Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Conscience

"Of course, this view is often dressed up with the claim that conscience is a special faculty that speaks to us, rather like an oracle, and it may even be elevated to the status of a doctrine: the “primacy of conscience.” But however it is presented, it stands in contrast to the view that conscience is instead simply the mind thinking practically and morally. We think well when we understand moral principles and apply them in clear and reasonable ways; we think badly when we ignore or reinvent moral principles, or apply them in ambiguous and unreasonable ways. “Good conscience,” in this way of understanding, means a good grasp and a good application of moral truth—for it is the truth that remains primary, the truth that is grasped and applied by the practical mind."

'a Catholic conscience cannot accept a settled position against the Church, at least on a central moral teaching. Any difficulty with Church teaching should be not the end of the matter but the beginning of a process of conversion, education, and quite possibly repentance. Where a Catholic disagrees with the Church on some serious matter, the response should not be “that’s that—I can’t follow the Church here.” Instead we should kneel and pray that God will lead our weak steps and enlighten our fragile minds, as Newman recommends in his Sermon 17, “The Testimony of Conscience.”'

"Conscience, in this view, is neither the apprehending of an alien law nor the devising of our own laws. Rather, conscience is the free acceptance of the objective moral law as the basis of all our choices. The formation of a Christian conscience is thus a dignifying and liberating experience; it does not mean a resentful submission to God’s law but a free choosing of that law as our life’s ideal."

"In truth, most real-life dilemmas are not between the inner person and external authority but between competing desires and reasons that the person has trouble reconciling. As a way of sidestepping the terrible tension a moral dilemma can create, people may identify one side of the dilemma with their own conscience and the other with an external power such as the Church."

~George Pell

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