Can Disagreeing with Prudential Judgement of an Episcopal Conference be a Mortal Sin if Done Rashly?

Hello, if one comes to disagree with a prudential judgement that is given by an episcopal conference, could it be a mortal sin if one disagrees with that prudential judgement rashly (for example, disagreeing simply because of political tendencies)? I am worried that I have disagreed with a prudential judgement rashly, but at the same time, I am scrupulous. I have not found an answer elsewhere.

Unless the episcopal conference’s decision goes against established “Faith and Morals” precepts, then Yes it is a sin.
We are to be docile with our Bishops who have been put there to watch over us.

I’m not persuaded. Prudential judgements of bishops deserve respect and thoughtful consideration, but at the end of the day, you may disagree.

To take an extreme case - there are bishops who judged that not reporting, and simply relocating, a seriously misbehaving priest was the right and best course of action. [One could debate how this stacks up morally, but I give the bishops the benefit of doubt.] Were you a parishioner and aware of the situation, would you have been docile?

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If you just can’t agree with them on something, then don’t. They’re not infallible. Obedience and respect doesn’t mean you have to agree. This isn’t the Magisterium we’re talking about.

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If you are scrupulous, you really need not to be asking questions to strangers online — it’s not that we don’t want to help you, it is just that scrupulous people need to be working closely with a trusted priest who is faithful to the magisterium in all things.

But to answer your question, it’s not entirely clear what you mean by “prudential judgment”, but unless they are echoing the Church’s magisterium on matters of faith and morals, you may disagree with them as you see fit. I have in mind such things as political opinions, or the best ways to address social problems, such as racism or the environment (for instance). Keeping in mind that they are bishops, I would not just “blow them off” out of hand, but on temporal matters, or prudential assessments of how principles of faith and morals apply to concrete situations, you are free to disagree as you see fit, after giving their opinions due consideration.


I am more wondering if it could potentially be a mortal sin to disagree with a prudential judgement given by an episcopal conference without giving their reasoning enough thought/disagreeing merely for political reasons/not having an alternative (such as in a legislative policy).

If I am aware of an illicit my duty is to take appropriate steps. But one must be careful we are not talking about hearsay. It must be direct knowledge of the illicit acts.

Mortal - in my judgement, no.

I suggested that it is a mistake for bishops to squander their credibility as teachers of faith and morals by issuing pronouncements, especially politically partisan pronouncements, on matters beyond their competence as bishops. These are typically matters of prudential judgment on which Catholics (and others) of equal intelligence and good will can and do disagree. (Fr. Richard Neuhaus, 2007)

Any Catholic is entitled to question the hierarchy’s prudential judgments about anything, as long as it is done in good faith and good taste. (Msgr George Kelly, founder of Fellowship of Catholic Scholars)

“No episcopal conference, as such, has a teaching mission; its documents have no weight of their own save that of the consent given to them by the individual bishops.” (Cardinal Ratzinger: The Ratzinger Report, p60)

"Prudential” has a technical theological meaning … It refers to the application of Catholic doctrine to changing concrete circumstances. Since the Christian revelation tells us nothing about the particulars of contemporary society, the Pope and the bishops have to rely on their personal judgment as qualified spiritual leaders in making practical applications. Their prudential judgment, while it is to be respected, is not a matter of binding Catholic doctrine. To differ from such a judgment, therefore, is not to dissent from Church teaching. (Cardinal Dulles, 2004)


Just because you’re Catholic doesn’t mean you put your brain out to pasture.
You read.
You think.
You decide.

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