AP wire

Pope reaffirms conscience as heresy debate divides church

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VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has reaffirmed the "primary" role of using one's conscience to navigate tough moral questions in his first comments since he was accused of spreading heresy by emphasizing conscience over hard and fast Catholic rules.

Francis issued a video message Saturday to a conference on his controversial 2016 document on family life, "The Joy of Love." The document has badly divided the Catholic Church, with some commentators warning that it risks creating a schism given its cautious opening to letting divorced and civilly remarried Catholics receive Communion.

Francis told the conference that priests must inform the consciences of the faithful "but not substitute them." And he stressed the distinction between one's conscience — where God reveals himself — and one's ego that thinks it can do as it pleases.

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