THE SERVANT GENERAL
ASSAULTS ON FAITH, FAMILY AND LIFE
A DISTORTED VIEW OF CONSCIENCE
May 19, 2018
There are actions that are intrinsically evil, and no amount
of rationalizing or improper use of conscience can change
that. Progressives and political correctness within the Church
are trying to stop the use of the phrase “Intrinsically
evil,” saying this is offensive. This is a ploy to eventually
gain acceptance of sinful acts that are indeed intrinsically
Conscience needs to be properly formed, and formed in accordance
with the Magisterium of our Church. Today there are many malformed
consciences, and there are those among clerics who would assuage
their consciences by approving of intrinsically evil acts.
Priest explains why adultery is always ‘mortal
sin,’ even when done in ‘good conscience’
May 17, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A
"distorted" view of conscience in the Church today
has led many Catholics to believe they can commit adultery,
fornication, homosexual acts, and other mortal sins in ‘good
conscience’ while still remaining in God’s grace,
a Catholic priest and Thomistic scholar indicated today at
a talk in Rome.
Fr. Thomas Crean, OP, spoke at the Roman Life Forum today
at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum)
to explain St. Thomas Aquinas’
teaching on conscience and to show how "certain prelates
and theologians" within the Church are distorting that
teaching in such a way as to allow men to follow their own
sinful inclinations instead of God’s laws.
The full paper can be found below.
Crean explained that conscience truly understood is not an
“authority, in the sense of something which authorises
me to act,” but a judgment made by our intellects about
the goodness or evil of actions we have done, are doing, or
are thinking of doing.
He criticized Cardinal Blase Cupich's "distorted view"
that conscience, in the words of the Cardinal, represents
“God’s personal guidance for the particularities
of [human] lives.”
Crean stressed how St. Thomas holds
that judgments of conscience can err, and that it is the duty
of each person to form his conscience according to truth.
“What has authority are
God, and the good; conscience only has authority to the extent
that it adheres to God and to the good; that is to say, insofar
as it judges truly,” he said.
During his talk, Crean appeared to indirectly address an understanding
of conscience as found in Pope Francis’ 2016 exhortation
Amoris Laetitia that contradicts St. Thomas’
teaching on conscience.
The exhortation taught that the Church must make “room
for the consciences of the faithful, who...are capable of
carrying out their own discernment in complex situations.”
This passage suggests that the “consciences of the faithful”
can have an authority of their own, independent of God's laws
and the teachings of the Church.
Amoris Laetitia suggests in passage 303 that conscience
can discern that God Himself asks less than what He commands.
“Conscience can do more than recognize that a given
situation does not correspond objectively to the overall demands
of the Gospel,” the exhortation states. “It can
also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is
the most generous response which can be given to God, and
come to see with a certain moral security that it is what
God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s
limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal,” the
Passages such as these have been used by prelates within the
Church to lend legitimacy to a so-called second ‘marriage’
entered into by civilly divorced Catholics. The exhortation
has also been interpreted as allowing Catholics who are objectively
committing adultery to receive Holy Communion, contrary to
previous Catholic teaching.
In his talk, Crean addresses the talking points of “certain
prelates and theologians” who attempt to assure those
who commit various intrinsically evil acts including
adultery, homosexuality, fornication, cohabitation that
they remain in the state of grace by appealing to a distorted
sense of conscience.
He explained how Catholics cannot be invincibly ignorant of
the divine commandments forbidding intrinsically evil acts
such that they impute no guilt when acting contrary to them.
And even if it were possible that a Catholic did not know
the commandments, such ignorance would itself be a “mortal
sin, since he had been gravely negligent in ascertaining what
law of God was.”
“We see here, it seems to me, a certain danger in the
maxim, often repeated, that ‘full knowledge and consent’
are necessary conditions for mortal sin," said Crean.
"It is not in fact necessary to know that something is
a mortal sin in order to incur the guilt of mortal sin by
committing it. St. Thomas’s consistent position is that
the only kind of lack of awareness of God’s commandments
which can excuse from mortal sin someone who breaks them is
a lack of awareness due to madness or mental handicap,”
Crean also used Thomas’s
teaching to criticize the view that the Church’s sexual
teaching to be an “ideal” that should be aimed
at, but not necessarily lived out.
“Someone who thinks that what he may still call ‘divine
law’ is in fact only a kind of ideal is therefore in
the position considered in the first hypothesis, i.e. such
a person is simply ignorant of the divine law about intrinsically
evil acts, an ignorance which St. Thomas holds to be gravely
sinful,” he said.
He also took aim at the view that one may break a divine commandment
without committing mortal sin if an alternative course seemed
to him to involve a worse sin. Such a position is advanced
in Amoris Laetitia.
“It is impossible for
a person so to entangle his life that there is no longer any
good course left for him to take, and that he must break God’s
law in one way or another," said Crean.
"To claim that this is possible is to say that God’s
law will sometimes make incompatible demands on us, which
would be to blaspheme against divine wisdom,” he added.
Crean concluded by stating that it
is “not possible to combine the state of grace and intrinsically
“While it is possible for men to be ignorant of divine
law and the intrinsic evil of certain kinds of action, such
ignorance does not excuse them from mortal sin, since even
where bad education or a corrupt ambient culture exist as
mitigating factors, their very ignorance is still itself a
mortal sin: a negligence, St Thomas says, to learn those things
whereby we can safeguard ourselves in the love of God,”
he said. .
Crean, 44, took a first class BA in Philosophy and Theology
from St. John’s College, Oxford University before earning
his Lectorate in Sacred Theology from Oxford’s Blackfriars.
He received his Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Institute
of St Thomas Aquinas in Toulouse in 2002. Crean entered the
Order of Preachers in 1995 and was ordained the the priesthood
The author of God is No Delusion: a Refutation of Richard
Dawkins, Fr. Crean was one of the first signatories
of the Filial Correction.