I wish to join the CC and am taking steps to do so. The words ‘informed conscience’ are often used, but I do not know what people mean when they use them.
How do I know if I have an ‘informed conscience’? How do I know if I am getting an ‘informed conscience’?
I think this is important if we talk about Catholic teachings that are on one hand authoritative, but on the other hand do allow what some call ‘wiggle room’ - usually applied to protestant doctrine. In this case we can apply it to Catholic practice.
For example, in the area of moral theology, the Church’s rule is that Catholics are not to use artificial birth control methods. There are however exceptions to the law in certain cases.
Canon law describes two principles in such a case: the principle of double effect, and the principle of the lesser of two evils. The principle of double effect means that following the Church’s rule against artificial contraception has two outcomes: in this case (1) prevention of conception and (2) prevention of infection with, say HIV, which would lead almost inevitably to death in many instances.
This is where the lesser of two evils principle and the application of informed conscience comes into effect: the primary aim of the Church is to facilitate procreation, but prevention of infection and life-saving may be the choice of the ‘informed conscience’.
Morally, the ‘informed conscience’ cannot choose evil, but if contronted by two potential but antithetical outcomes, may at least choose one of the two (or more) options.
I would be grateful for advice.