An obligation to form one's conscience?


I have a friend at work who converted to Catholicism through the Newman Center at the University of Oregon. When I showed her the Voter’s Guide she said she didn’t know what to think. She had been taught at the U of Oregon’s Newman Center to follow her conscience. She disagreed with every non-negotiable item in the guide.

I don’t know how intellectually curious this 30 year-old convert is but I wanted to give her something to read. Any suggestions?


Dear Rahab,

My Dominican brothers staff that Newman center and I know that they also teach the necessity of forming one’s conscience according to Divine Revelation and the teachings of the Church. Every one of the non-negotiable items in the guide has been specifically and officially condemned by the Church. That is why they are in the guide!

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches about the formation of conscience, beginning with #1783. Number 1785 states: “In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path, we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. We must also examine our conscience before the Lord’s Cross. We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church.”

I would suggest that make sure that she has a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. There is a book and tape by Fr. Thomas Williams on this subject, called: “Building on Solid Ground.” This is the website on how to order the book:

And this is the website on how to order the tape set:

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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