LOS ANGELES, April 3, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Actor Martin Sheen has defended his position in favor of redefining marriage despite his Catholic faith, saying that “my religion’s highest standard is conscience.”

Sheen was asked about the apparent conflict between his Catholic identity and his stance on marriage by the Wilshire & Washington blog following his performance in a play that raised $2 million for a gay rights lobby group. Sheen played the role of one of the plaintiffs in the play “8,” a dramatic rendition of the Proposition 8 trials written by Dustin Lance Black, who also wrote the screenplay for the 2008 movie Milk.

“My religion’s highest standard is conscience. Nothing can get between your conscience and God, not even the Church, because for 2,000 years, my Church has been lifting up as exemplary various men and women in their lives who have served as inspiration to all of us over the centuries, and we call them saints,” Sheen said, as quoted by the blog.

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The West Wing actor pointed out that “the Church has not condemned a single soul to hell because it does not have the authority” and that “the Church is not God.”

“The Church is a conduit, and it is a spiritual journey, but it is not the end of the journey,” said Sheen. “The church is an institution, primarily of men, at least they are the major authorities. And so they are flawed, obviously. And so they are not authorized from preventing any member from following their conscience no matter what that is. You can’t get between a person’s conscience and their God. Nobody can do that.”

Although known to support generally liberal views – he was a strong advocate for Barack Obama’s presidential run - the seasoned Hollywood actor has voiced opposition in the past to some leftist cultural positions, such as assisted suicide and abortion.

Last year, Sheen spoke of his opposition to abortion, revealing that his wife was nearly killed by abortion after she was conceived in rape and describing how he supported unplanned pregnancies in his own family.