Is One’s Own Conscience Supreme?

This week’s Maclean’s has a cover story on Pope Benedict. It deals of course with the Pope’s controversial remarks on Islam, but also his strictures on Canada’s elected Catholic politicians for their support of policies such as same sex marriage. Quebec’s Cardinal Ouellet and Calgary’s Bishop Fred Henry (he seems to be at every ecclesiastical dog fight) also weigh in with their own strictures on Catholic politicians.

          As a matter of fact, the Catholic politicians quoted in the article, the NDP’s Tony Martin, Charlie Angus and Joe Comartin, all say they took the Church’s teaching into consideration when they formed their consciences on same sex marriage.  They took other things into consideration too such as Canada’s being a pluralistic society (they are not legislating just for Catholics) and their understanding of Christ’s message in the Gospels. Then each of them formed  his own consience.  This is solid Catholic teaching.  Even the view of the Pope (much less Cardinal Ouellett and Bishop Henry), does not superside one’s own conscience which is supreme in these matters.



  1. 1
    SUZANNE Says:

    The thing is, Catholic Revelation, as interpreted by the Church is supposed to inform one’s conscience.

    Yes, the NDP politicians are legislating for everyone else, but they are also legislating for the Common God, and the Common Good requires that the most basic unit of society be the family, which is made up of a mom and a dad and kids. That rule is true for everyone, whether they are believers or not. You don’t inform your conscience based on what others are ready to accept– you base it first on Truth.

  2. 2
    Barbara Says:

    What if many others in the society, using their own consciences and best lights and even the counsel of their religious leaders, see Truth from another perspective? They may believe as deeply in their perspective as we might in ours. Is it not better to find some truly Common Ground which we both could accept in conscience and build from that?

  3. 3

    There is no question that Catholic Revelation, as interpreted by the Church, should be taken into consideration when informing one’s conscience. But it is only one consideration. For example, the Pope’s official teaching that birth control is wrong si pretty well ignored by most Catholics. Are they wrong?

    Exactly. But who decides what is the Common Good and who decides what is truth in a pluralistic society? Canadians as a whole are not obliged to assent to the teachings of the Catechism of the Catholic church.

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