How far does "freedom of conscience" go?

I recently attended a marriage pereparation course sponsored by the diocese.

The discussion was on Contraception and they said ultimately the question whether or not to use contraception was up to the individual to decide based on his own conscience, because the “Church teaches us that we must be true to our conscience and ultimately our conscience is the supreme rule of faith we must follow.”

I pointed out paragraphs 1782-1792 of the catechism to them and told them that under this logic any sin (adultery, murder etc) could be justified. They said i was interpreting it wrong that to force Church teaching on people over their conscience would interfere with their personal relationship with God.

This type of belief seems to be in so many courses taught at our Church. I am fairly certain my Pastor and my Bishop would support this type of thinking so I don’t have any recourse there. I am going back next week and am wondering if there are any other authoritative documents that clearly address what is “Freedom of Conscience” and how does it interact with our obligation to follow Church teachings.

Thanks for your response

Dear BA,

The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks of the formation of conscience with #1783 and the following. With # 1790 and the following it deals with erroneous judgment and the need to have an informed conscience. We are not free to have an un-informed conscience as your clergy seem to be indicating.

You are in my prayers.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit