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Author Topic: Primacy of Conscience in Catholicism and Orthodoxy  (Read 2593 times) Average Rating: 0
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Maria
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« Reply #45 on: January 23, 2013, 11:48:02 PM »

I have been participating in a Catholic RCIA class for the past few months (round two, after a previous attempt several years ago).  In the class, it has been brought up by the instructors and assistants that Catholics are obliged to follow their informed consciences, even if their conscience urges them to violate Church teaching.  I have been doing some studying on this issue, as I do not believe that is an accurate representation of Church teaching.


What are the references to this teaching?

If one has done one's best to inform the conscience, then one is morally obligated to follow the conscience, even if the conscience is objectively in error.

"Moral theology has attempted to convey the traditional doctrine regarding the primacy of conscience by referring to it as the proximate norm, the ultimate and supreme subjective measure of the goodness or evil of what we do. The force of this is that a correct conscience always obliges us to follow it. But it also means that, even if, because of unavoidable lack of knowledge, our conscience is erroneous, it still remains the immediate norm or measure of the morality of our action and must be followed, or at least not acted against.

St. Thomas Aquinas supports what he says on this point by a couple of rather startling illustrations. Not to have extramarital sex, he says, can be mistakenly seen as a bad thing. In this case one does wrong in refraining because one would then be prepared to choose what is seen as evil. For the same reason it would be wrong for someone, he says, to believe in Jesus Christ when this is erroneously apprehended as a bad thing. In doing so in either case, according to St. Thomas and the tradition of the Church, one would commit sin."

Do you have the citation from the Summa on that?
Footnote 11: Summa Theologiae I-II, I9, 5.

Who wrote that footnote?
Publication date?
Check the link in the quote; the whole paper is there.

I no longer have my copies of Summa.

It seems like Brian Lewis took St. Thomas way out of context. That is the problem with modern theologians. Orthodox Theologians are those who pray. Heterodox theologians like Brian Lewis do not know how to pray correctly.
Here's another comment on Aquinas and conscience:

"For Aquinas, every conscience binds, even an erring one. This means that if there is something that you believe you cannot do (after having taken care to form your conscience as well as you can), even if the Church commands it, then you cannot do it without committing a sin."

And:

""Let your conscience be your guide," we say. That is true. The ultimate guide for each person in his moral decisions is his conscience. We must follow the dictates of a certain conscience -- even if it is erroneous."

You have given yet another link to another .com site, which is not an educational site.
Anyone with some money can set up a nifty .com site.

http://www.aquinasonline.com/Questions/conscience.htm

This .com site is not worth the time. Furthermore, it is dangerous to read it.
Who is behind it?
How about the Catechism of the Catholic Church?  Smiley

1790 A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself.

And reading that section was comforting.
I realized that the Roman Catholic Church had fallen into serious error (heresy) with Vatican I and Vatican II.

Studying Orthodoxy gave me peace of mind.
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« Reply #46 on: January 24, 2013, 10:13:36 PM »


1790 A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself.

Yeah, if you take it out of context of the other things around it.
.

1789 Some rules apply in every case:

- One may never do evil so that good may result from it;

- the Golden Rule: "Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them."56

- charity always proceeds by way of respect for one's neighbor and his conscience: "Thus sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience . . . you sin against Christ."57 Therefore "it is right not to . . . do anything that makes your brother stumble."58

IV. ERRONEOUS JUDGMENT

1790 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.

1791 This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is the case when a man "takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin."59 In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits.

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« Reply #47 on: January 24, 2013, 10:24:51 PM »


1790 A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself.

Yeah, if you take it out of context of the other things around it.
.

1789 Some rules apply in every case:

- One may never do evil so that good may result from it;

- the Golden Rule: "Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them."56

- charity always proceeds by way of respect for one's neighbor and his conscience: "Thus sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience . . . you sin against Christ."57 Therefore "it is right not to . . . do anything that makes your brother stumble."58

IV. ERRONEOUS JUDGMENT

1790 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.

1791 This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is the case when a man "takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin."59 In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits.


Yes, your duty is to inform your conscience. However, then you must act, following your conscience -- even if (objectively) it is in error, in which case, your ignorance is invincible and you are not culpable:

1793 If - on the contrary - the ignorance is invincible, or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous judgment, the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2013, 10:26:05 PM by Jetavan » Logged

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« Reply #48 on: January 24, 2013, 10:41:08 PM »

I might have to write my goodbye letter here soon too.

Does anyone think anymore?

Some of these threads lately are embarrassingly trite.

Regardless of how you decide things it is always in virtue of your conscious once it is at a reflective level.

The Church is no one's conscious as such once subjectivity is in play. People might allow "the Church" (whatever that means to them, the Priest they decide to listen to, the part of the Bible they think is relevant, the Patristic literature they find to be helpful) to inform their decisions, but in the end the radical openness of subjectivity means that for all people, they are choosing.

Luther was right about a lot of things. I would highly suggest actually reading his work as a descriptive analysis of hermeneutics rather than a prescriptive one.

Then move on to all the research done in his wake.

The Church's "teaching" is always a matter of subjectivity. This is no weakness and the recoiling from the insights of modernity is no answer to the problem. Subjectivity must be radically thought through by the Church in light of primarily Trinitarian thought.

Can't get around it, once you have reflected upon that which you thinking.

Thank you Orthonorm. Excellent post
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« Reply #49 on: January 24, 2013, 11:03:13 PM »


1790 A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself.

Yeah, if you take it out of context of the other things around it.
.

1789 Some rules apply in every case:

- One may never do evil so that good may result from it;

- the Golden Rule: "Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them."56

- charity always proceeds by way of respect for one's neighbor and his conscience: "Thus sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience . . . you sin against Christ."57 Therefore "it is right not to . . . do anything that makes your brother stumble."58

IV. ERRONEOUS JUDGMENT

1790 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.

1791 This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is the case when a man "takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin."59 In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits.


Yes, your duty is to inform your conscience. However, then you must act, following your conscience -- even if (objectively) it is in error, in which case, your ignorance is invincible and you are not culpable:

1793 If - on the contrary - the ignorance is invincible, or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous judgment, the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience.

If it remains "no less an evil, a privation, a disorder," then there is also the obligation of one's fellow Christians to meet either privately with that disordered person to correct him/her in charity or to meet with that person's Spiritual Father/Confessor or Godparents and seek their help. We cannot ignore evil.  

« Last Edit: January 24, 2013, 11:05:06 PM by Maria » Logged

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« Reply #50 on: January 24, 2013, 11:04:39 PM »

I have been participating in a Catholic RCIA class for the past few months (round two, after a previous attempt several years ago).  In the class, it has been brought up by the instructors and assistants that Catholics are obliged to follow their informed consciences, even if their conscience urges them to violate Church teaching.  I have been doing some studying on this issue, as I do not believe that is an accurate representation of Church teaching.

What does Orthodoxy teach about the role of conscience?  If one believes a Church teaching is false, can one claim the guidance of conscience, and then proceed how they wish?

Thank you.

After reading through the thread, I think some people are getting it wrong regarding the WAY in which you were informed regarding the obligation to follow your conscience.

I do not think your teachers meant following your conscience at the expense of following, for example, the moral code of the 10 Commandments. Hmmmm, the Church and Bible tell me not to bear false witness, but I think I SHOULD bear false witness on a daily basis.

In the sense of conscience being  the "good angel on our shoulder" and us not listening and feeling bad when we do wrong anyway (listening to the bad angel on the other shoulder, so to speak) - that is where our consciences can get seared and of course a seared conscience in that sense can NEVER trump the Church (or even the Bible if you are a protestant sola scriptura-ist).

But, if I have Jews in my basement and the Gestapo is at the door asking if I am hiding Jews and I THINK the Church tells me in an absolutist sense to NEVER bear false witness to my neighbor, even if he is Gestapo, (whether Rome or Constantinople actually teaches such an absoluitst view of ethics, is debatable, but in this example, the Orthodox or RC Christian THINKS that is what the Church teaches and he doesn't feel right in his conscience about giving up Jews to the Gestapo, so then 100% he should follow his conscience over the Church (at least over what he thinks or understands the Church to teach, because, for him, it is the same thing ethically, even if he is wrong about what the Church really does teach and especially if he has taken any care to understand his faith and his Church but just has it wrong, or had a priest that got it wrong, whatever - see Orthonorm's post that we can NEVER escape subjectivity).


What about anathemas against Jews that CAME from the Church? It pains MY conscience that the Church ever made those and I would hope I would have stood against the Church regarding those had I lived in those days (although I likely would not have; hindsight is 20/20 and I likely would have the same prejudices as my culture).

The sense that your instructors are refering to, it seems to me, fall into this category of moral dilemma, when the Church's teaching (or perceived teaching) doesn't square with the reality on the ground (I have Jews in my basement and Nazis at my door) or the Church is acting in a manner INCONSISTENT with its own ethics and the love of God.


« Last Edit: January 24, 2013, 11:09:54 PM by BrotherAidan » Logged
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« Reply #51 on: January 24, 2013, 11:12:07 PM »

I have been participating in a Catholic RCIA class for the past few months (round two, after a previous attempt several years ago).  In the class, it has been brought up by the instructors and assistants that Catholics are obliged to follow their informed consciences, even if their conscience urges them to violate Church teaching.  I have been doing some studying on this issue, as I do not believe that is an accurate representation of Church teaching.

What does Orthodoxy teach about the role of conscience?  If one believes a Church teaching is false, can one claim the guidance of conscience, and then proceed how they wish?

Thank you.

After reading through the thread, I think some people are getting it wrong regarding the WAY in which you were informed regarding the obligation to follow your conscience.

I do not think your teachers meant following your conscience at the expense of following, for example, the moral code of the 10 Commandments. Hmmmm, the Church and Bible tell me not to bear false witness, but I think I SHOULD bear false witness on a daily basis.

In the sense of conscience being  the "good angel on our shoulder" and us not listening and feeling bad when we do wrong anyway (listening to the bad angel on the other shoulder, so to speak) - that is where our consciences can get seared and of course a seared conscience in that sense can NEVER trump the Church (or even the Bible if you are a protestant sola scriptura-ist).

But, if I have Jews in my basement and the Gestapo is at the door asking if I am hiding Jews and I THINK the Church tells me in an absolutist sense to NEVER bear false witness to my neighbor, even if he is Gestapo, (whether Rome or Constantinople actually teaches such an absoluitst view of ethics, is debatable, but in this example, the Orthodox or RC Christian THINKS that is what the Church teaches and he doesn't feel right in his conscience about giving up Jews to the Gestapo, so then 100% he should follow his conscience over the Church (at least over what he thinks or understands the Church to teach, because, for him, it is the same thing ethically, even if he is wrong about what the Church really does teach and especially if he has taken any care to understand his faith and his Church but just has it wrong, or had a priest that got it wrong, whatever - see Orthonorm's post that we can NEVER escape subjectivity).


What about anathemas against Jews the CAME from the Church. It pains MY conscience that the Church ever made those and I would hope I would have stood against the Church regarding those had I lived in those days (although I likely would not have; hindsight is 20/20 and I likely would have the same prejudices as my culture).

The sense that your instructors are refering to, it seems to me, fall into this category of moral dilemma, when the Church's teachng (or perceived teaching) doesn't square with the reality on the ground (I have Jews in my basement and Nazis at my door) or the Church is acting in a manner INCONSISTENT with its own ethics and the love of God.



I am going to start a new thread to discuss this realistic question regarding hiding refugees from an ungodly government who seeks to kill them. For example, Nazis vs. Jews/Orthodox Christians was a real issue because Nazis imprisoned and killed both Jews and Orthodox Christians.

This threat is very real today in Iran where a U.S. Citizen is being held without bond and may be executed for preaching the word of God in an atheistic Islamic country.

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,49448.new.html#new
« Last Edit: January 24, 2013, 11:22:42 PM by Maria » Logged

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« Reply #52 on: January 24, 2013, 11:23:38 PM »

conscience (as opposed to conscious  Grin)


When will my computer learn what I mean. If I had a dollar for every time I made this mistake I would be a millionaire.

Why spelling is important:



Nice!

My problem is that they are the same thing in any sane world and I forget the difference without a difference others lend to it and get stuck in one and never give up.

I think it is a muscle memory thing. I just the most recent spelling for the same thing.

Again, there is no difference between conscious and conscience once one looks at both in a meaningful fashion.

Also I tend to use synonyms and homonyms when typing (but not speaking or writing by hand) due to a head injury (last of a series of concussions). And typing is somehow more exhausting than it once was. It is the symptom that never seems to go away completely.

It is a bit embarrassing, but I have excepted it for what it is.


Yes, that last bit was attentional.


I bet it is the light from the computer screen that makes typing exhausting. I have a freind who just recently got a concussion in a car accident and she can't even look at the screen for more than a few minutes without getting sick and getting headaches.
If you could get your hands on an old fashioned type-writer, I bet you wouldn't have the same fatigue (not that you would have any reason or desire to type on a type-writer in today's world, other than as an experiment).
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« Reply #53 on: January 24, 2013, 11:25:04 PM »

if you do have an old type-writer, you might want to "expect" that experiment!
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« Reply #54 on: January 24, 2013, 11:30:41 PM »

However, if your attention is to make askeweses for your computer typing you will acts the experiment!
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« Reply #55 on: January 24, 2013, 11:53:35 PM »

I have been participating in a Catholic RCIA class for the past few months (round two, after a previous attempt several years ago).  In the class, it has been brought up by the instructors and assistants that Catholics are obliged to follow their informed consciences, even if their conscience urges them to violate Church teaching.  I have been doing some studying on this issue, as I do not believe that is an accurate representation of Church teaching.


What are the references to this teaching?

If one has done one's best to inform the conscience, then one is morally obligated to follow the conscience, even if the conscience is objectively in error.

"Moral theology has attempted to convey the traditional doctrine regarding the primacy of conscience by referring to it as the proximate norm, the ultimate and supreme subjective measure of the goodness or evil of what we do. The force of this is that a correct conscience always obliges us to follow it. But it also means that, even if, because of unavoidable lack of knowledge, our conscience is erroneous, it still remains the immediate norm or measure of the morality of our action and must be followed, or at least not acted against.

St. Thomas Aquinas supports what he says on this point by a couple of rather startling illustrations. Not to have extramarital sex, he says, can be mistakenly seen as a bad thing. In this case one does wrong in refraining because one would then be prepared to choose what is seen as evil. For the same reason it would be wrong for someone, he says, to believe in Jesus Christ when this is erroneously apprehended as a bad thing. In doing so in either case, according to St, Thomas and the tradition of the Church, one would commit sin."

Here is a question regarding the last part of that question. Generally, because of that insight regarding belief, the Church has not endorsed "forced conversions." But didn't the Byzantine empire enforce conversions on some of its conquered peoples? (not that the Orthodox Church forced the conversions, but the emperor did; although the Church would have had to have been passively silent at best and somewhat complicit at worst). Again, I am asking because I believe I have read that this was the case from more than one source (and not in sources necessarily hostile to Orthodoxy).

Anyway, if true, it's a sad case of "the chickens coming home to roost" because Muslims, or at least some of the people the muslims converted away from Orthodoxy, would have learned "forced conversions" from the Byzantines, perhaps having been forced into a conversion to the religion of the empire. And that is why they so readily embraced Islam, because their conversion to Christianity had been forced upon them, whether they had been Zoroastrians or Manichaens, or whatever before that.

Now, getting back to the thread, too bad, in either case, that persons of conscience did not rise up and say that forced conversions are bad even if the Emperor practices it, even if the Church practices it, even if the Imam practices it.
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« Reply #56 on: January 25, 2013, 12:10:52 AM »

I have been participating in a Catholic RCIA class for the past few months (round two, after a previous attempt several years ago).  In the class, it has been brought up by the instructors and assistants that Catholics are obliged to follow their informed consciences, even if their conscience urges them to violate Church teaching.  I have been doing some studying on this issue, as I do not believe that is an accurate representation of Church teaching.


What are the references to this teaching?

If one has done one's best to inform the conscience, then one is morally obligated to follow the conscience, even if the conscience is objectively in error.

"Moral theology has attempted to convey the traditional doctrine regarding the primacy of conscience by referring to it as the proximate norm, the ultimate and supreme subjective measure of the goodness or evil of what we do. The force of this is that a correct conscience always obliges us to follow it. But it also means that, even if, because of unavoidable lack of knowledge, our conscience is erroneous, it still remains the immediate norm or measure of the morality of our action and must be followed, or at least not acted against.

St. Thomas Aquinas supports what he says on this point by a couple of rather startling illustrations. Not to have extramarital sex, he says, can be mistakenly seen as a bad thing. In this case one does wrong in refraining because one would then be prepared to choose what is seen as evil. For the same reason it would be wrong for someone, he says, to believe in Jesus Christ when this is erroneously apprehended as a bad thing. In doing so in either case, according to St, Thomas and the tradition of the Church, one would commit sin."

Here is a question regarding the last part of that question. Generally, because of that insight regarding belief, the Church has not endorsed "forced conversions." But didn't the Byzantine empire enforce conversions on some of its conquered peoples? (not that the Orthodox Church forced the conversions, but the emperor did; although the Church would have had to have been passively silent at best and somewhat complicit at worst). Again, I am asking because I believe I have read that this was the case from more than one source (and not in sources necessarily hostile to Orthodoxy).

Anyway, if true, it's a sad case of "the chickens coming home to roost" because Muslims, or at least some of the people the muslims converted away from Orthodoxy, would have learned "forced conversions" from the Byzantines, perhaps having been forced into a conversion to the religion of the empire. And that is why they so readily embraced Islam, because their conversion to Christianity had been forced upon them, whether they had been Zoroastrians or Manichaens, or whatever before that.

Now, getting back to the thread, too bad, in either case, that persons of conscience did not rise up and say that forced conversions are bad even if the Emperor practices it, even if the Church practices it, even if the Imam practices it.

Did not St. Vladimir of Russia force the conversion of thousands (millions) of Russians to Orthodox Christianity?
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« Reply #57 on: January 25, 2013, 12:49:24 AM »

I have been participating in a Catholic RCIA class for the past few months (round two, after a previous attempt several years ago).  In the class, it has been brought up by the instructors and assistants that Catholics are obliged to follow their informed consciences, even if their conscience urges them to violate Church teaching.  I have been doing some studying on this issue, as I do not believe that is an accurate representation of Church teaching.


What are the references to this teaching?

If one has done one's best to inform the conscience, then one is morally obligated to follow the conscience, even if the conscience is objectively in error.

"Moral theology has attempted to convey the traditional doctrine regarding the primacy of conscience by referring to it as the proximate norm, the ultimate and supreme subjective measure of the goodness or evil of what we do. The force of this is that a correct conscience always obliges us to follow it. But it also means that, even if, because of unavoidable lack of knowledge, our conscience is erroneous, it still remains the immediate norm or measure of the morality of our action and must be followed, or at least not acted against.

St. Thomas Aquinas supports what he says on this point by a couple of rather startling illustrations. Not to have extramarital sex, he says, can be mistakenly seen as a bad thing. In this case one does wrong in refraining because one would then be prepared to choose what is seen as evil. For the same reason it would be wrong for someone, he says, to believe in Jesus Christ when this is erroneously apprehended as a bad thing. In doing so in either case, according to St. Thomas and the tradition of the Church, one would commit sin."

Do you have the citation from the Summa on that?
Footnote 11: Summa Theologiae I-II, I9, 5.

Who wrote that footnote?
Publication date?
Check the link in the quote; the whole paper is there.

I no longer have my copies of Summa.

It seems like Brian Lewis took St. Thomas way out of context. That is the problem with modern theologians. Orthodox Theologians are those who pray. Heterodox theologians like Brian Lewis do not know how to pray correctly.
Here's another comment on Aquinas and conscience:

"For Aquinas, every conscience binds, even an erring one. This means that if there is something that you believe you cannot do (after having taken care to form your conscience as well as you can), even if the Church commands it, then you cannot do it without committing a sin."

And:

""Let your conscience be your guide," we say. That is true. The ultimate guide for each person in his moral decisions is his conscience. We must follow the dictates of a certain conscience -- even if it is erroneous."

You cannot avoid this conclusion of Aquinas nor the role of subjectivity that Orthonorm pointed out.

The whole issue is essentially circular, if you "get" what Jetavan is getting at in the Aquinas quote and what Orthonorm was getting at. My own conscience compels me to follow the Church's teaching above the voice or objection of my own conscience; or, my own conscience compels me to follow my own conscience over the Church's teaching. Conscience tells conscience what to do.

You cannot get away from the subjectivity of the individual conscience (not to be confused with subjectivism - carefully follow the use and definition of words here). And as the Aquinas quote so ably indicates, you cannot act against your conscience (even if improperly formed) without sinning. You would receive the harsher judgment for going against conscience than for being mistaken in your conscience's belief.

Keep in mind, that we are talking here about situations that would involve the "higher good" or perhaps a "lesser evil" as opposed to an absolutist ethical stance. Or, even a mistaken absolutist formation of conscience over against an absolutist ethical stance of the Church.

Not just ethics either, we can also be talking about a doctrinal position that we feel we must take - there are plenty of examples in Church history, oh about every 500 years or so: the non-Chalcedonian Churches, the split between Rome and Constantinople 500 years later, the 95 Theses about another 500 years later. This is not to say either that all of these groups were correct objectively, or that they were all are correct "in their own way." It is just to say that each split was principled and based on the conscience of one group of Christians over agains the rest of the Church at that point in time. Which group ultimately followed their conscience against the Church to MAINTAIN the True Church is certainly a matter of the "eye of the beholder." Once again the issue of subjectivity.

So these aren't "seared" conscience type issues that the teachers in the original post were referencing with respect to conscience. We are not talking about intellectual or ethical laziness as a justifiable excuse for letting conscience to speak for itself over against the Church. Nor are we talking about ignoring one's conscience so much that is ceases to function or becomes hardened. Nor are we talking about taking the cheap or easy way out to avoid personal sacrifice or to protect personal pride or to justify bad doctrine and thereby disobeying or opposing a teaching of the Church. And we aren't talking about situational ethics or relativism as a means of elevating personal conscience above the Church: first because higher good/lesser evil positions still require an exposition of why that choice is more good or less evil, and so arrives at an objective judgment between goods or evils (whereas situationalism gets it cue from circumstance, relative to competing situations); second because even wrongly formed absolutist positions (if you are an absolutist) must be arbiters of  individual conscience over against the "correct" absolutist dictates of the Church if the subject truly believes the wrong formation in an absolute manner. Which again, is why this is circular (but not relative).
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« Reply #58 on: January 25, 2013, 01:01:04 AM »

I have been participating in a Catholic RCIA class for the past few months (round two, after a previous attempt several years ago).  In the class, it has been brought up by the instructors and assistants that Catholics are obliged to follow their informed consciences, even if their conscience urges them to violate Church teaching.  I have been doing some studying on this issue, as I do not believe that is an accurate representation of Church teaching.


What are the references to this teaching?

If one has done one's best to inform the conscience, then one is morally obligated to follow the conscience, even if the conscience is objectively in error.

"Moral theology has attempted to convey the traditional doctrine regarding the primacy of conscience by referring to it as the proximate norm, the ultimate and supreme subjective measure of the goodness or evil of what we do. The force of this is that a correct conscience always obliges us to follow it. But it also means that, even if, because of unavoidable lack of knowledge, our conscience is erroneous, it still remains the immediate norm or measure of the morality of our action and must be followed, or at least not acted against.

St. Thomas Aquinas supports what he says on this point by a couple of rather startling illustrations. Not to have extramarital sex, he says, can be mistakenly seen as a bad thing. In this case one does wrong in refraining because one would then be prepared to choose what is seen as evil. For the same reason it would be wrong for someone, he says, to believe in Jesus Christ when this is erroneously apprehended as a bad thing. In doing so in either case, according to St, Thomas and the tradition of the Church, one would commit sin."

Here is a question regarding the last part of that question. Generally, because of that insight regarding belief, the Church has not endorsed "forced conversions." But didn't the Byzantine empire enforce conversions on some of its conquered peoples? (not that the Orthodox Church forced the conversions, but the emperor did; although the Church would have had to have been passively silent at best and somewhat complicit at worst). Again, I am asking because I believe I have read that this was the case from more than one source (and not in sources necessarily hostile to Orthodoxy).

Anyway, if true, it's a sad case of "the chickens coming home to roost" because Muslims, or at least some of the people the muslims converted away from Orthodoxy, would have learned "forced conversions" from the Byzantines, perhaps having been forced into a conversion to the religion of the empire. And that is why they so readily embraced Islam, because their conversion to Christianity had been forced upon them, whether they had been Zoroastrians or Manichaens, or whatever before that.

Now, getting back to the thread, too bad, in either case, that persons of conscience did not rise up and say that forced conversions are bad even if the Emperor practices it, even if the Church practices it, even if the Imam practices it.



Did not St. Vladimir of Russia force the conversion of thousands (millions) of Russians to Orthodox Christianity?

Rulers choosing for their OWN people in a culture where the ruler is seen as a sort of benevolent father for the whole tribe or nation and whose authority and position allows him to choose for his people as a beloved leader and for them to follow his choice as beloved followers is quite different from conquering another leader's beloved people and forcing them into a foreign belief.

« Last Edit: January 25, 2013, 01:02:42 AM by BrotherAidan » Logged
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« Reply #59 on: January 27, 2013, 02:54:49 AM »

Thank you all for the comments. I have been lax in my forum visiting lately. However, it may be good to take breaks of that kind. I find the more time on spend discussing religion on the Internet, the more confused I become.

Seeing more of the CCC in context helps. I need to read the whole thing through at some point. For now, it sits in pristine condition on my shelf.

In a way, I am reluctant to disparage the RCIA program at my parish. When I hear the horrors others have endured, a few confusing statements about conscience seem to pale in comparison. The sermons at mass are orthodox, and the building is about as beautiful as the Spirit of Vatican II will allow. The FSSP celebrate the TLM every Sunday evening at a nearby parish, so we may move in that direction someday.

I wish I could be Orthodox, I believe I should be Catholic, and I wish I didn't have to choose. Was there choosing in 19th century Russia?
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« Reply #60 on: January 27, 2013, 04:16:42 AM »

I have been participating in a Catholic RCIA class for the past few months (round two, after a previous attempt several years ago).  In the class, it has been brought up by the instructors and assistants that Catholics are obliged to follow their informed consciences, even if their conscience urges them to violate Church teaching.  I have been doing some studying on this issue, as I do not believe that is an accurate representation of Church teaching.

What does Orthodoxy teach about the role of conscience?  If one believes a Church teaching is false, can one claim the guidance of conscience, and then proceed how they wish?

Thank you.

This is probably one of the most un-Catholic things I have ever heard.  Every Catholic I know says the opposite and places Church teaching way above their own ideas.
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« Reply #61 on: January 27, 2013, 04:44:54 AM »

I have been participating in a Catholic RCIA class for the past few months (round two, after a previous attempt several years ago).  In the class, it has been brought up by the instructors and assistants that Catholics are obliged to follow their informed consciences, even if their conscience urges them to violate Church teaching.  I have been doing some studying on this issue, as I do not believe that is an accurate representation of Church teaching.

What does Orthodoxy teach about the role of conscience?  If one believes a Church teaching is false, can one claim the guidance of conscience, and then proceed how they wish?

Thank you.

This is probably one of the most un-Catholic things I have ever heard.  Every Catholic I know says the opposite and places Church teaching way above their own ideas.
"One's own ideas" is not identical to "one's conscience". But your point about not encouraging people to disobey Church teaching, is well taken.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2013, 04:46:06 AM by Jetavan » Logged

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« Reply #62 on: January 28, 2013, 05:17:49 PM »

Hi all. Interesting thread (I didn't see it in November, so I read it all today).

I might have to write my goodbye letter here soon too.

Does anyone think anymore?

Some of these threads lately are embarrassingly trite.

Regardless of how you decide things it is always in virtue of your conscious once it is at a reflective level.

The Church is no one's conscious as such once subjectivity is in play. People might allow "the Church" (whatever that means to them, the Priest they decide to listen to, the part of the Bible they think is relevant, the Patristic literature they find to be helpful) to inform their decisions, but in the end the radical openness of subjectivity means that for all people, they are choosing.

Long-time readers who know that you and I have butted heads once or twice in the past, may be surprised to hear that I think this is one of the best posts on this thread.

Why does a person follow church teaching, if not because of conscience?
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« Reply #63 on: January 28, 2013, 05:20:05 PM »

I have been participating in a Catholic RCIA class for the past few months (round two, after a previous attempt several years ago).  In the class, it has been brought up by the instructors and assistants that Catholics are obliged to follow their informed consciences, even if their conscience urges them to violate Church teaching.  I have been doing some studying on this issue, as I do not believe that is an accurate representation of Church teaching.


What are the references to this teaching?

If one has done one's best to inform the conscience, then one is morally obligated to follow the conscience, even if the conscience is objectively in error.

"Moral theology has attempted to convey the traditional doctrine regarding the primacy of conscience by referring to it as the proximate norm, the ultimate and supreme subjective measure of the goodness or evil of what we do. The force of this is that a correct conscience always obliges us to follow it. But it also means that, even if, because of unavoidable lack of knowledge, our conscience is erroneous, it still remains the immediate norm or measure of the morality of our action and must be followed, or at least not acted against.

St. Thomas Aquinas supports what he says on this point by a couple of rather startling illustrations. Not to have extramarital sex, he says, can be mistakenly seen as a bad thing. In this case one does wrong in refraining because one would then be prepared to choose what is seen as evil. For the same reason it would be wrong for someone, he says, to believe in Jesus Christ when this is erroneously apprehended as a bad thing. In doing so in either case, according to St. Thomas and the tradition of the Church, one would commit sin."

Do you have the citation from the Summa on that?
Footnote 11: Summa Theologiae I-II, I9, 5.

Who wrote that footnote?
Publication date?
Check the link in the quote; the whole paper is there.

I no longer have my copies of Summa.

It seems like Brian Lewis took St. Thomas way out of context. That is the problem with modern theologians. Orthodox Theologians are those who pray.

I like it!
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« Reply #64 on: January 29, 2013, 12:05:05 AM »


I was hoping to be Frog.
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« Reply #65 on: January 31, 2013, 10:10:44 AM »

Thank you all for the comments. I have been lax in my forum visiting lately. However, it may be good to take breaks of that kind. I find the more time on spend discussing religion on the Internet, the more confused I become.

Seeing more of the CCC in context helps. I need to read the whole thing through at some point. For now, it sits in pristine condition on my shelf.

In a way, I am reluctant to disparage the RCIA program at my parish. When I hear the horrors others have endured, a few confusing statements about conscience seem to pale in comparison. The sermons at mass are orthodox, and the building is about as beautiful as the Spirit of Vatican II will allow. The FSSP celebrate the TLM every Sunday evening at a nearby parish, so we may move in that direction someday.

I wish I could be Orthodox, I believe I should be Catholic, and I wish I didn't have to choose. Was there choosing in 19th century Russia?

In a way, I'm jealous of those like you who can join Orthodoxy without leaving Catholicism.
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« Reply #66 on: February 14, 2013, 09:47:43 AM »

Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation of the See of Rome today during a consistory during which three canonizations were also announced.

In his statement to the cardinals present at the consistory, the Holy Father said: "After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry."
« Last Edit: February 14, 2013, 09:47:51 AM by Jetavan » Logged

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« Reply #67 on: February 14, 2013, 02:11:02 PM »


Parlez vous Francais?  Grin
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« Reply #68 on: February 14, 2013, 02:12:12 PM »

Thank you all for the comments. I have been lax in my forum visiting lately. However, it may be good to take breaks of that kind. I find the more time on spend discussing religion on the Internet, the more confused I become.

Seeing more of the CCC in context helps. I need to read the whole thing through at some point. For now, it sits in pristine condition on my shelf.

In a way, I am reluctant to disparage the RCIA program at my parish. When I hear the horrors others have endured, a few confusing statements about conscience seem to pale in comparison. The sermons at mass are orthodox, and the building is about as beautiful as the Spirit of Vatican II will allow. The FSSP celebrate the TLM every Sunday evening at a nearby parish, so we may move in that direction someday.

I wish I could be Orthodox, I believe I should be Catholic, and I wish I didn't have to choose. Was there choosing in 19th century Russia?

In a way, I'm jealous of those like you who can join Orthodoxy without leaving Catholicism.

C'mon PeterJ--you *know* very well you can be completely orthodox as a Catholic  Wink.
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« Reply #69 on: February 14, 2013, 05:46:08 PM »

For a Catholic construal of the primacy of conscience, see this article by John Henry Newman.
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