Have you ever been told that you should always follow your conscience?
According to the Church, one “must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience.”
“A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself. Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church 1790
Detractors of the Church might say this is proof that Church teaching is wrong with a gotcha question – “so a murderer should follow their conscience?”
Well, Paul says it’s possible for your conscience to be malformed:
“Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the last times some will turn away from the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and demonic instructions, through the hypocrisy of liars with branded consciences.” – 1 Timothy 4:1-2
In Veritatis splendor, Pope Saint John Paul II wisely shows how your conscience is not the end-all be-all moral arbiter.
“Conscience is not an independent and exclusive capacity to decide what is good and what is evil. Rather there is profoundly imprinted upon it a principle of obedience vis-à-vis the objective norm which establishes and conditions the correspondence of its decisions with the commands and prohibitions which are at the basis of human behavior.”
He also warns of what happens when a conscience begins to stray.
“When conscience, this bright lamp of the soul (cf. Mt 6:22-23), calls “evil good and good evil” (Is 5:20), it is already on the path to the most alarming corruption and the darkest moral blindness.”- Evangelium vitae
The Catechism explains this further: “personal conscience and reason should not be set in opposition to the moral law or the Magisterium of the Church.” (CCC2039)
A well formed conscience should not only only abide moral law and doctrine, but use it to come to God.
“In all his activity a man is bound to follow his conscience in order that he may come to God, the end and purpose of life.” – Dignitatis Humanae
🙏 Pray for a well formed conscience!