Prudential judgment

As we all know, some controversies the Church seems to leave to prudential judgment, especially in cases where she has not decided the appropiate course to take decisively. Why is this so? Would it not be simpler for the laity for the Vatican to tell us what to do?

Good question, but not exactly sure what you are asking. Can you elaborate?

No it wouldnt be simpler to take instruction from Vatican laity. I understand the first part of your statement but the last question sort of confuses me. Why would the laity have the answers?

I meant to say:
Should not the Vatican, or at least the bishops in each particular country, tell us what stances to take on issues beyond the obvious non-negotiables? I mean why leave any issue up to prudential judgment amongst ourselves?

I found this thread, maybe it can help you answer some questions:

Yes, let’s eliminate independent thinking altogether.

For one thing, there would be virtually no need for this forum. Or any debates at all, for that matter. :shrug:

Very curious why you are on here if you feel that way:shrug:

Dear Cojuanco,

Cordial greetings and a very good day. Thankyou for raising this important and highly relevant topic, since it is at the heart of much confusion and erroneous decision making among contemporary Catholics, especially the youth, on a whole range of contentious issues.

First, dear friend, our Church has never sought to micro-manage every single aspect of our moral life but provides sound general guidance even in the absence of official magisterial pronouncements. However, this does rather presuppose that the faithful will cultivate a properly formed conscience, which will ensure that they think with an authentic Catholic mind and are therefore unlikely to make catastrophic errors of prudential judgment. Thus, to take just one example, when it comes to the issue of modest attire you will find many wrongly contending that because our Church has not issued some official proscription against say the mini-skirt, then it is perfectly acceptable for a Catholic woman to don such a seductive style garment. They assert that this, as well as many other issues, is an obvious case of dublis liberatas (where a doubt exists freedom should be granted). However, this is a fundamentally flawed, albeit specious, line of argumentation because it ignores the extrinsic tradition of the Church throughout the ages and the indispensable role of a well-formed conscience in correctly discerning that tradition as true and trustworthy. An authentic Catholic mind will always repair to the collective wisdom of past to aid him in discerning the truth as to what is permissible and what is not. At any rate, he will certainly not take his cue from contemporary culture as to what is morally permissible, for that is decidedly not a very sound or reliable guide, especially today.

Unfortunately, dear friend, and I apologise if this sounds rather harsh or censorious, since the permissive revolution of the 1960’s there has been a tragic loss of the moral sense among many contemporary Catholics, resulting in multitudes sadly lacking a proper spiritual formation. Moreover, owing to a shameful worldly conformity to the prevailing godless Western culture, many now show evidence of a radically defective conscience, unable or unwilling to discern what is that “good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God”, which itself only comes with the renewal of the mind (cf. Rom. 12: 2). Incontrovertably, a Laodicean ‘lukewarmeness’ pervades contemporary Western Catholicism, with many adopting a hand in hand with the world type of religious practice. This surely explains the reason for the catastrophic errors of prudential judgment that we sadly witness being made by legions of professing Catholics today, especially among the youth, on all manner of issues. It is all too easy for men to become deadened to that which morally and culturally unhealthy, given their fallen estate. The inward transformation of the mind is the only effective preservative against outward conformity with the godless world - it is also the key to developing a properly formed conscience, which is equipped to make wise prudentian judgments.

God bless and I do trust that this is of some help to you, dear friend.

Warmest good wishes,



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