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Statement of Catholic Theology Teachers on Conscience and Faith

Statement of Catholic Theology Teachers on Conscience and Faith

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Published by CBCP for Life

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Published by: CBCP for Life on Aug 30, 2012
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Statement of Catholic Theology Teachers on Conscience and FaithAugust 28, 2012The Feast Day of St. Augustine, patron saint of theologians
We, the undersigned, speak only on our own behalf as Catholic theology teachers, andspeak in no capacity either for Ateneo de Manila University or for its Theology Department,or for any other members of the Ateneo community.Conscience allows
God’s voice, not one’s own voice,
to echo in one’s depths (cf. GS
16; CCC 1776). It subjectively applies transcendent moral norms. This subjectivity meansthat we apply the transcendent moral law within the given situation whose details,motivations, and ends we must discern truthfully and to the best of our ability (cf. CCC1780). Thus conscience involves the apprehension of transcendent truth, and is never simplya matter of one point of view versus another. For the well-formed Catholic, thesetranscendent moral truths are transmitted in the Tradition of the Church and are taught by itsMagisterium (cf. CCC 2032-2036). Thus a good conscience is truthful and seeks the right,and a well-formed Catholic conscience seeks guidance for doing right in the authoritativeteachings of the Church (cf. CCC 1783). But should any figure urge one, as a Catholic, to goagainst these transcendent norms which one has received and in which one has been well-formed, then
it is better to disregard that figure than to disregard one’s
Catholic conscience.The preceding points are not difficult to grasp. They do not mean that faithfulCatholic morality is unthinking. On the contrary, life often confronts us with what seem to beunbridgeable gaps between what we know is the ideal and what appear to be the reasonableoptions before us. The temptation is to believe that in these situations transcendent faith isuseless. But the well-formed Catholic conscience has been formed in the light of the Word of God and in the contemplation of the Cross (cf. CCC 1785). The pierced side of Jesus Christconfronts us in a radical way with both our brokenness as human beings and our dignity ascreatures made for God in
God’s image
(cf. DCE 12). Thus it is faith that comes tounderstand most profoundly that the space between the ideal and its application is the arenafor extreme mercy and compassion. As Catholics we believe that it is precisely in thesesituations where the light of Church teaching in its full range helps us most towards takingfull responsibility for our personhood and in moving towards what is truly good (cf. BenedictXVI,
 Light of the World 
: 117-119). For us as Catholics who are searching for solutions to theproblems of the Philippines, it means exercising our conscience to full capacity in the light of faith, not against faith.We observe, however, that in the wake of public statements released in 2008 and justrecently in connection with the issue of the RH Bill, an erroneous understanding of whatbeing a Catholic in good conscience means has been and is still being disseminated. Thiserroneous understanding is premised on an erroneous understanding of conscience itself. Inthis erroneous understanding, conscience is reduced simply to being
one’s point of view,

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