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Conscience

Your individual conscience is the final arbiter of what is right or wrong.
“The church, your parents, grandma, no one has the right to suggest that your conscience is wrong or that your conscience makes you a bad Catholic.”
Kate Ott

Our conscience can be described as our knowledge of ourselves, our awareness of the moral principles we are committed to, and our motivation to act.

One of the most fundamental teachings in the Catholic tradition is the primacy of conscience. This doctrine states that Catholics must use their reason to discern ethically complex situations and that our individual consciences should be the final arbiter in all moral decision-making.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that we have the right to act in conscience and in freedom to make moral decisions and that no one should be forced to act contrary to their consciences.

As Catholics, we believe that we must use all of the resources available to us to form our consciences so that we can make the best possible decisions for ourselves, particularly in morally complex circumstances. We believe this is particularly essential when making choices regarding sexual and reproductive health.

Catholics for Choice fights for the rights of all individuals to make decisions regarding sexual and reproductive health based on their own consciences. But we are conscious of the fact that poverty, racism and other forms of powerlessness often limit the possibility of using one’s conscience. For this reason, we also strive to dismantle the structures of injustice that force people into situations in which they have few, if any, choices.

The News Journal of Catholic Opinion

Conscience magazine offers in-depth coverage of vital contemporary issues, including reproductive rights, sexuality and gender, feminism, the religious right, church and state issues, and US politics.

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Questions about Conscience

We've compiled these talking points to help inform Catholic conversations about conscience.

What is a conscience?
What factors inform your conscience?
Are there limits on the ways in which we can use our conscience?