Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Conscience is NOT a dirty word

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we find we find in Part III under the title of “The Dignity of the human Person” the following statements in reference to conscience:

"Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment.... For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God.... His conscience is man's most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths.” (1776)

“Moral conscience, present at the heart of the person, enjoins him at the appropriate moment to do good and to avoid evil. It also judges particular choices, approving those that are good and denouncing those that are evil. It bears witness to the authority of truth in reference to the supreme Good to which the human person is drawn, and it welcomes the commandments. When he listens to his conscience, the prudent man can hear God speaking.” (1777)

“Conscience enables one to assume responsibility for the acts performed. If man commits evil, the just judgment of conscience can remain within him as the witness to the universal truth of the good, at the same time as the evil of his particular choice, the verdict of the judgment of conscience remains a pledge of hope and mercy. In attesting to the fault committed, it calls to mind the forgiveness that must be asked, the good that must still be practiced, and the virtue that must be constantly cultivated with the grace of God.” (1781)

The Church offers these moral guides in its Catechism so that the faithful may deepen and form their consciences and live these truths. By doing this, we act and think according to what is good and avoid evil. We choose virtue and reject vice. This is our baptized vocation if we are trying to live our lives in Christ.

However, in Canada today, it increasingly seems that having a conscience is a bad thing. Our liberal society wants us to be more “tolerant”, “inclusive” and indulge in a life of individual gratification without ever considering sin. In short, there has been a move to eliminate the good conscience. Let's consider some relevant examples:

-Marriage commissioners cannot refuse to marry same-sex partners. Why does the state want to deny an individual the freedom of conscience?
-In Quebec, parents have been denied their rights to exempt their children from the provincial mandated ethics and religious course.
-Schools in Ontario are being forced to implement gay/straight clubs.
-Parental rights are being violated as school boards prepare new teacher resources on the numerous LBGT identities.
-School boards are removing most traces of Christianity, but making every effort to accommodate other religions.
-The Canadian Supreme Court has struck down the bawdy house provision as unconstitutional. This is legal talk for not prosecuting prostitution. The same immoral argument was made for decriminalizing abortion with the Criminal Law Amendment Act passed in 1969: this has led to the legal killing of millions of babies and paid with our tax dollars. In fact, for every 100 live births there are about 30 killed through abortion in Canada.
- The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunication Commission, CRTC, has approved a broadcasting licence to Vanessa Channel, the Playboy channel for Canada, but refuses to grant one for a Christian station to air all-day programs.
-If Bill 13 is passed in Ontario, It will make the term sexual orientation and the all behaviours that go with it legal and thus approved by the province.

Conscience is not a dirty word. A good conscience is a litmus test against the immorality of our times.  A properly formed conscience allows us to make an informed judgment between good and evil. This is why most people were shocked about the abuse and brutal killing of eight year-old Victoria Stafford. Somebody with a conscience could not have lured, tortured and ended the life of this little girl. Sadly, because our consciences are being devalued, depleted, ignored and maligned,  there are too many of these horrible cases.

Somebody with a conscience cannot kill a baby in a mother’s womb. Somebody with a conscience cannot encourage teenagers to be sexually active without telling them about its serious moral, physical, psychological and ethical consequences and the responsibilities that go with it. This why the Church teaches that the formation of conscience and its connection to God are what give dignity to the human person. Contrary to current political beliefs and social trends, conscience is not a dirty word, but a person’s moral compass the guides us away from evil and towards what is virtuous. To rebuild a culture of life in Canada, we need to protect the freedom of conscience and the moral formation of conscience. It's our umbilical cord to each other and to God.

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