Prudence vs. Pastoral Appraoch

I have a question regarding this matter that has bugged me for sometime.

What happens if a recommended pastoral approach of the Church feels imprudent?

a) Is it good to abandon the sense of prudence?
b) Does it mean that the person is necessarily wrong (due to being at odds with the Church)?
c) Does the matter of prudence and pastoral approach fall within the realm of conscience?

Honestly I don’t think anyone in the Church really knows what the word pastoral means. Some think a pastoral approach is being nice, some think it is being cunning (creatively balancing two sides), some think it means accepting everybody, etc. Many people in the Church also do not know what prudence is.

To answer your question with what little details you give, I would say never abandon prudence. A person who is wrong is so regardless of intention, but intention dictates the guilt and gravity. To no surprise learning and practicing prudence (it is an acquired virtue) leads to adherence to teachings and no doubt a pastoral approach, whatever that may be. Your conscience is worth a lot, and plays a large part in how grave a certain action may be (to the extent that something which isn’t sinful in itself can be if your conscience told you it was and you still went through with it), and also could very well be a vehicle of grace. In times when you are balancing prudence and pastoral approach (whatever that may be), a sober conscience is not infallible but is probably the best tool you have.

This is too vague to give any kind of concrete answer to, but we know that it is never permissible to forego prudence because it is the virtue by which we discern not only what is right but also how best to go about doing what is right. We know the ends don’t justify the means, so finding the right means is as much a matter of moral importance as deciding on the right end.

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