Thursday, January 30, 2014

Conscience and Truth

Do not quench the Spirit!

Something from John Paul II.

In their desire to emphasize the "creative" character of conscience, certain authors no longer call its actions "judgments" but "decisions" : only by making these decisions "autonomously" would man be able to attain moral maturity. Some even hold that this process of maturing is inhibited by the excessively categorical position adopted by the Church's Magisterium in many moral questions; for them, the Church's interventions are the cause of unnecessary conflicts of conscience.

56. In order to justify these positions, some authors have proposed a kind of double status of moral truth. Beyond the doctrinal and abstract level, one would have to acknowledge the priority of a certain more concrete existential consideration. The latter, by taking account of circumstances and the situation, could legitimately be the basis of certain exceptions to the general rule and thus permit one to do in practice and in good conscience what is qualified as intrinsically evil by the moral law. A separation, or even an opposition, is thus established in some cases between the teaching of the precept, which is valid in general, and the norm of the individual conscience, which would in fact make the final decision about what is good and what is evil. On this basis, an attempt is made to legitimize so-called "pastoral" solutions contrary to the teaching of the Magisterium, and to justify a "creative" hermeneutic according to which the moral conscience is in no way obliged, in every case, by a particular negative precept.

No one can fail to realize that these approaches pose a challenge to the very identity of the moral conscience in relation to human freedom and God's law.


Christians have a great help for the formation of conscience in the Church and her Magisterium.As the Council affirms: "In forming their consciences the Christian faithful must give careful attention to the sacred and certain teaching of the Church. For the Catholic Church is by the will of Christ the teacher of truth. Her charge is to announce and teach authentically that truth which is Christ, and at the same time with her authority to declare and confirm the principles of the moral order which derive from human nature itself ".111 It follows that the authority of the Church, when she pronounces on moral questions, in no way undermines the freedom of conscience of Christians. This is so not only because freedom of conscience is never freedom "from" the truth but always and only freedom "in" the truth, but also because the Magisterium does not bring to the Christian conscience truths which are extraneous to it; rather it brings to light the truths which it ought already to possess, developing them from the starting point of the primordial act of faith. The Church puts herself always and only at the service of conscience, helping it to avoid being tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine proposed by human deceit (cf. Eph 4:14), and helping it not to swerve from the truth about the good of man, but rather, especially in more difficult questions, to attain the truth with certainty and to abide in it. - Veritatis splendor

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Veritatis splendor is always in my sidebar.  In the absence of Pope Francis speaking less ex cathedra and talking more ex cuff on Catholic moral teaching, perhaps it is a good idea to re-examine the Magisterial teaching contained in the encyclicals of Bl. John Paul II, as a moral compass in these days of confusion.  It could also be a wonderful way to prepare for the canonization.


  1. Off topic...
    the wide measure doesn’t make for easy reading.
    Images also appear lonesome. :(
    I liked the look before the revamp. :)

    1. Sorry - I have no idea what happened to the old format - I had to redo - it is google goblins I think. I'm really planning on closing shop sometimes this year.

  2. I don't think its the spacing and margins that make it difficult to read, but the material itself.

    Another interesting post Terry..I think its very interesting to talk about conscience and interpretation. I think this argument is a very florid way of saying, "You have your own personal conscience until we tell you to do otherwise," and never answers the question..."What if the Church says something that deep down in your heart and mind, after thinking and praying about it, you just don't disagree, (out of convenience) but feel is wrong.

    I also have to say that this is another example of how the Church's teachings and reasonings need to come into the middle for most normal Joe and Josephine Catholic. Its either the Baltimore Catechism (this is right and this is wrong and don't ask any questions or you will never be confirmed and you will be forever a shame on your parents,") to this kind of writing that again, you would have to be an academic or theologian to understand much less be interested in reading it to the bitter end (or I guess you need some of that" book learnin' "stuff!)


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