial losses left us with no other choice.”The Hovensa refinery employs 1,200 workers with another 950 contract employees at the site, Alex Moorhead, a Hovensa spokesman, said. About 100 people will be retained to operate the terminal, he said.By Caribbean News Now contributorlast_img read more