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
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." In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he
Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others,
enslavement to one's passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of
conscience, rejection of the Church's authority and her teaching, lack of
conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of
judgment in moral conduct.
If -- on the contrary -- this 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 and evil, a privation, a disorder.
One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience.
A good and pure conscience is enlightened by true faith, for charity
proceeds at the same time "from a pure heart and a good conscience and
sincere faith." "The more a correct conscience prevails, the more do persons
and groups turn aside from blind choice and try to be guided by objective
standards of moral conduct."
-- Catechism of the Catholic Church
paragraphs 1790 - 1794
Create a clean heart in me, O God. (Psalm 51)
This is the fifth part of a series during Lent on conscience, taken from
the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Next week: The right to