The word conscience is perhaps the most abused word in Catholicism and since it is such a broad subject, I'm not even going to address genuine situations of culpability and conscience; that is to say, I'm not addressing the instances in this blog where conscience truly is a legitimate factor in decreasing culpability to sin, for instance those victims of sexual abuse who left the Church. The point is that deformity of conscience is not a license to sin.
There is a heterodoxy frequently encountered by the faithfully, namely, that conscience is what man makes it. This is a rather convenient heresy for those who seek to destroy the Church, because herein is the idea that each person is granted the power to impose upon himself a subjective body of morals, which he is obliged to observe.
The gravity of this error is profound; by it we see all sorts of allowances for sin in the Church, but not only within the Church. Those without the Church of the Apostles suffer as well from this insidious heresy, because the Catholic Church is the moral authority of Western Civilization. Amongst ourselves we see people admitted to the Eucharist who live in a morally unacceptable manner. For instance, the cohabiting are given the Eucharist, sexually and emotionally active homosexuals are admitted to the Feast, those who support abortion and homosexual marriage are admitted to the Feast, and others of such a similar sort are allowed to receive the Eucharist as well. All of them receive against the prohibitions of the Church. And if anyone points out this profanation of the sacrament they are met with the charge that they are un-Christlike and uncharitable, where upon they are told," Who are you to judge?! It is a matter of conscience!"
This error seems most often amongst the laity to be born of a species of arrogant ignorance and amongst the priesthood a virulent desire for subversion of sound doctrine. It is important, therefore, to educate and reprove if possible all such people gently at first and severely if necessary. The object that is hidden in this heresy and in ignorance is the true substance of the conscience. On the one hand, some people being deceived by themselves or others who propound error, do not know what the conscience is; even further, they are not certain of what is concomitant to the conscience. Others, still, know very well what the conscience is and take whichever means and occasions present themselves to stymie the understanding of what the conscience truly is in the minds of the faithful.
In this fashion, the latter confuse sound doctrine and heterodoxy seeking to make a profit. The profit they seek to bring about through this perversion is to accomplish the peace of Christ through their own so-called logic. They suppose wrongly that if anything may be part of conscience, then nothing will be judged. They seek to let everyone off the hook, so that they themselves escape. They seek to stop the violence between good and evil by neutralizing them both, through making morality out to be wholly subjective. They strive to make God acceptable to man, instead of making man acceptable to God, which is the end of the Eucharist that is the source and summit of our faith.
However, you will all know and be sure that they are in error and do not hold the opinion of the Apostolic See. There is one truth; indeed the truth is a singularity. Christ says of Himself," I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by Me." If we desire to be sure about the nature of the truth we have but to look at God. We do not give assent to multiple gods, but instead one Holy God. In the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church it teaches us that God is One, but He is not solitary. Therefore, the truth is infinitely voluminous and at the same time simple, but not varied; the truth is a singularity.
Further, we know that God is not made up of a sum of parts so as to make Him dissolute if it were possible. Created things are made up of a sum of parts, but God is not created and therefore is One in fact. In this manner you should be able to know what is the truth and what is the lie. The heretic says that the conscience is the voice of the man, it is his own judgment of his actions. Much the otherwise, the Church teaches that the conscience is a moral law which man did not impose upon himself, but rather is a grace given to him by God. The Church teaches that the conscience is the inmost part of a man where God whispers to Him behind a veil. The Church says further that the man who listens closely to his conscience hears the voice of God and not that of himself.
So, who will you believe? The one who seeks to save the flesh of a sinner a little pain by deflecting judgment by saying that all consciences are subjective and are crafted by our unique observations and experiences? Or the Church who with the magesterium seeks to save the sinner's soul and tells us emphatically that the conscience is God speaking to us true judgments?
The bible tells us that we are made in the image of God. In this teaching we see why we are drawn to the Good and convicted by it. The conscience is the metronome in man which makes him act in accordance with God. True conscience is God's discernment. Therefore, the man who acts in perfect accord with the conscience God gave him does not offend God. Since his fall, man has experienced a deformity of conscience; herein, his conscience is materially deformed and muted to varying extents. He does not hear the voice of God with perfect clarity, he cannot discern perfectly which portion is divine and which is not.
To write off sin and the effects of sin upon the human soul on account of man's deformity is precisely what those in error intend to do. They seek to suggest that God is content with ignorance, that God is sufficed and pleased with deformity, accepting of evil. But we know from scripture that nothing evil shall abide or endure in the presence of God; it cannot come before Him. This heresy makes twins of its evil.
Firstly, it seeks to negate the work of Christ, the very purpose and necessity of the Incarnation. If man in his deformity and depravity is already acceptable to God, then where is the atonement of Christ? Do they make him out to be a mere man, a hyper-prophet? What possible purpose does Christ crucified have if their heterodox position is true? None at all.
Secondly, they seek to make the deformed conscience of fallen man equal with the perfect conscience of the Second Adam. According to those who teach this error, God is equally pleased with the conscience of the heathen and the saint. Thus, it follows necessarily that they say that God and man are equal by holding on the same level their separate products which are the perfect and deformed conscience. By this they make man out to be a god unto himself, becoming idolaters.
St. Paul speaks about these corrupters and the corrupted in the first chapter of the Book of Romans. He exposes those who weave such lies, gives proofs of the conscience and what it truly is, and shows the consequences of those who reject the gift of conscience and corroborating knowledge for their own vanity:
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving. unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them."
Do not let those who are mistaken and those who are heretics mute you out and shame you by telling you that you are uncharitable when you stand by Holy Mother Church and her teaching in regard to offenses, abuses, and undeserved allowances. When you hear people say that all kinds of evil must be permitted and wholly ignored because it is a private matter of conscience, be ready to correct them charitably at first and sternly if necessary. We must all strive to perfect our conscience by coming under the yoke of the Church's teaching and moral authority, not being rebellious and perverse seeking to reconcile the Church who is one with Christ to ourselves, but seeking to reconcile ourselves to the Church who is one with Christ. If we seek to reconcile the Church to us, then we seek to make the Bride of Christ a whore. She will not commit adultery and those who compel her to do so will be punished.
Live at peace with the teachings of Christ. Be convinced and seek to be convinced. Christianity is hard and we all fail; that's what confession is for. But beware of honeyed words like," It's ok. It's a matter of conscience." As the Psalmist says," If a righteous man strikes me it is a kindness, but let not the oil of the wicked anoint my head." We can't afford to lean on the crutch of heresy. It seems like every time a Catholic struggles unsuccessfully with a sin or a teaching of the Church all the sudden someone magically pops up like a fairy godmother and says," Good news! It's a matter of conscience! So, don't sweat it!" as if to say," Don't worry about it, it's not important, because of the state of your conscience. So, no matter what you do, DO NOT make any changes or strive for conversion... and you'll be o.k." It is precisely this lie that is destroying the Church today. Be on guard against the easy path, be on guard against what you want to hear when the going gets tough. The grace of God is your strength. God bless you.
"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~