Denver Archbishop: Consciences Have to Be Formed, Not Just Followed

Speaks to Health Care Professionals About Listening to God’s Voice

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Acting in accord with one’s conscience is important, if that conscience is informed by the voice of God, says Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver.

The archbishop spoke of the role of conscience in promoting a Culture of Life on Saturday at a White Mass for Health Care Professionals. 

“What has happened with so many Catholics today is that they have come to understand conscience as listening to their own voice,” he said, “rather than listening to the voice of God as he has revealed himself in Scripture and in Tradition.”

The archbishop quoted soon-to-be Saint John Paul II, who wrote that “the first and fundamental step towards … cultural transformation consists in forming consciences with regard to the incomparable and inviolable worth of every human life.”  

“It is important for us to form consciences, especially in our own time when people are told, ‘Well, just follow your conscience,’” he continued. “Most people today do not even know what conscience is, let alone that they are called to form their conscience.

“It is essential that we help people to understand that conscience is the voice of God living within the human heart (Guadium et Spes,16). They must quietly listen for that voice and open their hearts to it.” 

The archbishop explained that if one rejects God, “then one’s conscience becomes deadened and hardened, because you deny that there is even a voice to listen to.”

Addressing the health care professionals in attendance, he said that it is “essential for us in whatever field of life we are in, in whatever vocation we are in, to be those who help people form their consciences, to understand what conscience is, and that yes, and understand that one’s conscience can become hardened, can become deadened, and can be erroneous when it is not faithful to God and to the truth.”

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