Challenge Grant: Our Boosters will match donations up to $45,000. We have $36,934 to go. Please donate!
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Appeals to 'conscience' weakened by rise of relativism

Catholic World News - September 13, 2011

When Church leaders appeal for government to recognize the rights of the individual conscience, Hadley Arkes remarks, they risk creating confusion, because the contemporary world does not recognize the proper meaning of the term:

The understanding of “conscience” has been deflated in our current law, along with the understanding of “religion.” John Paul II reminded us forcefully that “conscience” involves an appeal to an objective set of moral norms outside ourselves. The trend in the law, however, has been to accept as claims of conscience any beliefs personally and intensely held.

At one time the government recognized the link between conscience and faith, so that a “conscientious objector” was required to demonstrate a religious reason for refusing military service. But now any personal belief receives the same treatment, and individuals claim that they are obligated “in conscience” to perform acts (such as abortion) that others regard as profoundly immoral.

Arkes concludes: “We are flying an important banner when we unfurl the cause of “conscience,” but we are flying that banner in a culture that no longer understands us as we understand ourselves.”

Additional sources for this story
Some links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Our Fall Campaign
Progress toward our year-end goal ($125,313 to go):
$150,000.00 $24,687.05
84% 16%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

There are no comments yet for this item.

Fall 2014 Campaign
Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

The Church Moves On, Slowly 7 hours ago
Is Cardinal Kasper losing his grip? 11 hours ago
The Pope is not the problem October 23
Do not confuse sacramental discipline and Catholic doctrine. October 23
Ignatius Press into the Breach: Trumping the Kasper Proposal October 22

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Key synod report calls for 'gradualism' in Church response to irregular family situations CWN - October 13
As synod concludes, bishops issue message, approve document; Pope weighs in CWN - October 20
Cardinal Parolin: UN must protect innocents from Islamic State CWN - September 30
Synod of Bishops opens with Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica CWN - October 6