CONSCIENCE CONSCIENCE IN THE TEACHINGS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH The Catholic tradition believes that our conscience is much more than an ‘internal censor’ the regulates our conduct by using guilt According to the Church our consciences acts in love, and responds to the call to commit ourselves to value. It is the key to responsible freedom, or wanting to do what we do because we value what we are seeking. CONSCIENCE AND THE CATECHISM CCC #1776 Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which her 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. CONSCIENCE AND THE CATECHISM CCC #1777 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 the 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 her God speaking. THEORIES OF CONSCIENCE McCarty, M. (1992) Deciding: Moral Decision Making for Catholics. Dubuque, Iowa: Brown-Roa. THE "HUNCH THEORY" When asked whether a certain action or decision is right or wrong, many people respond: I just know it is or something just tells me it is. However, when asked the reasons, they can't be specific. (McCarty, 1992) "DOING WHAT COMES NATURALLY" THEORY Some believe we are born with a certain moral instinct that tells them right from wrong. Therefore, if people just did what came naturally by instinct they would be doing the right thing according to their conscience. (McCarty, 1992) "THE LITTLE VOICE " THEORY A voice inside telling right or wrong. To them it is the voice of a force or a power other than themselves who gives guidance. When asked these people will often say: I just know that's what God wants or it’s God's will. (McCarty, 1992) "FOLLOW THE CROWD" THEORY This group believe the majority can't be wrong. If enough people think or feel that something is right then it must be, or wrong- it has to be so. "THE FEELING " THEORY Conscience for some is a matter of how one "feels" after the action is taken or a decision is made. If you feel good - it was right, if you feel bad - it was wrong. If a person feels bad, or guilty, then it was wrong. (McCarty, 1992) "NO CONSCIENCE" THEORY No conscience at all. The idea is something that religions have made up to make people feel guilty about certain actions. A person just does what they decide to do or does what they must in a given situation and that is all that should be expected or required of anyone. (McCarty, 1992) "USING YOUR HEAD" THEORY Conscience involves using our head - our ability to reason, considering all alternatives and aspects of a given situation while always keeping in mind which values and priorities are most important and which are not; and trying to do the most loving and least harmful thing for all concerned. Number 7 is the teaching of the Catholic church. We also believe that a person's conscience develops as that individual's ability to think, to reflect and to exercise clearer, more objective judgments matures. CONSCIENCE AS A CAPACITY TO RECOGNIZE RIGHT AND WRONG All people in all cultures have a general awareness that some things are right and others are wrong Every human has a basic orientation towards the good Conscience defines the essential identity of the human The terms “sociopath” and “psychopath” refer to persons who have no conscience CONSCIENCE AS A PROCESS OF MORAL REASONING Conscience alone cannot help you choose right and avoid evil You must also use reason to help you decide what to do in each situation (learn the facts and learn what moral values are) Your conscience must be formed and informed (this means being educated about moral issues) Sources of education include: your community, Church, Scripture, personal experience, moral theologians CONSCIENCE AS JUDGMENT After examining the facts, you need to make a decision and commitment to do what is right Conscience makes a moral decision your own (it is something you need to do if you want to be true to yourself!) You decision must be based on your personal perception and your understanding of the values that mean something to you SIX SYMPTOMS OF A MISINFORMED CONSCIENCE 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Rationalization: Stealing may be wrong sometimes, but large stores can afford it because they are making huge profits. Trivialization: It’s no big deal – everyone else does it. Misinformation: My doctor told me that all teenage girls should take the birth control pill to prevent getting pregnant. The ends justify the immoral means: I had to steal the chocolate bar – I didn’t have any money and I hadn’t eaten for 12 hours. I get sick if I don’t eat. Means to and end: By dropping a nuclear bomb to end the war, we’ll end up saving lives. Difficult to reason: Having been kicked out of his home and finding himself with no place to go, a teen acts without thinking. He breaks into an empty home to keep warm when he could have asked for help form the police.