Monday, December 20, 2010
Here is Pope Benedict's recent address to the Roman Curia. The Pope makes some interesting comments about the issue of sexual abuse and traces the crisis to the moral theories that led to such confusion and that prompted Pope John Paul II to issue Veritatis Splendor, his great encyclical on moral theology.
Benedict also makes some insightful observations about the proper meaning of conscience. In particular, Benedict comments on Blessed John Henry Newman's understanding of conscience. Newman is frequently lauded as a proponent of a modern understanding of conscience. But, in Benedict's view, this is all wrong. For Newman,
"'conscience' means man’s capacity for truth: the capacity to recognize precisely in the decision-making areas of his life – religion and morals – a truth, the truth. At the same time, conscience – man’s capacity to recognize truth – thereby imposes on him the obligation to set out along the path towards truth, to seek it and to submit to it wherever he finds it. Conscience is both capacity for truth and obedience to the truth which manifests itself to anyone who seeks it with an open heart. The path of Newman’s conversions is a path of conscience – not a path of self-asserting subjectivity but, on the contrary, a path of obedience to the truth that was gradually opening up to him."