Requesting help in verifying of quotation concerning conscience

There is an old post on this, that didn’t get resolved, as far as I can tell.

Cardinal Newman quotes one Cardinal Gousset having quoted the Fourth Lateran Council thus: “Quidquid fit contra conscientiam, ædificat ad gehennam” (p. 247). Newman himself, it seems, provides a (rather loose?) translation: “He who acts against his conscience loses his soul” (p. 259).

The quotations provided in these passages from Newman are very widely quoted on Catholic websites. I am unable, however, to verify the genuineness of the teaching from Lateran IV. Can anybody do so? Or debunk it?

Newman was, of course, a very careful and cautious writer: I have no doubt that he is quoting Gousset accurately. The question remains, however, whether Cardinal Gousset was quoting the Fourth Lateran Council accurately; he himself was, I gather, a respected scholar, too. But I believe that there have been disputes in the past about (1) which Lateran councils were ecumenical, and (2) which texts attributed to those councils are genuine. So, Gousset could be citing a council that is not now considered to be ecumenical, or a text that is not now considered to be genuine.

I can find no citations to the Fourth Lateran Council on conscience in the Catechism of the Catholic Church or in Vatican II (where I would, indeed, expect to find them). The only use of the word “conscience” I can find (at IntraText) in any of the Lateran councils are all from Lateran V, and none are the quotation in question. Neither Tanner’s edition of the Ecumenical Councils, nor the new Denzinger, cite Lateran IV in their indices for conscience, unless I am overlooking something.

Can anybody else verify, or falsify, this alleged quotation from Lateran Council IV?

Thanks & God bless.

I couldn’t find anything online that answers your question directly. The Cardinal Gousset in question is probably Thomas-Marie-Joseph Gousset (1792-1866), a French cardinal and theologian, and the work quoted is probably his 1844 “Théologie morale a l’usage des curés et des confesseurs.”

Whether the quote is genuine or not, it is certainly consistent with the teaching of Sacred Scripture: “Whoever knows what is right to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” (James 4:17)


“He who acts against his conscience loses his soul”**

If that is the correct translation, it’s a correct thought.

The problem with identifying conscience, however, is the critical question.

Can we have a conscience that lies to us? Have we made it lie to us? Have we told it to tell us that right is wrong and wrong is right? If that’s the case, then it is wrong to follow our conscience, because we willingly give our conscience to the control of the devil, and we no longer have a Catholic conscience, as Cardinal George points out.

However, conscience has to be properly formed and based on Church teachings.
For example, a Catholic cannot get away with rejecting an infallible teaching like abortion by saying my conscience tells me its okay to kill an unborn baby so that means I’m not committing a mortal sin. That does not work. Such a Catholic would be committing a mortal sin and would be automatically excommunicated.

The texts of the councils are on line and this statement does not appear to be included in the version I searched.



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