Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

Natural Law and Conscience: Key to Freedom and to the Integrity of Marriage and the Family

by Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, D.D., J.C.D.


This article is the text of a talk that was to be delivered by Cardinal Burke at the opening of the World Congress of Families in Melbourne during his visit in September 2014. Unfortunately the talk was not able to be delivered.

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Oriens Foundation Incorporated, September 23, 2014


It is my hope that my presence and my words will offer some modest inspiration and strength to your critical mission of safeguarding and fostering the inviolable dignity of human life and the integrity of marriage and the family as the cradle of human life and the first school of its growth and development.

I have chosen to address the irreplaceable part of natural law and conscience in the safeguarding and promoting of the integrity of marriage and family life. First of all, to set the context of the apostolate of marriage and family life today, I will speak about the situation of the Christian in the world of our time and the call to a new evangelization of the Church and of society. Then, I will address the fundamental service of the family in a new evangelization of our culture. Finally, I will address the natural law and the right formation of conscience in the family.

The Christian in the World of Our Time

As Christians today, we find ourselves in a completely secularized society. Pope Saint John Paul II, in his teaching on the mission of the lay faithful in the world, reminded us, in an unmistakable manner, that many today, even in what were once Christian counties, live as if they have no relationship with God or to His plan for us and for our world. He described the contemporary situation of the Church in the world with these words:

Whole countries and nations where religion and the Christian life were formerly flourishing and capable of fostering a viable and working community of faith, are now put to a hard test, and in some cases, are even undergoing a radical transformation, as a result of a constant spreading of an indifference to religion, of secularism and atheism. This particularly concerns countries and nations of the so-called First World, in which economic well-being and consumerism, even if coexistent with a tragic situation of poverty and misery, inspires and sustains a life lived “as if God did not exist”. This indifference to religion and the practice of religion devoid of true meaning in the face of life’s very serious problems, are not less worrying and upsetting when compared with declared atheism.[i]

To remedy the situation, the saintly Pontiff observed, “a mending of the Christian fabric of society is urgently needed in all parts of the world.”[ii]

He hastened to add that, if the remedy is to be achieved, the Church Herself must be evangelized anew. Fundamental to understanding the radical secularization of our culture is to understand also how much the secularization has entered into the life of the Church. In the words of Pope John Paul II, “[b]ut for this [the mending of the Christian fabric of society] to come about what is needed is to first remake the Christian fabric of the ecclesial community itself present in these countries and nations.”[iii]

In a similar vein, Pope Benedict XVI, in his 2010 Christmas Address to the Roman Curia, reflecting on the grave evils which are destroying us as individuals and as a society, and which have generated a culture marked predominantly by violence and death, described a relativism in contemporary moral theology, called proportionalism or consequentialism, which has generated profound confusion and outright error regarding the most fundamental truths of the moral law.[iv] It has led to a situation in which, in his words, “[m]orality is replaced by a calculus of consequences, and in the process it ceases to exist.”[v] If, therefore, the irreplaceable moral order, which is the way of our freedom and happiness, is to be restored, we must address with clarity and steadfastness the error of moral relativism, proportionalism and consequentialism, which permeates our culture and has also entered, as Pope Benedict XVI reminded us, into the Church.

To confront this ideology, Pope Benedict XVI urged a new study of the teaching of Pope John Paul II in his Encyclical Letter Veritatis Splendor, “On the Fundamentals of the Church’s Moral Teaching.” In Veritatis Splendor, Pope John Paul II, in the words of Pope Benedict XVI, “indicated with prophetic force in the great rational tradition of Christian ethos the essential and permanent foundations of moral action.”[vi] Reminding Catholics of the need of man to form his conscience in accord with the moral teaching of the Church, he also reminded them of “our responsibility to make these criteria [the essential and permanent foundations of moral action] audible and intelligible once more for people today as paths of true humanity, in the context of our paramount concern for mankind.”[vii]

The Christian life, if lived with integrity today, is necessarily countercultural. As Pope John Paul II so frequently reminded us, Christians today are called to a new evangelization of culture. The situation can thus be described: the Gospel has been proclaimed and taken deep root in Christian countries but then has been forgotten. The forgetfulness leads to a hostile reaction, when the truth of the Gospel is once again proclaimed. The faith no longer has deep root in the lives of the successive generations. What is needed then is a new evangelization of the society and culture which, in fact, can no longer be considered Christian. The Christian faith and its practice must be imparted anew, as if for the first time, as it was during the first Christian centuries and at the time of the evangelization of our native lands. The Christian character of the culture is no longer a given, even though it may have been for centuries.

We must respond today with ever greater enthusiasm and energy to Our Lord’s command at His Ascension: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.”[viii] Before the challenges of living the faith in our time, Pope John Paul II recalled to our minds the urgency of Christ’s mandate given to the first disciples and given, no less, to missionaries down the Christian centuries and to us today. He declared:

Certainly the command of Jesus: “Go and preach the Gospel” always maintains its vital value and its ever-pressing obligation. Nevertheless, the present situation, not only of the world but also of many parts of the Church, absolutely demands that the word of Christ receive a more ready and generous obedience. Every disciple is personally called by name; no disciple can withhold making a response: “Woe to me, if I do not preach the Gospel” (1 Cor 9:16).[ix]

The obedience which is fundamental and essential to the new evangelization is also a virtue acquired with great difficulty in a culture which exalts individualism and questions all authority, except the self. Yet, it is indispensable if the Gospel is to be taught and lived in our time.

We take example from the first disciples, from the first missionaries to our native places, and from the host of saintly brethren who have given themselves completely to Christ throughout the Christian centuries, calling upon the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit to purify themselves of any rebellion before God’s will and to strengthen them to do God’s will in all things. Before the great challenge of living the Christian faith today, we, with them, draw courage from the promise with which Our Lord concluded His missionary mandate: “[A]nd lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”[x]

The Fundamental Service of the Family in a New Evangelization

The great challenge which confronts the whole Church confronts, in particular, the Church in the first cell of Her life, the family. It is the challenge which Pope John Paul II described in his Apostolic Letter At the Close of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, “Novo Millennio Ineunte”, as the “high standard of ordinary Christian living.”[xi] Pope John Paul II taught us the extraordinary nature of our ordinary life, because it is lived in Christ and, therefore, produces in us the incomparable beauty of holiness. He declared:

The ways of holiness are many, according to the vocation of each individual. I thank the Lord that in these years he has enabled me to beatify and canonize a large number of Christians, and among them many lay people who attained holiness in the most ordinary circumstances of life. The time has come to re-propose wholeheartedly to everyone this high standard of ordinary Christian living: the whole life of the Christian community and of Christian families must lead in this direction.[xii]

Seeing in Christian families the fruit of the daily conversion of life by which the family members strive to meet the “high standard of ordinary Christian living,” the culture will discover the great mystery of ordinary life upon which God daily showers His ceaseless and immeasurable love. Clearly, the “mending of the Christian fabric of society” can only come about by the remaking of “the Christian fabric of the ecclesial community,” beginning with the individual in his family, at home.[xiii]

Pope John Paul II taught us clearly that the way to meet the challenge of the “high standard of ordinary Christian living” is “found in the Gospel and in the living Tradition.”[xiv] He reminded us that it is same program of Christian living as it has always been in the Church, the program of holiness of life.[xv] Regarding Christian marriage and the family, and the call to evangelization, in his 1981 Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the family, Familiaris Consortio, he declared that “the Christian family, in fact, is the first community called to announce the Gospel to the human person during growth and to bring him or her, through a progressive education and catechesis, to full human and Christian maturity.”[xvi]

Noting the multiple and grievous attacks on marriage and the family in our time, he stressed the importance of witnessing to the truth about marriage and the family, so that the family may evangelize the whole of society. He declared:

At a moment of history in which the family is the object of numerous forces that seek to destroy it or in some way to deform it, and aware that the well-being of society and her own good are intimately tied to the good of the family, the Church perceives in a more urgent and compelling way her mission of proclaiming to all people the plan of God for marriage and the family, ensuring their full vitality and human and Christian development, and thus contributing to the renewal of society and of the People of God.[xvii]

Recognizing the irreplaceable evangelizing power of the family in the whole of society, the Church is even more impelled to devote Herself to safeguarding and fostering the truth of married and family life.

In my own homeland, as may be the case here, there is a predominance of the phenomenon of secularization, although there also remain individual Catholic families of deep religious faith, practice of the faith and devotion, and, where a number of these families are nearby one another, they form a certain social and spiritual fraternity. All of us, no matter what may be our state in life, should foster the solidarity among families who are all striving to hand on the faith and its practice with integrity.

In our Christian witness and apostolate, we must give special attention to the sanctity of marriage, to the fidelity, indissolubility and procreativity of the marital union. Catholic home life is necessarily a sign of contradiction in today’s society. We must inspire courage in Catholic couples to give the witness to the truth about marriage and family which our culture so sorely needs. We must help Christian homes to be the domestic Church, according to the ancient description, the first place in which the Catholic faith is taught, celebrated and lived. The whole Church must help parents to live generously and faithfully their vocation to the married life. We must be especially attentive to families who are in trouble, so that even in their suffering they may enjoy the graces of unity and peace of the Holy Family of Nazareth.

In his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, Pope John Paul II underlined the irreplaceable service of the family in a new evangelization. Making reference to the teaching of his predecessor, Pope Paul VI, on evangelization,[xviii] he declared:

To the extent in which the Christian family accepts the Gospel and matures in faith, it becomes an evangelizing community. Let us listen again to Paul VI: The family, like the Church, ought to be a place where the Gospel is transmitted and from which the Gospel radiates. In a family which is conscious of this mission, all the members evangelize and are evangelized. The parents not only communicate the Gospel to their children, but from their children they can themselves receive the same Gospel as deeply lived by them. And such a family becomes the evangelizer of many other families, and of the neighbourhood of which it forms part.[xix]

It is clear that, if a new evangelization is not taking place in marriages, in the family, then it will not take place in the Church or in society, in general. At the same time, marriages transformed by the Gospel are the first and most powerful agent of the transformation of society by the Gospel.

The witness of the family is, therefore, at the heart of a new evangelization. Making reference to the teaching of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council on the reality of the family “as the domestic church” or the little church (ecclesiola),[xx] the Catechism of the Catholic Church declared:

In our time, in a world often alien and even hostile to faith, believing families are of primary importance as centers of living, radiant faith. For this reason, the Second Vatican Council, using an ancient expression, calls the family the Ecclesia domestica. It is in the bosom of the family that parents are by word and example … first heralds of the faith with regard to their children. They should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each child, fostering with special care any religious vocation.[xxi]

We see, in fact, in an unmistakable way the evangelizing power of marriage and the family in the primary duty of parents to help their children to know their vocation in life and to embrace it with an undivided heart. The fundamental evangelizing power of parents in what pertains to the vocation to the married life is evident.

At the heart of marriage and of family life is divine worship and prayer, which give form to every other aspect of life. Sacred worship, the highest and most perfect expression of our life in Christ, is at the heart of family life. In the worship of God, in prayer, and in devotion the family receives the power to evangelize and, at the same time, evangelizes the world most powerfully. Once again making reference to the teaching of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, the Catechism of the Catholic Church declares:

It is here that the father of the family, the mother, children, and all members of the family exercise the priesthood of the baptized in a privileged way by the reception of the sacraments, prayer and thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, and self-denial and active charity. Thus the home is the first school of Christian life and a school for human enrichment. Here one learns endurance and the joy work of work, fraternal love, generous – even repeated – forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and the offering of one’s life.[xxii]

The family experiences its deepest being, when it is at prayer, especially at divine worship. From prayer and divine worship, every aspect of the personal life of each member of the family and of the family itself flows. The family at prayer and at worship manifests Christ alive in the Church most powerfully and, therefore, attracts many other families to Christ in His Church.

One of the critical evangelizing fruits of prayer and worship in the family is the witness to the Gospel of Life. Pope John Paul II taught us how essential to a new evangelization is proclaiming the Gospel of Life, and how the family is the first locus of the proclamation. The situation of secularization has become so grave, that many no longer understand life to be the gift of God and, therefore, no longer respect the inviolable dignity of human life, created in the image and likeness of God[xxiii] and redeemed by the Most Precious Blood of God the Son Incarnate.[xxiv] In a new evangelization regarding human life, the central and irreplaceable service of the family is most clearly seen.

The fundamental locus of the proclamation of the Gospel of Life is the family, in which the children witness the Gospel of Life in the relationship of their parents with one another and in the relationship of the parents with them. Such witness pertains not only to the beginning of human life, in the correct understanding and living of human sexuality, but also to the end of life in the acceptance of human suffering as the way of unconditional love of others, in accord with the teaching of the Lord which Saint Paul masterfully articulated in the Letter to the Colossians.[xxv] The Gospel of Life is integral to the spiritual worship at the heart of the family. Lifting up their hearts to the Heart of God, parents and children are purified and strengthened to live their relationships with each other in pure and selfless love. Pope John Paul II made this clear in his Encyclical Letter On the Gospel of Life, declaring:

As part of the spiritual worship acceptable to God (cf. Rom 12:1), the Gospel of life is to be celebrated above all in daily living, which should be filled with self-giving love for others. In this way, our lives will become a genuine and responsible acceptance of the gift of life and a heartfelt song of praise and gratitude to God who has given us this gift. This is already happening in the many different acts of selfless generosity, often humble and hidden, carried out by men and women, children and adults, the young and the old, the healthy and the sick.[xxvi]

In no. 92 of the Encyclical Letter, Pope John Paul II treated at length what he called the “decisive responsibility” of the family for the proclamation of the Gospel of Life.[xxvii] He illustrated at some length the critical role of the family not only in teaching the welcome due to new human life but also in teaching the meaning of suffering and death. As he observed, “[t]he family has a special role to play throughout the life of its members, from birth to death.”[xxviii]

Pope John Paul II, quoting from his homily on the occasion of the beatification of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, the heroic apostle of life of the present time, gave special attention to “brave mothers who devote themselves to their own family without reserve, who suffer in giving birth to their children and who are ready to make any effort, to face any sacrifice, in order to pass on to them the best of themselves.”[xxix] Without in any way diminishing the dignity of the husband and father in the family, the Gospel of Life in the present time particularly requires a new understanding and lived appreciation of Christian wives and mothers.

Later on in the Encyclical Letter, Pope John Paul II devoted special attention to the “unique and decisive” role of women in the new evangelization and, therefore, in the proclamation of the Gospel of Life.[xxx] He declared:

It depends on them to promote a “new feminism” which rejects the temptation of imitating models of “male domination”, in order to acknowledge and affirm the true genius of women in every aspect of the life of society, and overcome all discrimination, violence and exploitation.[xxxi]

Reflecting upon motherhood, he further observed:

A mother welcomes and carries in herself another human being, enabling it to grow inside her, giving it room, respecting it in its otherness. Women first learn and then teach others that human relations are authentic if they are open to accepting the other person: a person who is recognized and loved because of the dignity which comes from being a person and not from other considerations, such as usefulness, strength, intelligence, beauty or health. This is the fundamental contribution which the Church and humanity expect from women. And it is the indispensable requisite for an authentic cultural change.[xxxii]

It is clear that the new evangelization regarding the inviolable dignity of innocent human life, from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death, depends upon a new proclamation of the truth regarding woman and motherhood.[xxxiii] That proclamation takes place first and foremost in the family.

In this regard, it is important to make clear the relationship between a new evangelization regarding human life and the practice of the virtues of purity, chastity and modesty. Respect for human life is related essentially to respect for the integrity of marriage and the family. The attack on the innocent and defenseless life of the unborn has its origin in an erroneous view of human sexuality, which attempts to eliminate, by mechanical or chemical means, the essentially procreative nature of the conjugal act. This error maintains that the artificially altered act retains its integrity. The claim is that the act remains unitive or loving, even though the procreative nature of the act has been radically violated. In fact, it is not unitive, for one or both of the partners withholds an essential part of the gift of self, which is the essence of the conjugal union. The so-called “contraceptive mentality” is essentially anti-life. Many forms of what is called contraception are in fact abortifacient, that is, they destroy a life which has already been conceived and begun to develop.

The manipulation of the conjugal act, as Pope Paul VI courageously observed, has led to many forms of violence against marriage and family life.[xxxiv] Through the spread of the contraceptive mentality, especially among the young, human sexuality is no longer seen as the gift of God which draws a man and a woman together in a bond of lifelong and faithful love, crowned by the gift of new human life, but, rather, as a tool for personal gratification.[xxxv] Once sexual union is no longer seen to be procreative by its very nature, human sexuality is abused in ways that are profoundly harmful and indeed destructive of individuals and of society itself. One has only to think of the devastation which is daily wrought in our world by the multi-million dollar industry of pornography, or the incredibly aggressive homosexual agenda which can only result in the profound unhappiness and even despair of those affected by it and in the destruction of society, as it has always done historically. Fundamental to the transformation of Western culture is the proclamation of the truth about the conjugal union in its fullness and the correction of the contraceptive thinking which fears life, which fears procreation.

In our society, there is a confusion about the meaning of human sexuality which is reaping a harvest of profound personal unhappiness often to the point of the breakdown of the family, of the corruption of children and young people, and, ultimately, of self-destruction. Disordered sexual activity, sexual activity outside of marriage, and the constant and potent false messages about who we are as man and woman served up by the communications media are the signs of a desperate need of a new evangelization. We must witness to the distinct gifts of man and woman to be placed at the service of God and His holy people through a chaste life. Christian marriage is the primary locus of that critical witness. Through sound family life our society will be transformed. Without sound family life, it will never be transformed.

It is instructive to note that Pope Benedict XVI, in his Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, made special reference to Pope Paul VI’s Encyclical Letter Humanae Vitae, underscoring its importance “for delineating the fully human meaning of the development that the Church proposes.”[xxxvi] Pope Benedict XVI makes clear that the teaching in Humanae Vitae is not simply a matter of “individual morality,” declaring:

Humanae Vitae indicates the strong links between life ethics and social ethics, ushering in a new area of magisterial teaching that has gradually been articulated in a series of documents, most recently John Paul II’s Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae.[xxxvii]

Pope Benedict XVI made clear the essential part which a right understanding of human sexuality has in true human development.

In treating the question of procreation, Pope Benedict XVI underscored the critical importance of the right understanding of human sexuality, marriage and the family. He wrote:

The Church, in her concern for man’s authentic development, urges him to have full respect for human values in the exercise of his sexuality. It cannot be reduced merely to pleasure or entertainment, nor can sex education be reduced to technical instruction aimed solely at protecting the interested parties from possible disease or the “risk” of procreation. This would be to impoverish and disregard the deeper meaning of sexuality, a meaning which needs to be acknowledged and responsibly appropriated not only by individuals but also by the community.[xxxviii]

The restoration of respect for the integrity of the conjugal act is essential to the future of Western culture, the advancement of a culture of life. In the words of Pope Benedict XVI, it is necessary “once more to hold up to future generations the beauty of marriage and the family, and the fact that these institutions correspond to the deepest needs and dignity of the person.”[xxxix] Correspondingly, Pope Benedict XVI noted that “states are called to enact policies promoting the centrality and integrity of the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman, the primary vital cell of society, and to assume responsibility for its economic and fiscal needs, while respecting its essentially relational character.”[xl]

The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that “[s]o-called moral permissiveness rests on an erroneous conception of human freedom” and that “the necessary precondition for the development of true freedom is to let oneself be educated in the moral law.”[xli] As is clear from the above considerations, individual freedom and the freedom of society in general depend upon a fundamental education in the truth about human sexuality and the exercise of that truth in a pure and chaste life. The Catechism of the Catholic Church goes on to observe: “Those in charge of education can reasonably be expected to give young people instruction respectful of the truth, the qualities of the heart, and the moral and spiritual dignity of man.”[xlii] For the Christian, this entails education in holiness of life and in the respect owed to the inviolable dignity of self, body and soul, and of others as one’s self. Such education must first take place in the family, and then be sustained in the institutions which work with parents for the Christian education of their children.

For the sake of our young people, we must give particular attention to the fundamental expression of our culture which is education. Good parents and good citizens must be attentive to the curriculum which schools are following and to the life in the schools, in order to assure that their children, our children, are being formed in the human and Christian virtues and are not being deformed by indoctrination in the confusion and error concerning the most fundamental truths of human life and of the family, which will lead to their slavery to sin and, therefore, profound unhappiness, and to the destruction of culture. Today, for example, we sadly find the need to speak about “traditional marriage,” as if there were another kind of marriage. There is only one kind of marriage as God has given it to us from the Creation and as Christ has redeemed it by His saving Passion and Death.

In forming consciences correctly, let us not fail to present to our youth the lives of children and young people who attained heroic sanctity and are particularly strong examples and intercessors for our children, for example, Saint Tarcisius, Saint Stanislaus Kostka, Saint John Berchmans, Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, Saint Dominic Savio, Saint Maria Goretti, Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, and Blessed Peter To Rot. These youthful patrons are a powerful help to children and young people in growing in the virtues of purity and modesty by which they are prepared to embrace their vocation in life with fidelity and perseverance. In Australia, Saint Mary of the Cross and Saint Peter Chanel are powerful sources of inspiration and intercession for young people. Through our communion with the saints, we come to understand in what lies our true greatness, namely faithful and enduring trust in God’s promises.

In setting forth the truth about the conjugal union for our youth, let us not fail to reflect on the lives of those who attained heroic sanctity in the marriage life. I think, for instance, of Saints Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Let us also contemplate all that it meant for them to remain true to the faithful and enduring covenant of divine love in the married life, as God had planned it from the beginning. In the life of this holy couple, we see reflected the splendor of the truth about the union of one man and one woman in faithful, enduring and procreative love. No doubt, Our Lord had in mind the example of his own grandparents when he responded to the Pharisees who were testing him about the possibility of divorce. Our Lord answered their question by teaching the observance of the eternal law according to which God has created man and woman:

Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one”? So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.[xliii]

When His disciples questioned Christ about the demand of God’s law for the married, our Lord responded that, with the call to the married life, God gives the grace to live in faithful, enduring and procreative love: “Not all men can receive this precept, but only those to whom it is given.”[xliv]

In advancing the respect for the inviolable dignity of innocent human life and for the integrity of marriage and the family, proper attention must also be given to the laws which govern the life of society. While the transformation of hearts is the most fundamental means of the new evangelization, Catholics and all persons of good will must be attentive to promote laws which safeguard the dignity of human life and respect the integrity of marriage and the family. At the same time, one cannot ignore the irreplaceable role which law plays in culture. Pope John Paul II observed:

Although laws are not the only means of protecting human life, nevertheless they do play a very important and sometimes decisive role in influencing patterns of thought and behavior. I repeat once more that a law which violates an innocent person’s natural right to life is unjust and, as such, is not valid as a law. For this reason I urgently appeal once more to all political leaders not to pass laws which, by disregarding the dignity of the person, undermine the very fabric of society.[xlv]

In this regard, involvement in political life is essential to the advancement of the cause of life. Already in his Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, Pope John Paul II had declared:

The social role of families is called upon to find expression also in the form of political intervention: families should be the first to take steps to see that the laws and institutions of the State not only do not offend but support and positively defend the rights and duties of the family. Along these lines, families should grow in awareness of being “protagonists” of what is known as “family politics” and assume responsibility for transforming society; otherwise families will be the first victims of the evils that they have done no more than note with indifference.[xlvi]

The Holy Father repeated the same exhortation to families in Evangelium Vitae.[xlvii]

Natural Law and the Formation of the Conscience in the Family

So often, today, a notion of tolerance of ways of thinking and acting contrary to the moral law seems to be the interpretative key for many Christians. This notion is not securely grounded in the moral tradition, yet it tends to dominate our approach to the extent that we end up claiming to be Christian while tolerating ways of thinking and acting which are diametrically opposed to the moral law revealed to us in nature and in the Sacred Scriptures. The approach, at times, becomes so relativistic and subjective that we do not even observe the fundamental logical principle of non-contradiction, that is, that a thing cannot both be and not be at the same time. In other words, certain actions cannot at the same time be both true to the moral law and not true to it.

In fact, charity alone must be the interpretive key of our thoughts and actions. In the context of charity, tolerance means unconditional love of the person who is involved in evil but firm abhorrence of the evil into which the person has fallen.

Fundamental to the Catholic life of virtue is the understanding of human nature and conscience. Critical to the deplorable cultural situation in which we find ourselves is the loss of a sense of nature and of conscience. Pope Benedict XVI addressed the question of the loss of a sense of nature and conscience, with respect of the foundations of law, in his address to the Bundestag during his Pastoral Visit to Germany in September of 2011. Taking leave from the story of the young King Solomon on his accession to the throne, he recalled to political leaders the teaching of the Holy Scriptures regarding the work of politics. God asked King Solomon what request he wished to make as he began to rule God’s holy people. The Holy Father commented:

What will the young ruler ask for at this important moment? Success – wealth – long life – destruction of his enemies? He chooses none of these things. Instead, he asks for a listening heart so that he may govern God’s people, and discern between good and evil (cf. 1 Kg 3:9).[xlviii]

The story of King Solomon, as Pope Benedict XVI observed, teaches what must be the end of political activity and, therefore, of government. He declared: “Politics must be a striving for justice, and hence it has to establish the fundamental preconditions for peace…. To serve right and to fight against the dominion of wrong is and remains the fundamental task of the politician.”[xlix]

Pope Benedict XVI then asked how we know the good and right which the political order and specifically the law are to safeguard and promote. While he acknowledged that in many matters “the support of the majority can serve as a sufficient criterion,”[l] he observed that such a principle is not sufficient “for the fundamental issues of law, in which the dignity of man and of humanity is at stake.”[li] Regarding the very foundations of the life of society, positive civil law must respect “nature and reason as the true sources of law.”[lii] In other words, one must have recourse to the natural moral law which God has inscribed upon every human heart.

Referring to a text of Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans[liii] regarding the natural moral law and its primary witness, the conscience, Pope Benedict XVI declared: “Here we see the two fundamental concepts of nature and conscience, where conscience is nothing other than Solomon’s listening heart, reason that is open to the language of being.”[liv] Further illustrating the sources of law in nature and reason by making reference to the popular interest in ecology as a means of respecting nature, he observed:

Yet I would like to underline a point that seems to me to be neglected, today as in the past: there is also an ecology of man. Man too has a nature that he must respect and that he cannot manipulate at will. Man is not merely self-creating freedom. Man does not create himself. He is intellect and will, but he is also nature, and his will is rightly ordered if he respects nature, listens to it and accepts himself for who he is, as one who did not create himself. In this way, and in no other, is true human freedom fulfilled.[lv]

Reflecting upon European culture which developed “from the encounter between Jerusalem, Athens and Rome—from Israel’s faith in God, the philosophical reason of the Greeks and Roman legal thought,”[lvi] he concluded: “In the awareness of man’s responsibility before God and in the acknowledgment of the inviolable dignity of every single human person, it [European culture] has established criteria of law: it is these criteria that we are called to defend at this moment in our history.”[lvii] While Pope Benedict XVI’s reflection is inspired by a concern for the state of law in the European culture, his conclusions regarding the foundations of law and, therefore, of order in society are clearly universal in application.

What Pope Benedict XVI observed regarding the foundations of law in the concepts of nature and conscience points to the fundamental work of education, namely, to develop in students “the listening heart” which strives to know the law of God and to respect it by development in the life of the virtues. Such education is preeminently a presupposition of the education offered at a Catholic university, not to mention of a worthy seminary formation.

As Christians, we must help society to recognize a certain order which permits the individual to pursue his own good, while at the same time respecting the good of others who form a community with him. The good is defined by the order found in the nature of persons and things, by which the same persons and things are directed to objective ends. In truth, the individual must understand that his own good cannot be served while the good of others and the order of creation are violated. The individual cannot achieve his proper end – and, therefore, happiness – apart from respect for the proper end and ultimate happiness of his neighbor, and for the proper end of the things with which he interacts. Life in common is otherwise reduced to the tyranny of whatever group is able to prevail by winning the support of a majority.

Without the recognition of the common good, to which the individual good is essentially related and which it serves, society breaks down and is soon beset by the violence and destruction which are the inevitable fruits of unbridled individualism and self-pursuit. The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council described the common good precisely in the context of the formation of a political community:

Individuals, families, and the various groups which make up the civil community, are aware of their inability to achieve a truly human life by their own unaided efforts; they see the need of a wider community in which each one will make a specific contribution to an even broader implementation of the common good. For this reason, they set up various forms of political communities. The political community, then, exists for the common good: this is its full justification and meaning and the source of its specific and basic right to exist. The common good embraces the sum total of all those conditions of social life which enable individuals, families, and organizations to achieve complete and efficacious fulfillment.[lviii]

The English word “fulfillment” translates the original Latin word, perfectio. Fulfillment does not signify some self-defined condition but rather the perfection of the individual or group, according to man’s proper nature and end.

The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council also taught the necessary relationship of the legal and juridical order of a society with the common good and, therefore, the moral order. It declared:

It follows that political authority, either within the political community as such or through organizations representing the state, must be exercised within the limits of the moral order and directed toward the common good (understood in the dynamic sense of the term) according to the juridical order legitimately established or due to be established. Citizens, then, are bound in conscience to obey. Accordingly, the responsibility, the dignity, and the importance of those who govern is clear.[lix]

The objectivity of the common good, as it is discovered by right reason in the natural order, determines the good order of a nation.[lx]

Children and young people must be educated to safeguard the common good which rests on the reality of the nature and end of the persons and of the things with whom or with which they relate. It is essential that citizens be educated in the virtues which help them to understand the common good and to obey the law which safeguards it. Bishops and priests, their principal co-workers, are called to be the first teachers of these fundamental truths in the Church and in society in general. The fulfillment to which the common good is directed is not self-defined condition but rather the perfection of the individual or group according to man’s proper nature and end.[lxi]

In his Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict XVI takes up the question of the common good which, in his words, “is sought not for its own sake, but for the people who belong to the social community and who can only really and effectively pursue their good within it.”[lxii] Dedication to the common good, as Pope Benedict XVI makes clear, is an obligation imposed by both justice and charity. He concludes: “The more we strive to secure a common good corresponding to the real needs of our neighbours, the more effectively we love them.”[lxiii]

The thoroughly galvanized anti-life and anti-family agenda of our time advances, in large part, because of a lack of attention and information among the general public. The pervasive mass media, its principal promoter, confuse and corrupt minds and hearts, and dull consciences to the law written by God upon every human heart. In his Encyclical Letter on the Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul II declared:

What is urgently called for is a general mobilization of consciences and a united ethical effort to activate a great campaign in support of life. All together, we must build a new culture of life: new, because it will be able to confront and solve today’s unprecedented problems affecting human life; new, because it will be adopted with deeper and more dynamic conviction by all Christians; new, because it will be capable of bringing about a serious and courageous cultural dialogue among all parties. While the urgent need for such a cultural transformation is linked to the present historical situation, it is also rooted in the Church’s mission of evangelization. The purpose of the Gospel, in fact, is “to transform humanity from within and to make it new.” Like the yeast which leavens the whole measure of dough (cf. Mt 13:33), the Gospel is meant to permeate all cultures and give them life from within, so that they may express the full truth about the human person and about human life.[lxiv]

What Pope John Paul II affirmed about the mobilization of consciences regarding the inviolability of innocent human life surely applies as well and as strongly to the mobilization of consciences regarding the integrity of marriage and family life.

Pope John Paul II did not fail to note that such efforts must begin with “the renewal of a culture of life within Christian communities themselves.”[lxv] The Church herself must address the situation of so many of her members who, even though they may be active in Church activities, “end up by separating their Christian faith from its ethical requirements regarding life, and thus fall into moral subjectivism and certain objectionable ways of acting.”[lxvi] The words of Pope Francis on May 12, 2013 to the participants in the second annual March for Life in Rome confirmed the importance of a major public manifestation for the proclamation of the Gospel of Life.[lxvii]

The first constitutive element of the moral law is the truth about the inviolability of innocent human life and the integrity of the conjugal union of man and woman, which is written upon every human heart. The first precept of the natural moral law is the safeguarding and promotion of human life, and the second is the respect for the integrity of the inclination to the conjugal union.[lxviii] At the very beginning of his Encyclical Letter on the Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul II made clear the relationship of the Church’s teaching regarding human life to the moral law which can be known by reason. He declared:

The Church knows that this Gospel of life, which she has received from her Lord, has a profound and persuasive echo in the heart of every person – believer and non-believer alike – because it marvellously fulfils all the heart’s expectations while infinitely surpassing them. Even in the midst of difficulties and uncertainties, every person sincerely open to truth and goodness can, by the light of reason and the hidden action of grace, come to recognize in the natural law written in the heart (cf. Rom 2:14-15) the sacred good of human life from its very beginning until its end, and can affirm the right of every human being to have this primary good respected to the highest decree. Upon the recognition of this right, every human community and the political community itself are founded.[lxix]

What then is the relationship between the natural moral law and the Church’s moral teaching? While God has first revealed to every human heart the truth about human life by the mystery of the Creation, He has perfectly revealed the truth in all of its splendor by the mystery of the Redemptive Incarnation of His only-begotten Son. What is more, the coming of God the Son as man into the world, His saving Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension, and His abiding presence in the Church through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit give man the grace to live fully in accord with the truth which he first knows by reason.

Pope John Paul II explained the relationship thus:

Through the words, the actions and the very person of Jesus, man is given the possibility of “knowing” the complete truth concerning the good of human life. From this “source” he receives, in particular, the capacity to “accomplish” this truth perfectly (cf. Jn 3:21), that is, to accept and fulfil completely the responsibility of loving and serving, of defending and promoting human life. In Christ, the Gospel of life is definitively proclaimed and fully given. This is the Gospel which, already present in the Revelation of the Old Testament, and indeed written in the heart of every man and woman, has echoed in every conscience “from the beginning”, from the time of creation itself, in such a way that, despite the negative consequences of sin, it can also be known in its essential traits by human reason.[lxx]

The human conscience, if it has not been corrupted by grave confusion and error, naturally recognizes the inviolable dignity of every human life and commands that it be safeguarded and promoted, and it recognizes the integrity of the conjugal union of man and woman, and commands that it be respected.

Essentially connected with the discussion of the natural moral law is the correct understanding of conscience. Pope John Paul II, relating the intent of his Encyclical Letter, drew particular attention to the relationship of the Gospel of Life with conscience. He wrote:

I wish to meditate upon once more and proclaim the Gospel of life, the splendour of truth which enlightens consciences, the clear light which corrects the darkened gaze, and the unfailing source of faithfulness and steadfastness in facing the ever new challenges which we meet along the path.[lxxi]

He reflected upon the situation of the conscience which “is today subjected, also as a result of the penetrating influence of the media, to an extremely serious and mortal danger: that of confusion between good and evil, precisely in relation to the fundamental right to life.”[lxxii] He did not fail to warn about the gravity of the situation, declaring:

When conscience, this bright lamp of the soul (cf. Mt 6:22-23), calls “evil good and good evil” (Is 5:20), it is already on the path to the most alarming corruption and the darkest moral blindness.[lxxiii]

At the same time, the very existence of the conscience gives hope of a transformation of the situation. Pope John Paul II observed:

And yet all the conditioning and efforts to enforce silence fail to stifle the voice of the Lord echoing in the conscience of every individual: it is always from this intimate sanctuary of the conscience that a new journey of love, openness and service to human life can begin.[lxxiv]

Notwithstanding pervasive confusion and error regarding the fundamental truth of the inviolable dignity of human life and the integrity of marriage and the family, the Gospel of Life corresponds always to the deepest desire of man, which is to know and live the truth in love.

It is the conscience, the voice of God speaking to souls, which is, in the words of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, “the aboriginal Vicar of Christ.”[lxxv] As such, the conscience is ever attuned to Christ Himself Who instructs and informs it through His Vicar, the Roman Pontiff, and the Bishops in communion with the Roman Pontiff. Blessed Cardinal Newman observed that conscience “is a messenger of him, who, both in nature and in grace, speaks to us behind a veil, and teaches and rules us by his representatives.”[lxxvi]

Today, one must be attentive to a false notion of conscience, which would actually use the conscience to justify gravely sinful acts. In his 2010 Christmas Address to the Roman Curia, Pope Benedict XVI reflected at some length on the notion of conscience in the writings of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, contrasting it with a false notion of conscience which is pervasive in our time.

He described the Church’s understanding of conscience, as faithfully and brilliantly taught by the Blessed Cardinal Newman, with these words:

In modern thinking, the word “conscience” signifies that for moral and religious questions, it is the subjective dimension, the individual, that constitutes the final authority for decision. The world is divided into the realms of the objective and the subjective. To the objective realm belong things that can be calculated and verified by experiment. Religion and morals fall outside the scope of these methods and are therefore considered to lie within the subjective realm. Here, it is said, there are in the final analysis no objective criteria. The ultimate instance that can decide here is therefore the subject alone, and precisely this is what the word “conscience” expresses: in this realm only the individual, with his intuitions and experiences, can decide. Newman’s understanding of conscience is diametrically opposed to this. For him, “conscience” means man’s capacity for truth: the capacity to recognize precisely in the decision-making areas of his life – religion and morals – a truth, the truth. At the same time, conscience – man’s capacity to recognize truth – thereby imposes on him the obligation to set out along the path towards truth, to seek it and to submit to it wherever he finds it. Conscience is both capacity for truth and obedience to the truth which manifests itself to anyone who seeks it with an open heart.[lxxvii]

Conscience, therefore, does not set individuals apart from one another as arbiters of what is right and good, but unites them in the pursuit of the one truth, ultimately Our Lord Jesus Christ Who is the only arbiter of the right and good, so that their thoughts, words and actions put that truth into practice.

In the same Christmas discourse, Pope Benedict XVI clarified an often misunderstood passage of Blessed Cardinal Newman, which is used, in fact, to promote the erroneous subjective notion of conscience. Our Holy Father observed:

In support of the claim that Newman’s concept of conscience matched the modern subjective understanding, people often quote a letter in which he said – should he have to propose a toast – that he would drink first to conscience and then to the Pope. But in this statement, “conscience” does not signify the ultimately binding quality of subjective intuition. It is an expression of the accessibility and the binding force of truth: on this its primacy is based. The second toast can be addressed to the Pope because it is his task to demand obedience to the truth.[lxxviii]

In other words, there can never be a contrast between what the conscience demands of us and what the truth of the faith, as enunciated by the Holy Father, demands of us. The conscience, in fact, is drawing us into an ever deeper understanding of the truth and adherence to it in our thoughts, words and actions.

A new evangelization of the family, of the Church and of society should be marked by a profound confidence in the human heart upon which the moral law has been inscribed. At the same time, it should be ready to refute the false claim that unconditional respect for the inviolable dignity of innocent human life and for the integrity of the conjugal union is merely a confessional matter, and to illustrate how it is at the very foundation of the common good.

Later, in the same Christmas Address, Pope Benedict XVI recalled his “encounter with the world of culture in Westminster Hall,”[lxxix] during his pastoral visit to the United Kingdom, during which he reflected “on the proper place of religious belief within the political process.”[lxxx] Taking inspiration from the example of Saint Thomas More, he addressed directly “the ethical foundations of civil discourse.”[lxxxi] As a service to culture in general, he set forth the Catholic understanding of the matter with these words:

The central question at issue, then, is this: where is the ethical foundation for political choices to be found? The Catholic tradition maintains that the objective norms governing right action are accessible to reason, prescinding from the content of revelation. According to this understanding, the role of religion in political debate is not so much to supply these norms, as if they could not be known by non-believers – still less to propose concrete political solutions, which would lie altogether outside the competence of religion – but rather to help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles.[lxxxii]

Pope Benedict XVI noted that the role of religion in public discourse “is not always welcomed,” for various reasons which can also include “distorted forms of religion, such as sectarianism and fundamentalism.”[lxxxiii]

He observed, however, that such distortions do not justify the exclusion of religion from public discourse, for “reason too can fall prey to distortions, as when it is manipulated by ideology, or applied in a partial way that fails to take account of the dignity of the human person.”[lxxxiv] What remains necessary and true is the right relationship of faith and reason. He concluded:

This is why I would suggest that the world of reason and the world of faith – the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief – need one another and should not be afraid to enter into a profound and ongoing dialogue, for the good of our civilization.”[lxxxv]

Religion, he continued, “is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to the national conversation.”[lxxxvi] In the light of the irreplaceable role of religion in public life, he expressed his “concern at the increasing marginalization of religion, particularly of Christianity, that is taking place in some quarters, even in nations which place a great emphasis on tolerance.”[lxxxvii]

He then gave a telling description of some of the more troubling manifestations of the effort to alienate religion from the public forum. His words which I now quote shed light on the absurdity and indeed moral perversity of a public order which fails to respect the proper role of religion:

There are those who would advocate that the voice of religion be silenced, or at least relegated to the purely private sphere. There are those who argue that the public celebration of festivals such as Christmas should be discouraged, in the questionable belief that it might somehow offend those of other religions or none. And there are those who argue – paradoxically with the intention of eliminating discrimination – that Christians in public roles should be required at times to act against their conscience. These are worrying signs of a failure to appreciate not only the rights of believers to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, but also the legitimate role of religion in the public square.[lxxxviii]

Pope Benedict XVI concluded with an invitation to safeguard and foster the right relationship of faith and reason, which is essential to the pursuit of the common good, of the good of society.

In his 2010 Christmas Address, he issued the same invitation with even greater urgency, declaring:

This fundamental [moral] consensus derived from the Christian heritage is at risk wherever its place, the place of moral reasoning, is taken by the purely instrumental rationality of which I spoke earlier. In reality, this makes reason blind to what is essential. To resist this eclipse of reason and to preserve its capacity for seeing the essential, for seeing God and man, for seeing what is good and what is true, is the common interest that must unite all people of good will. The very future of the world is at stake.[lxxxix]

There can be no question of the urgency with which Pope Benedict XVI was calling Catholics and all persons of good will, in accord with a new evangelization so steadfastly advanced by Pope John Paul II, to reverse the decline of western Christian culture by engaging public discourse with the fundamental truths of the moral law, as taught to us by reason and illuminated by the Catholic faith.

In his Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict XVI addressed the same concern precisely in terms of human development, indicating the harm done to society, in general, when religion is excluded from public discourse. He described the deleterious societal effect of two extremes, the exclusion of religion and religious fundamentalism, in these words:

The exclusion of religion from the public square – and, at the other extreme, religious fundamentalism – hinders an encounter between persons and their collaboration for the progress of humanity. Public life is sapped of its motivation and politics takes on a domineering and aggressive character. Human rights risk being ignored either because they are robbed of their transcendent foundation or because personal freedom is not acknowledged. Secularism and fundamentalism exclude the possibility of fruitful dialogue and effective cooperation between reason and religious faith. Reason always stands in need of being purified by faith: this also holds true for political reason, which must not consider itself omnipotent…. Any breach in this dialogue comes only at an enormous price to human development.[xc]

To the degree that respect for the essential relationship between faith and reason is restored, to that degree there is good hope for the future of a culture which, otherwise, can only continue to decline.


We live in a time when the fundamental truth of marriage is under a ferocious attack which seeks to obscure and sully the sublime beauty of the married state as God intended it from the Creation. Divorce is commonplace in society, as is the pretension to remove from the conjugal union, by mechanical or chemical means, its procreative essence. And now, society has gone even further in its affront to God and His law by claiming the name of marriage for liaisons between persons of the same sex.

Even within the Church, there are those who would obscure the truth of the indissolubility of marriage in the name of mercy, who condone the violation of the conjugal union by means of contraception in the name of pastoral understanding, and who, in the name of tolerance, remain silent about the attack on the very integrity of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. There are even those, too, who deny that the married receive a particular grace to live heroically in faithful, enduring and life-giving love, while Our Lord Himself has assured us that God gives to the married the grace to live daily in accord with the truth of their state in life.

In our day, our witness to the splendor of the truth about marriage must be limpid and heroic. We must be ready to suffer, as Christians have suffered down the ages, to honor and foster Holy Matrimony. Let us take as our examples Saint John the Baptist, Saint John Fisher and Saint Thomas More, who were martyrs in defending the integrity of the fidelity and indissolubility of marriage. Before the confusion and error about Holy Matrimony, which Satan is sowing so widely in our society today, let us follow their example and let us invoke their intercession, so that the great gift of married life and love will be ever more revered in the Church and in society.

Thank you for your kind attention. May God bless you.

Raymond Leo Cardinal BURKE

[i] “Integrae regiones nec non nationes in quibus anteacto tempore religio et vita christiana florebant, quae vivacis ac operosae fidei communitates excitabant, nunc rebus adversis premuntur ac non raro radicitus sunt transformatae, gliscentibus indifferentismo, saecularismo et atheismo. Agitur praesertim de regionibus et nationibus «Primi Mundi» qui dicitur, in quibus oeconomica prosperitas et consumendarum rerum cupiditas, quamquam etiam terribilibus paupertatis et miseriae adiunctis commixtae, inhiant ac proclamant ita esse vivendum «etsi Deus non daretur». At religiosa indifferentia et practica Dei completa neglegentia ad vitae quaestiones licet graviores exsolvendas non minus affligunt animum nec minus videntur evertentes quam proclamatus atheismus; ….” Ioannes Paulus PP. II, Adhortatio Apostolica Christifideles Laici, “De vocatione et missione Laicorum in Ecclesia et in mundo,” 30 Decembris 1988, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 81 (1989), 454, n. 34. [Hereafter, CL]. English translation: Pope John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici, 30 December 1988, “On the Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World” (Vatican City State: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, nd), p. 95, no. 34. [Hereafter, CLEng].

[ii] “… consortium humanum spiritu christiano ubique denuo imbuendum est.” CL, 455, no. 34. English translation: CLEng, p. 96, no. 34.

[iii] “… [i]d [consortium humanum spiritu christiano imbuendum] tamen possible erit, si christianus communitatum ipsarum ecclesialium contextus, quae his in regionibus et nationibus degunt, renovetur.” CL, 455, no. 34. English translation: CLEng, p. 96, no. 34.

[iv] Cf. Ioannes Paulus PP. II, Litterae Encyclicae Veritatis Splendor, “De quibusdam quaestionibus fundamentalibus doctrinae moralis Ecclesiae”, 6 Augusti 1993, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 85 (1993), 1193-1194, n. 75.

[v] “La morale viene sostituita da un calcolo delle conseguenze e con ciò cessa di esistere.” Benedictus PP. XVI, Allocutio, “Omina Nativitatis novique Anni Curiae Romanae significantur”, 20 Decembris 2010, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 103 (2011), 37. [Hereafter, ChristmasAddress2010]. English translation: Pope Benedict XVI, “Benedict XVI’s Christmas greeting to the College of Cardinals, the Roman Curia and the Governorate: Resolved in faith and in doing good,” L’Osservatore Romano, weekly edition in English, 22-29 December 2010, p. 13. [Hereafter, ChristmasAddress2010Eng].

[vi] “… indicò con forza profetica nella grande tradizione razionale dell’ethos cristiano le basi essenziali e permanenti dell’agire morale.” ChristmasAddress2010, 37. English translation: ChristmasAddress2010Eng, p. 13.

[vii] “… nostra responsabilità rendere nuovamente udibili e comprensibili tra gli uomini questi criteri [le basi essenziali e permanenti dell’agire morale] come vie della vera umanità, nel contesto della preoccupazione per l’uomo, nella quale siamo immersi.” ChristmasAddress2010, 37. English translation: ChristmasAddress2010Eng, p. 13.

[viii] Mt 28, 19.

[ix] “Equidem mandatum Iesu: «Euntes praedicate evangelium» sua vi perpetuo viget ac inoccidue urget: verumtamen praesens rerum conditio, non solummodo in mundo sed in pluribus quoque Ecclesiae partibus, omnino requirit ut Chrisi verbo promptius ac magis dilatato corde obtemperetur; quivis discipulus ita in sua ipsius persona interpellatur, ut nullus se in proprio responso eliciendo retrahere possit: «Vae enim mihi est, si non evangelizavero!» (1 Cor 9, 16). CL, 454, n. 33. English translation: CLEng, p. 94, no. 33.

[x] Mt 28, 20.

[xi] “… «superiorem modum» ordinariae vitae christianae.” Ioannes Paulus PP. II, Epistula Apostolica Novo Millennio Ineunte, “Magni Iubilaei anni MM sub exitum,” 6 Ianuarii 2001, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 93 (2001), 288, n. 31. [Hereafter, NMI]. English translation: Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, “At the Close of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000,” 6 January 2001 (Boston: Pauline Books & Media, 2001), p. 43, no. 31. [Hereafter, NMIEng].

[xii] “Multiplices enim sanctitatis exsistunt viae atque cuiusque congruunt cum vocatione. Grates Domino referimus Nobis quod concessit his proximis annis tot christianos et christianas inter beatos adnumerare ac sanctos, ex quibus plures laici sanctimoniam sunt communissimis in vitae condicionibus adsecuti. Omnibus ergo tempus est iterum firmiter hunc proponere «superiorem modum» ordinariae vitae christianae: ad hanc namque metam conducere debet omnis vita ecclesialis communitatis ac familiarum christianarum.” NMI, 288, n. 31. English translation:NMIEng, p. 43, no. 31.

[xiii] “… consortium humanum spiritu christiano ubique denuo imbuendum est…christianus commmunitatum ipsarum ecclesialium contextus.” CL, p. 455, no. 34. English translation: CLE, p. 96, no. 34.

[xiv] “… quod de Evangelio derivatur semper vivaque Traditione.” NMI, 285, n. 29. English translation: NMIEng, p. 39, no. 29.

[xv] Cf. NMI , 285-288, nn. 29-31.

[xvi] “… christiana enim familia est prima communitas, cuius est Evangelium personae humanae crescent annuntiare eamque progrediente education et catechesis ad plenam maturitatem humanam et christianam perducere.” Ioannes Paulus PP. II, Adhortatio Apostolica Familiaris Consortio, “De Familiae Christianae muneribus in mundo huius temporis,” 22 Novembris 1981, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 74 (1982), 823, n. 2. [Hereafter, FC]. English translation: Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Familaris Consortio, “Regarding the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World,” 22 November 1981 (Vatican City State: Vatican Polyglot Press, nd), p. 4, no. 2. [Hereafter, FCEng].

[xvii] “Hoc tempore historiae, quo familia multis impetitur viribus, eam delere aut saltem deformare nitentibus, Ecclesia, probe conscia salutem societatis suamque ipsius arcte cum fausta condicione familiae conecti, modo vehementiore et urgentiore munus suum percipit omnibus consilium Dei de matrimonio ac familia declarandi, cuius plenum vigorem et promotionem humanam et christianam in tuto collocet, ac sic conferat ad renovationem societatis ipsiusque Populi Dei.” FC, 84, n. 3. English translation: FCEng, pp. 6-7, no. 3.

[xviii] Cf. Paulus PP. VI, Adhortatio Apostolica Evangelii Nuntiandi, “De Evangelizatione in mundo huius temporis,” 8 Decembris 1975, Acta Apostolica Sedis 68 (1976), 60-61, n. 71.

[xix] “Christiana familia, quatenus Evangelium amplectitur et ad maturitatem in fide progreditur, eatenus fit evangelizans communitas. Exaudiamus denuo Paulum VI: «Familia, haud secus atque Ecclesia, habenda est campus, quo affertur et unde diffunditur Evangelium. Quamobrem, apud familiam huius muneris consciam, omnia eiusdem familiae membra evangelizant atque evangelizantur. Parentes non tantum communicant cum filiis Evangelium, sed ab ipsis possunt recipere idem Evangelium penitus vita expressum. Eadem familia Evangelii nuntia fit apud alias multas familias, atque circumstantem, cui inseritur, convictum».” FC, 144, n. 52. English translation: FCEng, p. 97, no. 52.

[xx] “… velut Ecclesia domestica.” Sacrosanctum Concilium Oecumenicum Vaticanum II, Constitutio Dogmatica Lumen Gentium, “De Ecclesia,” 21 Novembris 1964, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 57 (1966), 16, n. 11. English translation: Vatican Council II: The Basic Sixteen Documents, ed. Austin Flannery (Northport, NY: Costello Publishing Company, 1996), p. 16, no. 11.

[xxi] “Nostris diebus, in mundo saepe fidei alieno et etiam hostile, familiae credentes maximi sunt momenti tamquam viventis et elucentis fidei foci. Hac de causa, Concilium Vaticanum II familiam, cum vetere quadam expressione, Ecclesiam domesticam appellat. In familiae sinu, parentes sunt «verbo et exemplo […] pro filiis suis primi fidei praecones, et vocationem unicuique propriam, sacram vero peculiari cura, foveant oportet».” Catechismus Catholicae Ecclesiae (Città del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997), n. 1656. [Hereafter, CCE]. English translation: Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd ed. (Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference, Inc. – Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997), no. 1656. [Hereafter, CCEEng].

[xxii] “Hic, modo praeclaro, sacerdotium baptismale exercetur patris familias, matris, filiorum, omnium familiae membrorum «in sacramentis suscipiendis, in oration et gratiarum action, testimonio vitae sanctae, abnegatione et actuosa caritate». Familia, hoc modo, prima schola vitae christianae et «schola quaedam uberioris humanitatis est». Ibi patientia et laetitiae laboris, amor fraternus, indulgentia generosa, etiam iterate, et praecipue divinus per orationem et propriae vitae oblationem cultus discuntur.” CCE, n. 1657. CCEEng., no. 1657.

[xxiii] Cf. Gen 1, 26-27.

[xxiv] Cf. Rom 5, 9.

[xxv] Cf. Col 1, 24.

[xxvi] “In ratione spiritalis cultus Deo grati (cfr Rom 12, 1), Evangelii vitae celebratio suam postulat effectionem praesertim in cotidiana exsistentia, quae in caritate erga alios agitur atque sui ipsius oblatione. Hac ratione tota nostra exsistentia fiet vera et officii conscia acceptio doni vitae atque sincera grataque laus in Deum qui nobis talem tribuit donationem. Quod iam accidit plurimis in signis donationis, modestae saepe et absconditae, quae primos exhibent actores viros et mulieres, parvulos et adultos, iuvenes et seniors, sanos et aegrotos.” Ioannes Paulus PP. II, Litterae encyclicae Evangelium vitae, “De vitae humanae inviolabili bono”, 25 Martii 1995, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 87 (1995), 498, n. 86. [Hereafter, EV]. English translation: Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae, “On the Value and Inviolability of Human Life,” 25 March 1995 (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1995), p. 152, no. 86. [Hereafter, EVEng].

[xxvii] “… decretoriaresponsalitas.” EV, 505, n. 92. English translation: EVEng, p. 163, no. 92.

[xxviii] “Familia provocatur per totum vitae ipsius sodalium spatium, ab oriente vita ad mortem.” EV, 506, n. 92. English translation: EVEng, p. 164, no. 92.

[xxix] “… «omnium matrum fortium, quae suae familiae sine condicione se dedunt, quae in dolore pariunt filios suos, quaeque expeditae sunt ad quemlibet laborem aggrediendum, ad quodlibet sacrificium obeundum, ut eis referant quidquid optimum in se custodiant».” EV, 498, n. 86. English translation: EVEng, p. 153, no. 86.

[xxx] “… prorsus singulare fortasse et decretorium…” EV, 514, n. 99. English translation: EVEng, p. 176, no. 99.

[xxxi] “… ipsarum enim est promovere «novum feminismum» qui agnoscere valeat et proferre veram indolem femininam in quolibet convictus civilis gestu, quin in temptationem incurratur imitandi exemplaria «cultus nimii virilitatis», dum opera datur, ut omnino quodvis genus amoveatur discriminationis violentiae et abusus.” EV, 514, n. 99. English translation: EVEng, p. 176, no. 99.

[xxxii] “Mater enim excipit secumque fert alterum, ei modum intra se crescendo largitur, spatium tribuit illi ipsum veneratione prosequens in ipsius alteritate. Ita mulier percipit et docet humanum consortium solummodo authenticum esse cum aperitur ad receptionem alterius personae, agnitae et dilectae ob dignitatem quae illi provenit ex eo quod est persona, non vero aliis de causis, uti sunt: commoditas, robur, intellegentia, pulchritudo, valetudo. Hoc est enim praecipuum adiumentum quod Ecclesia humanumque genus a mulieribus exspectant. Haec necessaria est ad authenticam conversionem culturalem praeparatio.” EV, 515, n. 99. English translation: EVEng, p. 177, no. 99.

[xxxiii] At the end of no. 99 of Evangelium vitae, Pope John Paul II devoted “a special word to women who have had an abortion.” Acknowledging the complexity of factors involved in the decision to procure an abortion, the gravity of the evil involved in the act, and the enduring “wound” which the deed leaves in the “heart,” he urged them to have hope, honestly acknowledging what they have done and abandoning themselves with trust to divine mercy, especially by means of the Sacrament of Penance. He reminded them that they in fact “can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life.” Referring to the aborted child, he wrote, in the English version found on the Vatican website: “To the same Father and his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child.” The definitive Latin text reads: “Infantem autem vestrum potestis Eidem Patri Eiusque misericordiae cum spe committere.” (EV, 515, n. 99). The English translation adds to the word “hope” the qualifier “sure”, which is not found in the Latin text. The Latin text does not explain the meaning of “hope” as used in the context.

In an edition of the Latin original published by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana in 1995, there is a different and problematic text which reads: “Tunc percipietis nihil periisse et licebit vobis etiam ab infante vestro veniam petere, qui nunc in Domino vivit.” (Ioannis Pauli PP II, Litterae encyclicae «Evangelium vitae», [Città del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1995]’, p. 123, n. 99). The same text is found in translation in the edition of the English version of Evangelium vitae also printed by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana and used throughout this text. It reads: “You will come to understand that nothing is definitively lost and you will also be able to ask forgiveness from your child, who is now living in the Lord.” (EVEng, 178, no. 99). The text is very problematic inasmuch as it seems to declare as a fact that such children enjoy the Beatific Vision, a position which has virtually no support in the Church’s tradition. While the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in no. 1261, states: “As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them,” it earlier declares, in no. 1257: “The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are ‘reborn of water and the Spirit’.”

[xxxiv] Cf. Paulus PP. VI, Litterae encyclicae Humanae Vitae, “De propagatione humanae prolis recte ordinanda”, 25 Iulii 1968, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 60 (1968), 493-494, n. 17.

[xxxv] Cf. EV, 414-415, n. 13; and 511-512, n. 97.

[xxxvi] “… ut progressionis prorsus humana significatio describatur, quam Ecclesia proponit.” Benedictus PP. XVI, Litterae encyclicae Caritas in Veritate, “De humana integra progressione in caritate veritateque”, 29 Iunii 2009, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 101 (2009), 651, n. 15. [Hereafter, CV]. English translation: Pope Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, “On Integral Human Development in Charity and Truth,” 29 June 2009 (Città del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2009), p. 20, no. 15. [Hereafter, CVEng].

[xxxvii] “Litterae encyclicae «Humanae vitae» solida vincula designant, quae inter vitae ethicam et ethicam socialem intercedunt, magistrale quoddam insinuantes argumentum, quod gradatim variis in documentis auctum est, novissime in Ioannis Pauli II Litteris encyclicis Evangelium vitae.” CV, 651, n. 15. English translation: CVEng, p. 21, no. 15.

[xxxviii] “Ecclesia, cui cordi est verus hominis progressus, monet eum ad plenam valorum observantiam, in sexualitate quoque exercenda: quae ad meram rem hedonisticam ludicramque redigi non potest, sicut educatio sexualis in technicam institutionem coartari non potest, si tantum cura habeatur eos quorum interest arcendi a quodam contagio vel a generandi «periculo». Hoc modo pauperior fieret et altus sexualitatis sensus extenuaretur, qui econtra agnosci et accipi debet cum responsalitate tam singularum personarum quam communitatis.” CV, 680, n. 44. English translation: CVEng, pp. 73-74, no. 44.

[xxxix] “… novis generationibus adhuc proponendi pulchritudinem familiae et matrimonii, congruentiam huiusmodi institutionum cum altioribus postulatis cordis dignitatisque personae.” CV, p. 681, no. 44. CVEng., p. 75, no. 44.

[xl] “… Status vocantur ad normas politicas edendas, praeeminentiam integritatemque familiae promoventes, quae matrimonio nititur unius viri uniusque mulieris, quaeque exstat prima vitalisque societatis cellula, atque in se recipit etiam quaestiones oeconomicas et nummarias, quod ad ipsius necessitudinis indolem attinet.” CV, 681, n. 44. English translation: CVEng, p. 75, no. 44.

[xli] “[i]d, quod morum permissivus animus appellatur, super erroeneum sistit conceptum humanae libertatis.” CCE, n. 2526. English translation: CCEEng, no. 2526.

[xlii] “… haec [humana libertas], ad se aedificandam, eget ut prius se lege morali educari permittat.” CCE, n. 2526. English translation: CCEEng, no. 2526.

[xliii] Mt 19, 4-5.

[xliv] Mt19, 11.

[xlv] “Tametsi leges non unicum sunt instrumentum, quo vita humana defendatur, partes tamen magni momenti explicant, immo praegraves aliquando, in cuiusdam mentis consuetudinisque provectione. Iterum dicimus: norma quae naturalem legem violat ad vitam cuiusdam innocentis pertinentem, est iniusta ideoque legis momentum habere non potest. Quam ob rem fortiter iteramus exhortationem Nostram ad omnes viros politicos ne promulgent leges quae, personae dignitatem neglegentes, funditus ipsam civilem convictionem extenuent.” EV, 503-504, n. 90. English translation: EVEng, p. 160, no. 90.

[xlvi] “Sociale familiae munus etiam ratione politici interventus est procurandum: familias nempe eniti oportet imprimis ut leges institutionesque Civitatis non modo non laedant, verum fulciant ac defendant firmo modo iura familiae necnon officia. Ita profecto familiae magis consciae debent fieri se «primas partes agere» in «re politica familari», quae vocatur, in seque recipere officium transformandae societatis: alioquin erunt familiae illorum malorum veluti victimae primae, quae indifferenti animo solum aspicere voluerunt.” FC, 136, n. 44. English translation: FCEng, p. 85, n. 44.

[xlvii] Cf. EV, 507-508, n. 93.

[xlviii] “Was wird sich der junge Herrscher in diesem Augenblick erbitten? Erfolg – Reichtum – langes Leben – Vernictung der Feinde? Nicht um diese Dinge bittet er. Er bittet: „Verleih deinem Knecht ein hörendes Herz, damit er dein Volk zu regieren und das Gute vom Bösen zu unterscheiden versteht“ (1 Kön 3,9).” Benedictus PP. XVI, Allocutio “Iter apostolicum in Germaniam: ad Berolinensem foederatum coetum oratorum,” 22 Septembris 2011, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 103 (2011), p. 663. [Hereafter, Bundestag]. English translation: L’Osservatore Romano Weekly Edition in English, 28 September 2011, p. 6. [Hereafter, BundestagEng].

[xlix] “Politik muss Mühen um Gerechtigkeit sein und so die Grundvoraussetzung für Frieden schaffen.… Dem Recht zu dienen und der Herrschaft des Unrechts zu wehren ist und bleibt die grundlegend Aufgabe des Politikers.” Bundestag, p. 664. English translation: BundestagEng, p. 6.

[l] “…kann die Mehrheit ein genügendes Kriterium sein.” Bundestag, p. 664. English translation: BundestagEng, p. 6.

[li] “…in den Grundfragen des Rechts, in denen es um die Würde des Menschen und der Menschheit geht.” Bundestag, p. 664. English translation: BundestagEng, p. 6.

[lii] “…Natur und Vernunft als die wahren Rechtsquellen.” Bundestag, p. 665. English translation: BundestagEng, p. 6.

[liii] Cf. Rom 2:14-16.

[liv] “Hier erscheinen die beide Grundbegriffe Natur und Gewissen, wobei Gewissen nichts anderes ist als das hörende Herz Salomons, als die der Sprache des Seins geöffnete Vernunft.” Bundestag, p. 666. English translation: BundestagEng, p. 6.

[lv] “Ich möchte aber nachdrücklich einen Punkt ansprechen, der nach wie vor – wie mir scheint – ausgeklammert wird: es gibt auch eine Ökologie des Menschen. Auch der Mensch hat eine Natur, die er achten muß und die er nicht beliebig manipulieren kann. Der Mensch is nicht nur sich selbst machende Freiheit. Der Mensch macht sich nicht selbst. Er ist Geist und Wille, aber er ist auch Natur, und sein Wille ist dann recht, wenn er auf die Natur achtet, sie hört und such annimmt also der, der er ist und der sich nicht selbst gemacht hat. Gerade so und nur so vollzieht sich wahre menschliche Freiheit.” Bundestag, p. 668. English translation: BundestagEng, p. 7.

[lvi] “…aus der Begegnung von Jerusalem, Athen und Rom – aus der Begegnung zwischen dem Gottesglauben Israels, der philosophischen Vernunft der Griechen und dem Rechtsdenken Roms.” Bundestag, p. 669. English translation: BundestagEng, p. 8 (corrected by the author).

[lvii] “Sie hat im Bewußtsein der Verantwortung des Menschen vor Gott und in der Anerkenntnis der unantastbaren Würde des Menschen, eines jeden Menschen, Maßstäbe des Rechts gesetzt, die zu verteidigen uns in unserer historischen Stunde aufgegeben ist.” Bundestag, p. 669. English translation: BundestagEng, p. 8.

[lviii] “Homines, familiae et varii coetus, qui communitatem civilem constituunt, propriae insufficientiae ad vitam plene humanam instituendam conscii sunt et necessitatem amplioris communitatis percipiunt, in qua omnes, ad commune bonum semper melius procurandum, cotidie proprias vires conferant. Quapropter communitatem politicam secundum varias formas constituunt. Communitas ergo politica propter illud commune bonum exsistit, in quo suam plenam iustificationem et sensum obtinet, et ex quo ius suum primigenum et proprium depromit. Bonum vero commune summam complectitur earum vitae socialis condicionum, quibus homines, familiae et consociationes, suam ipsorum perfectionem plenius atque expeditius consequi possint.” Concilium Oecumenicum Vaticanum II, Constitutio Pastoralis Gaudium et spes, “De Ecclesia in mundo huius temporis,” 7 Decembris 1965, Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 58 (1966), 1095-1096, n. 74. [Hereafter, GS]. English translation: Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, ed. Austin Flannery, O.P., Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 1975, pp. 980-981, no. 74. [Hereafter, GSEng].

[lix] “Sequitur item auctoritatis politicae exercitium sive in communitate ut tali, sive in institutis rem publicam repraesentantibus, semper intra fines ordinis moralis ad effectum deducendum esse, ad commune bonum – et quidem dynamice conceptum – procurandum, secundum ordinem iuridicum legitime statutum vel statuendum. Tunc cives ad obedientiam praestandam ex conscientia obligantur. Exinde vero patet responsibilitas, dignitas et momentum eorum, qui praesunt.” GS, 1096, n. 74. English translation: GSEng, p. 981, no. 74.

[lx] Cf. GS, 1096, n. 74. English translation: GSEng, p. 981, no. 74.

[lxi] Cf. GS, 1095-1096, n. 74. English translation: GSEng. p. 1096, n. 74.

[lxii] “Non…per se ipsum conquisitum, sed personarum gratia, quae communitatem socialem participant atque in ea tantum reapse et efficaciter bonum suum consequi possunt.” CV, 645, n. 7. English translation: CVEng, p. 9, no. 7.

[lxiii] “Eo efficacius proximus amatur, quo magis bonum commune colitur, quod veris necessitatibus occurrat.”CV, p. 645, n. 7. English translation: CVEng, p. 10, no. 7.

[lxiv] “Quam primum inducantur necesse est generalis conscientiarum motus moralisque communis nisus, qui excitare valeant validum sane opus ad vitam tuendam: omnibus nobis simul coniunctis nova exstuenda est vitae cultura: nova, quae scilicet possit hodiernas de vita hominis ineditas quaestiones suscipere atque solvere; nova, utpote quae acriore et alacriore ratione omnium christianorum conscientiam permoveat; nova demum, quae accommodata sit ad gravem animosamque culturalem suscitandam comparationem cum omnibus. Huius culturalis conversionis necessitas coniungitur cum aetatis nostrae historica rerum condicione, at praesertim inhaeret in ipso evangelizandi munere quod proprium est Ecclesiae. Evangelium enim eo spectat «ut perficiat interiorem mutationem» et «humanitatem novam efficiat»; est velut fermentum quo pasta tota fermentatur (cfr Mt 13, 33), atque, qua tale, perfundere debet omnes culturas easque intus pervadere, ut integram declarent de homine deque eius vita veritatem.” EV, 509, n. 95. English translation: EVEng, pp. 168-169, no. 95.

[lxv] “… vitae cultura renovanda intra ipsas christianas communitates.” EV, 509, n. 95. English translation: EVEng, p. 169, no. 95.

[lxvi] “… seiunctionem quandam inferunt inter christianam fidem eiusque moralia circa vitam postulata, progredientes hac ratione ad moralem quendam subiectivismum adque vivendi mores qui probari non possunt.” EV, 509-510, n. 95. English translation: EVEng, p. 169, no. 95.

[lxvii] Cf. Papa Francesco, “Rispetto per la vita fin dal concepimento,” L’Osservatore Romano, 13-14 maggio 2013, p. 7. English translation: Pope Francis, “Respect for life from conception,” L’Osservatore Romano, weekly edition in English, 15 May 2013, p. 7.

[lxviii] Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I-II, q. 94, art. 2.

[lxix] “Novit Ecclesia illud Evangelium vitae sibi a Domino suo commendatum intus resonare permovereque unumquemque hominem sive credit sive non, quandoquidem admirabili modo ei respondet, dum eius simul expectationes infinita quadam ratione excedit. Valet enim quilibet homo, inter difficultates licet ac dubitationes, ad veritatem tamen ex animo apertus adque bonitatem, adiutus rationis ipsius lumine et arcana gratiae impulsione, pervenire eo quidem usque ut legem naturalem in corde inscriptam (cfr Rom 2, 14-15) agnoscat, sacrum vitae humanae bonum a primis initiis ad finem ipsum, necnon ius cuiusque adserat hominis ut hoc suum principale bonum summopere observatum videat. In eiusdem ideo iuris agnitione hominum nititur consortio ipsaque politica communitas.” EV, 402, n. 2. English translation: EVEng, pp. 4-5, n. 2.

[lxx] “Ideo ex verbo, ex operibus, ex ipsa Iesu persona facultas tribuitur homini ut omnem veritatem de humanae vitae bono «cognoscere possit»; et ex illo «fonte» peculiari modo provenit facultas adamussim talem veritatem faciendi (cfr Io 3, 21), id est, suscipiendi necnon funditus exsequendi officium vitam humanam amandi, ei serviendi, eamque tuendi et promovendi. In Christo enim absolute nuntiatur et plene traditur illud Evangelium vitae quod iam traditum in revelatione Veteris Testamenti, immo scriptum quodam modo in ipso corde cuiusque hominis et mulieris, in unaquaque conscientia morali resonat «ab initio», hoc est ab ipsa creatione, ita ut, adversis peccati vinculis non officientibus, suis in essentialibus rationibus humana quoque mente percipi possit.” EV, 434, n. 29. English translation: EVEng, p. 53, n. 24.

[lxxi] “… iterum Evangelium vitae ponderare cupimus atque enuntiare, quod veritatis splendor est conscientias irradians, praeclarum lumen sanans obscuratum prospectum, fons firmitudinis ac fortitudinis inexhaustus nos hortans ut novis semper obviam procedamus nostro in itinere occurrentibus provocationibus.” EV, 407, n. 6. English translation: EVEng, p. 11, no. 6.

[lxxii] “… etiam ob instrumentorum socialis communicationis praepotentes virtutes, pergravi mortiferoque periculo hodie subditur: permixtionis scilicet boni malique, quod attinet ad idem fundamentale vitae ius.” EV, 427, n. 24. English translation: EVEng, p. 43, no. 24.

[lxxiii] “Cum conscientia, lucens scilicet animae oculus (cfr Mt 6, 22-23), dicit «malum bonum et bonum malum» (Is 5, 20), iter persollicitae depravationis et caliginosissimae moralis caecitatis iam est ingressa.” EV, 428, n. 24. English translation: EVEng, p. 43, no. 24.

[lxxiv] “Verum condiciones et conatus ad silentium iniungendum Domini vocem includere non valent quae in cuiusque hominis conscientia insonat: hoc ipso ex intimo conscientiae sacrario novum amoris iter explicari potest, ad vitam humanam accipiendam et ministrandam.” EV, 428, n. 24. English translation: EVEng, p. 43, no. 24.

[lxxv] John Henry Cardinal Newman, “Letter to the Duke of Norfolk,” V, in Certain Difficulties felt by Anglicans in Catholic Teaching II, (London: Longmans Green, 1885), p. 248. Quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1778.

[lxxvi] Ibid., p. 248.

[lxxvii] “Nel pensiero moderno, la parola «coscienza» significa che in materia di morale e di religione, la dimensione soggettiva, l’individuo, costituisce l’ultima istanza della decisione. Il mondo viene diviso negli ambiti dell’oggettivo e del soggettivo. All’oggettivo appartengono le cose che si possono calcolare e verificare mediante l’esperimento. La religione e la morale sono sottratte a questi metodi e perciò sono considerate come ambito del soggettivo. Qui non esisterebbero, in ultima analisi, dei criteri oggettivi. L’ultima istanza che qui può decidere sarebbe pertanto solo il soggetto, e con la parola «coscienza» si esprime, appunto, questo: in questo ambito può decidere solo il singolo, l’individuo con le sue intuizioni ed esperienze. La concezione che Newman ha della coscienza è diametralmente opposta. Per lui «coscienza» significa la capacità di verità dell’uomo: la capacità di riconoscere proprio negli ambiti decisivi della sua esistenza – religione e morale – una verità, la verità. La coscienza, la capacità dell’uomo di riconoscere la verità, gli impone con ciò, al tempo stesso, il dovere di incamminarsi verso la verità, di cercarla e di sottomettersi ad essa laddove la incontra. Conscienza è capacità di verità e obbedienza nei confronti della verità, che si mostra all’uomo che cerca col cuore aperto.” ChristmasAddress2010, 39-40. English translation: ChristmasAddress2010Eng, p. 14.

[lxxviii] “Per poter asserire l’identità tra il concetto che Newman aveva della coscienza e la moderna comprensione soggettiva della coscienza, si ama far riferimento alla sua parola secondo cui egli – nel caso avesse dovuto fare un brindisi – avrebbe brindato prima alla coscienza e poi al Papa. Ma in questa affermazione, «coscienza» non significa l’ultima obbligatorietà dell’intuizione soggettiva. È espressione dell’accessibilità e della forza vincolante della verità: in ciò si fonda il suo primato. Al Papa può essere dedicato il secondo brindisi, perché è compito suo esigere l’obbedienza nei confronti della verità.” ChristmasAddress2010, 40-41. English translation: ChristmasAddress2010Eng, p. 14.

[lxxix] “… incontro con il mondo della cultura nella Westminster Hall …” ChristmasAddress2010, 38. English translation: ChristmasAddress2010Eng, p. 14.

[lxxx] Benedictus PP. XVI, Allocutio, “Iter Apostolicum Summi Pontificis in Regnum Unitum: Londinii in Aula Vestmonasteriensi colloquium Benedicti XVI cum primoribus Societatis Civilis; cum doctis vivis culturae, scientiis et operum conductioni deditis; cum Corpore Legatorum et Religiosis Auctoritatibus”, 17 Septembris 2010, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 102 (2010), 635. [Hereafter, Westminster].

[lxxxi] Westminster, 636.

[lxxxii] Westminster, 636-637.

[lxxxiii] Westminster, 637.

[lxxxiv] Westminster, 637.

[lxxxv] Westminster, 637.

[lxxxvi] Westminster, 637.

[lxxxvii] Westminster, 637.

[lxxxviii] Westminster, 637.

[lxxxix] “Questo consenso [morale] di fondo proveniente dal patrimonio cristiano è in pericolo là dove al suo posto, al posto della ragione morale, subentra la mera razionalità finalistica di cui ho parlato poco fa. Questo è in realtà un accecamento della ragione per ciò che è l’essenziae. Combattere contro questo accecamento della ragione e conservarle la capacità di vedere l’essenziale, di vedere Dio e l’uomo, ciò che è buono e ciò che è vero, è l’interesse comune che deve unire tutti gli uomini di buona volontà. È in gioco il futuro del mondo.” ChristmasAddress2010, 39. English translation: ChristmasAddress2010Eng, p. 14.

[xc] “Tum exclusio religionis ex ambitu publico, tum quoque fundamentalismus religiosus, consortionem inter personas impediunt earumque consociatam operam ad humanitatem provehendam. Vita publica rationum cumulo extenuatur et res politica pugnacem vultum adhibet. Iura humana in periculo versantur ne observentur, quia suo transcendenti fundamento orbantur vel humana non agnoscitur libertas. In laicismo et fundamentalismo facultas amittitur frugiferi colloquii atque efficacis cooperationis inter rationem et religosam fidem. Ratio semper fide est purificanda, quod etiam de politica ratione est dicendum, quae non debet putare se omnipotentem esse…. Huius dialogi abruptio perquam onerosum erga humanitatis progressionem secum fert pretium.” CV, 692, n. 56. English translation: CVEng, pp. 94-95, no. 56.

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