Conscience and Homosexuality/Abortion

I’m sure this has been asked before, but what do you say to someone who pulls out the “conscience” card when discussing homosexuality and/or abortion?

Occasionally, I come across “spirit of Vatican II” Catholics who disagree with the Church’s teaching on either of the subjects, and trump out the 'The Church says I should study the Church’s teachings and ultimately use my conscience. Therefore, I disagree with the Church’s teaching."

I believe they are misinterpreting what is meant by using “conscience.” I believe that what is meant is that we should not be simply robots and follow Church teachings, but that we should know WHY the Church teaches what it does, and that our consciences should be fully formed and informed. Am I wrong?

You are correct.

The *Catechism of the Catholic Church * says,

“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.

A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself. Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed. 1790

This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is the case when a man “takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin.” In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits. 1791

In the true “Spirit of Vatican II”, *Dignitatis Humanae * (14) says,

In the formation of their consciences, the Christian faithful ought carefully to attend to the sacred and certain doctrine of the Church. For the Church is, by the will of Christ, the teacher of the truth. It is her duty to give utterance to, and authoritatively to teach, that truth which is Christ Himself, and also to declare and confirm by her authority those principles of the moral order which have their origins in human nature itself.

The conscience and Abortion:

*Declaration on Procured Abortion * – The Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (1974)

  1. It hopes that all the faithful, including those who might have been unsettled by the controversies and new opinions, will understand that it is not a question of opposing one opinion to another, but of transmitting to the faithful a constant teaching of the supreme Magisterium, which teaches moral norms in the light of faith. It is therefore clear that this declaration necessarily entails a grave obligation for Christian consciences. May God deign to enlighten also all men who strive with their whole heart to “act in truth” (Jn. 3:21).

  2. …never, under any pretext, may abortion be resorted to, either by a family or by the political authority, as a legitimate means of regulating births. The damage to moral values is always a greater evil for the common good than any disadvantage in the economic or demographic order.


2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

Recommended reading:

Articles on Church teaching and homosexuality

Forming a Catholic Conscience
by Thomas G. Morrow

*Catechism of the Catholic Church * sections 1776-1802

Online book: *Fundamental Moral Conscience Attitudes * by Dietrich Von Hildebrand

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