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26 Aug 2016 Uncategorized No comments

Cafod praises historic peace deal between Colombia and rebel fighters

A peace deal has been reached in Colombia which will see the end to the longest internal armed conflict in the western hemisphere The aid agency Cafod has welc…

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02 Nov 2016 News No comments

Catholics and Lutherans must ‘move beyond controversies of the past’, says Pope Francis

Francis was speaking at a service to mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation Pope Francis urged Catholics and Lutherans to take decisive steps…

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18 May 2016 Americas Australia Europe Middle East Middle East - Africa News United Kingdom USA Vatican Comments (1)

Muslims must rescue themselves from extremists - Bishop Kukah says

Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto, Nigeria, said Islam “has to rescue itself from extremists.” The bishop made the comments in an interview with Catholic…

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14 Jul 2016 Europe News United Kingdom USA Vatican No comments

Heythrop confirms there will be no merger with Roehampton University

A proposed merger between Heythrop College and Roehampton University will now not go ahead, it emerged this week. The Society of Jesus, which runs the colleg…

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14 Oct 2015 News Vatican No comments

NJ archbishop sets strict rules barring Catholics from the sacraments

ROME — Even as Pope Francis and Catholic leaders from around the world debate ways to make the Catholic Church more inclusive, Newark Archbishop John Myers has …

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12 Oct 2015 Articles No comments

On the Feast of Blessed John Henry Newman raise a glass to Pius X

We must not forget the anti-modernists who saved Newman's reputation St Pius X, a pope not normally known for his humour, once wrote of Cardinal Newman: ‘Truly…

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03 Sep 2015 Middle East News No comments

Patriarch pleads for young Christians to stay in Syria, Iraq

In an open letter to young Catholics, Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregory III Laham has pleaded for an end to a “tsunami” of emigration. “The almost communal …

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17 Sep 2015 News Vatican No comments

Pope asks cardinals to review how the Church vets future bishops

Council of Cardinals will study the way the Church identifies and appoints bishops Pope Francis has asked his international Council of Cardinals to study the…

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16 Sep 2015 Articles Comments (7)

The origin of the Stations of the Cross

The Stations of the Cross which follow the path of Christ from Pontius Pilate’s praetorium to Christ’s tomb have been a popular devotion in parishes, especially…

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Why do we need the Church’s rules when our conscience tells us what is right and wrong?

Full Question

I don’t need your Church’s rules. My conscience tells me what’s right and what’s wrong. All I have to do is follow my conscience.


Not exactly. Conscience is the faculty that warns you you’re doing something wrong or neglecting to do something you should be doing. But it doesn’t work in a vacuum. Your conscience first must be told what’s right and wrong—it starts out as an empty slate—and that’s a job for your intellect. If you learn that stealing is no sin, and if you really believe it, your conscience won’t bother you when you rob a bank. If you learn that fornication is not sinful, no warning bells will go off when you engage in it. In either case your conscience will have been formed improperly.

Although you have a duty to follow your conscience, you have a prior duty to form your conscience well. You do this through following the moral teaching of the Church, through prayer, and through close attention to Scripture. Neglect those, and you will end up with either an empty conscience, which won’t be able to guide you at all, or with a cramped conscience, which will see sin where there is no sin.

The former condition is called licentiousness, the latter scrupulosity. Those who suffer from licentiousness never seem to see any sin but the grossest (which only other people commit, of course). Those who suffer from scrupulosity see sin even in innocent things. Someone who is burdened by no guilt at all (I have met some people like that) or by much guilt (I have met that sort too) should see a good priest-confessor. These conditions are signs of spiritual malformation, and they can be corrected.


  1. Quality Reply

    is it only the Church teachings that can help us train our conscience? My dad is not a believer of any church, but he rarely sins. In fact he lives a holier life than most of the church goers I know! I adore his living with fellow mankind even more than my priest.

  2. GIE Paras Reply

    The Catholic Church founded by Jesus Christ Himself Is by far..!!!

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