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25 Nov 2015 Middle East - Africa News Comments (1)

LIVE: Pope Francis arrives in Kenya - Watch

Watch a Live coverage of the Pope's arrival in Nairobi (Kenya) at the start of his papal visit to Africa https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrlPqNphfYk

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24 Dec 2014 Q&A No comments

May a couple who marry in the Church, divorce, and later reconcile resume marital relations?

Full Question A husband and wife are validly married in the Catholic Church, and after several years get a civil divorce, never seek an annulment, live cha…

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09 Nov 2014 Q&A No comments

Is there a difference between a presider and a celebrant?

Full Question I've recently seen places in the missalette where it lists celebrant and presider. Doesn't it mean priest or deacon? What do these really mea…

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23 Sep 2015 News USA No comments

Previewing the Pope at the United Nations: a call to abandon no one

In his much anticipated speech at the United Nations headquarters to be delivered Friday, Pope Francis will likely call on the countries of the world not to aba…

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02 Sep 2016 Uncategorized No comments

Archbishop of Canterbury to join Pope Francis in marking 30 years since Assisi

Religious leaders will participate in a three-day event celebrating the first World Day of Prayer The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will join Pope Fr…

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21 Oct 2015 News Vatican No comments

Sir James MacMillan to compose work for Fátima anniversary

The celebration in 2017 will be attended by Pope Francis Composer Sir James MacMillan has been commissioned by the Shrine of Fátima to write a work for the s…

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31 May 2016 USA Vatican No comments

Pope appoints pastor as new auxiliary bishop for Philadelphia Archdiocese

Mgr Edward Deliman's appointment was announced by the apostolic nuncio to the United States Pope Francis has named Mgr Edward Deliman, who is a priest of the P…

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17 Dec 2015 News USA No comments

A combined Plea of Intervention for Persecuted Christians

On Tuesday, December 15th, the Canadian Rabbinic Caucus and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops had a joint meeting and have sent an appeal to Stéphane …

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20 Oct 2015 News Vatican No comments

Why the Synod of Bishops is more than Rock’em Sock’em Robots

When you talk to people taking part in the 2015 Synod of Bishops on the family and ask where things stand, one observation you’ll often hear is that public impr…

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To lead a moral life, is it enough to follow your conscience?

Full Question

I’ve been told the only thing necessary for a Catholic to live a moral life is for him to follow his conscience. But what is your conscience tells you something that’s wrong is okay?

Answer

In determining what is right and wrong, conscience doesn’t work by magic. You first have to form your conscience. This means learning about good and evil, and that’s the job for the intellect.

Many people mistakenly think that conscience is the faculty that tells us what is right and what is wrong. Conscience is better thought of as an alarm. With your intellect you learn what’s right and wrong, and then conscience “sounds off” when you are about to violate the standards your intellect has learned. If you have no standards, you’ll never hear the alarm.

But you need to make sure not just that your conscience is formed but that it is formed correctly. If it is, the moral judgments you make will be reliable. If your conscience is formed poorly, then your moral judgments won’t be trustworthy.

For example, if you’ve been taught that there’s nothing wrong with stealing—or if you’ve never been taught that stealing is wrong—you won’t have any inhibitions against stealing. Your conscience won’t bother you when you steal because it isn’t reliable when it comes to the immorality of stealing. In other words, it’s been formed—but formed incorrectly.

It’s true we have an obligation to follow our conscience, even a poorly formed or “erroneous” one, but we also have an obligation to form our consciences properly. For Catholics, this means following what Jesus teaches in Scripture and Tradition through the magisterium of the Church.










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