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Old 29th July 2010, 09:40 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 12,584
Default conscience and sincerity

.080. If your conscience is based on love, faith, and hope (which includes faith in the teachings of Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium), then your sincere reasonable decisions on what is moral in particular circumstances are in good conscience, and are without actual sin.

If your conscience includes some limited degree of insincerity, or some limited degree of negligence in seeking moral truth, then your moral decisions might not be entirely in good conscience.

If your conscience includes a substantial degree of insincerity, or if you substantially ignore or reject the search for moral truth in any grave matter, then your moral decisions are not in good conscience.

The Catechism of Catholic Ethics

Some additional comments. Conscience is often used to justify actions. A person will say that their conscience tells them that a particular act is moral, and that therefore it is not a sin. This point of view is not entirely correct. If your conscience is not sincere, then your act may well be a sin. Even if the act is objectively moral, if you act without sincere concern to do good and to avoid doing evil, then you sin. We are each responsible for developing an informed and sincere conscience. If you are culpably negligent in doing so, then you have sinned by omission. And if you then use your conscience as an excuse to do what the Church teaches is sinful, you are not exonerated by your conscience. To the contrary, your misinformed and uninformed conscience is in effect a witness against you.

Only when our conscience is sincere and properly guided by faith and reason can we say that an act is not an actual sin based on conscience. But no one should be quick to claim that his conscience is sincere and properly-formed, for we are all weak and mortal sinners, with many sins and failings.
Ron Conte
Roman Catholic theologian
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