Finally, argumentation appealing to the obligation to follow one's own conscience cannot legitimate dissent. This is true, first of all, because conscience illumines the practical judgment about a decision to make, while here we are concerned with the truth of a doctrinal pronouncement. This is furthermore the case because while the theologian, like every believer, must follow his conscience, he is also obliged to form it. Conscience is not an independent and infallible faculty. It is an act of moral judgement regarding a responsible choice. A right conscience is one duly illumined by faith and by the objective moral law and it presupposes, as well, the uprightness of the will in the pursuit of the true good (Instruction, 38).
Friday, November 10, 2006
The Role of Conscience
Many Catholic theologians justify dissenting from Church teaching by asserting that they must first follow their conscience. Here's a passage from the Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian that is relevant to that issue.