Pope Francis on January 29, 2018, stressed the “centrality of conscience” in an address to the Prelate Auditors, officials, lawyers, and collaborators of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota on the occasion of the solemn inauguration of the Judicial Year. He gave the address during an audience with the group in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace.
“The conscience assumes a decisive role in the demanding choices that couples must face to welcome and build the conjugal union and hence the family according to God’s plan,” the Pope said. The explained that the “sphere of conscience” has been in the forefront of discussions by the last two synods of bishops and is reflected in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia.
“This derives from the awareness that the Successor of Peter and the Synod Fathers have developed regarding the urgent need for listening, on the part of the Pastors of the Church, to the requests and expectations of those faithful who have kept their consciences silent and absent for long years and were subsequently helped by God and by life to regain some light, turning to the Church to have their conscience at peace,” according to the Holy Father.
The Pope cited the two Documents in the form of a Motu proprio, enacted in 2015, to reform of the marriage annulment process. He noted that the reforms are designed to speed the process and make it more just. Added to that, he pointed to the first five chapters of Amoris Laetitia as “the extraordinary richness of the conjugal covenant as designed by God in the Scriptures and lived by the Church throughout history”.
“A continuous experience of faith, hope and charity is all the more necessary so that young people may again decide, with a sure and serene conscience, that conjugal union open to the gift of children is great joy for God, for the Church, for humanity,” the Pope continued. “Faith is a light that illuminates not only the present but also the future: marriage and family are the future of the Church and of society. It is, therefore, necessary to promote a state of permanent catechumenate so that the consciousness of the baptized is open to the light of the Spirit.”