Wednesday, May 6, 2009
I suspect that Fr. Araujo and I come out on the same side on many of today's conscience debates, but we might get there from different starting points. He writes:
If the person who claims conscientious objector status to either (or both) of these “services” [abortion or contraception] does so by relying on moral principles that are not simply from the “inner voice” but from the objective standard that relies on the rigorous process of right reason, should not his or her claim be protected? I think so, if one relies on the rationale proposed by the Church concerning these and related matters.
To me, protecting the right of conscience well-formed is a win-win situation: those who choose to engage in the controversial and what others deem morally objectionable are entitled to do so because the law says they may; but, those who choose not to participate in the controversial because of what their well-formed conscience instructs can go on with the peace of mind that their well-formed conscience shall not be compromised.
So here's my question for Fr. Araujo: are you suggesting that whether a conscience is "well formed" according to Catholic teaching should be relevant to determining whether it gains protection under the civil law, or are you simply pointing out that it is important for Catholics to form their consciences well? If the latter, I'm on board. If the former, that standard would seem to eviscerate the liberty of conscience. It also, from my reading, stands in significant tension with a good portion of the Catholic intellectual tradition, much of which has emphasized that a person may be culpable for a poorly formed conscience, but not for following that poorly formed conscience.