Trying to freshen up on my understanding of conscience: When is it permissible to sin?


After reading, and rereading, and rereading Amoris laetitia ch. 8 I am more confused about Pope Francis’ reworking of the notion of conscience. My understanding is that conscience is the faculty that corresponds my moral actions to the objective moral law via reason. But since our moral faculties were impacted negatively by the fall, my conscience is not infallible or always correct, and therefore needs the Church for guidence. This is why we have a duty to form our conscience according to God’s revelation and natural law. A well-formed conscience helps me to determine what God’s will is in relation to His public revelation and perennial teaching of His one Church. Conscience directs me to the good. In paragraph no. 303 in one sense I can understand Pope Francis’ push, yet I do not agree, or am uncomfortable with the idea, through ones own discernment God might be asking me to persist in a sinful state because I cannot give anymore. Has this been the Church’s perennial teaching? Can one be free to continue in an objectively sinful state because it’s too hard to conform to God’s law and my conscience tells me to stick put? Again, so confused.


It’s never ok to sin. We’re supposed to try to live our lives free from sin. But, as no human is perfect, God offers us his forgiveness and grace through the sacrament of reconcilliation. But, this doesn’t give us a free license to not amend our lives.


From what I have read in other Magesterial documents is that God gives everyone the grace not to sin so we cannot say it’s too difficult. Not sure what the Holy Father Is saying here, the complete paragraph and preceding ones may help.


That has always been my understanding as well. Nothing is impossible with God’s grace. But in the context of Amoris Laetitia it seems that an exception or an excuse to conform one’s life to God law is created if amending one life is too hard. That is my conflict here. It seems as though Pope Francis is saying that given the circumstances of one’s life, having lived in a relationship of being divorced and Sibley remarried without annulment, might be too hard to separate from and therefore exceptions can be made for people. It seems to make little account or value of God’s grace and his calling us 2 heroic virtue


I think what he saying is that some people do not have full knowledge of their sin, thus it may not be mortal sin. They need a priests help to guide them to the Catholic truth.


I thought that too but the chapter does put forth a scenario that some might be trapped, so to say, in such objectively sinful situations by their own doings but too hard to break with them (i.e. - divorced and remarried) and despite the universal prohibition of readmitting such people to the sacraments, modern exceptions might be made. The fact that there are a myriad of interpretations on this and that His Holiness when asked officially chooses to remain silent leads me to believe this chapter probably is not Church teaching nor binding on the faithful. Burke says it is not if it is calling for new teaching. Cupich says it is and constitutes a revolution in the same teaching. Pope Francis stays silent.


What’s behind this sudden influx of threads questioning Amoris Laetitia?



Maybe the Pope is saying that some are in situations where they are divorced and remarried but can live together for a period of time and must live chastely until they work out their situations with their true spouses and the Church.


Catholic Answer forums have always been a good source of answers and drawing out of topics! Amoris is a point of confusion for many and trying to draw out confusing points regarding its ambiguity. That’s it. Trying to address my confusion. Even you have to admit it is not clear and both sides of the internal schism are battling over it. Just want to remain faithful to the Catholic Faith not just a Pope or cardinals opinion.


I do appreciate the snarky accusation.


Well no Pope can teach heresy otherwise we would all be following a bad Shepard, so don’t worry, Pope Francis has not taught heresy here.

We don’t have to agree with every single Popes opinion, although we should not publicly correct the Pope, and should trust him.


Maybe better, can you direct me to resorces, commentaries, etc by faithful and orthodox theologians that can help resolve some of the confusion. I have read “Remaining in the Truth of Christ” (Ignatius Press) and listened to Fr. Chad Ripperger’s 10 part series “Road to the Dubia”. Both of which were phenomenal. But they lead me to interpret Amoris, if authentic Church teaching, not that spectacular or revolutionary as dissidents like Cupich claim. If that’s the case than nothing new is being presented in Amoris, I can expect no change in Church perennial practice. Correct?


Are you going to divorce and re-marry? No?
Then, read the catechism. That is unchanged.
Realistic or not, the furor over AL strikes me as needless gossip.

The catechism.

A wonderful resource.


Sometimes it is the lesser of two evils. Your are in a bad marriage with 3 young kids. Instead of leaving, evil #1, you might stay, evil#2, until the kids are older. Now there would be things you can do to lessen evil #2.


Yea but if it’s going to temp one to commit adultery then one should plan to leave st a certain time.


Yes, that would be included in my last sentence.


Though I understand the force of doctrine, this thinking seems to prioritize one’s own salvation over the good of one’s family. It is not good for man to be alone, and it is not good for children to be without two parents who live with them in the home. I don’t think that this justifies adultery, but I do think that it could (in certain circumstances) justify not avoiding the near occasion of sin.

There are clearly some cases where one ought to choose NOT to avoid the near occasion of sin, since avoiding it would have awful consequences. For instance, if I see a merchant’s house is on fire, I ought to tell them, even if their reaction of running to the house leaves me vulnerable to a temptation to shoplift.


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