Current Affairs

Conscience and Communion and Marital Issues

by Steve Ray on October 21, 2015

STEVE RAY HERE: After the excerpts from an interview with Archbishop Cupich there has been a lot of discussion raging around the issue of conscience and divorce and remarriage and gay marriage.

There’s a fear that everyone knows the laws of the Church cannot be changed but they can possibly change the way the laws are applied by making conscience override the word of God.

This article by Jimmy Akin addresses a lot of these issues and it was so excellent I thought I would post it here.

There is a good bit of conversation about how conscience may play a role in the question of whether divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can receive Holy Communion.

For example, Chicago’s Archbishop Blase Cupich discussed the subject at a press briefing in Rome during the synod of bishops.

What the archbishop said or was trying to say is not entirely clear to me from the quotations I’ve seen in the press, and I do not wish to speculate based on incomplete press accounts.

I have, however, received a number of queries about the role of conscience in this area, and a brief look at the question may be in order.

1) Acknowledging past abuses

Some people immediately become suspicious whenever the word “conscience” is brought up in connection with controversial moral subjects.

That’s understandable. The concept has been much abused.
After Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae there was a huge push to justify dissent from the Church’s teaching on contraception using conscience as a guise.

Dissidents were turning Jiminy Cricket’s slogan “Always let your conscience be your guide” into “Always let conscience be your guise.”

This is one of the reasons why the word “conscience” appears more than a hundred times in John Paul II’s 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor and why the Catechism of the Catholic Church has a lengthy section specially devoted to conscience.

The concept has been profoundly abused.

And it’s no surprise that many become suspicious whenever conscience comes up in a moral controversy.

On the other hand, not every invocation of conscience is contrary to Church teaching. So what does the Church teach?

2) The primacy of conscience

It is often stressed that one must obey one’s conscience. This can be a tactical dodge to justify rejection of Church teaching, but it is not necessarily so.

The Church agrees that one must obey one’s conscience. The Catechism states:

A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself [CCC 1790].

In other words, it is a sin to defy a certain judgment of your conscience. If you are certain that you must not do something and you do it anyway, you are sinning by violating your conscience. You are similarly sinning if you are certain that you must do something and you refuse to do it.

Notice that this applies when you are certain. If you are uncertain, the situation can be different.

Even when you are certain, that doesn’t mean that the judgment of your conscience is right. The Catechism continues:

Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed.

What happens when a person’s conscience is wrong? Does that mean he’s off scot-free?


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Catholic World News - October 06, 2015  (for the full letter we sent, please click here)

Over 100 adult converts to the Catholic faith, most of them Americans, have signed an open letter calling upon the Synod of Bishops to affirm Catholic teaching on the indissolubility of marriage.

The signatories include an Australian bishop (Bishop Peter Elliott), the head of the ordinariate for former Anglicans in the United States (Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson), and dozens of laity, many of them associated with universities. In a letter published by Aleteia on October 5, they expressed their

concerns about certain proposals to change the Church’s discipline regarding communion for Catholics who are divorced and civilly remarried. We are frankly surprised by the opinion of some who are proposing a “way of penance” that would tolerate what the Church has never allowed.

In our judgment such proposals fail to do justice to the irrevocability of the marriage bond, either by writing off the “first” marriage as if it were somehow “dead,” or, worse, by recognizing its continued existence but then doing violence to it. We do not see how these proposals can do anything other than contradict the Christian doctrine of marriage itself. But we also fail to see how such innovations can be, as they claim, either pastoral or merciful.


Countdown to Persecution in America

by Steve Ray on August 17, 2015

Two excellent articles (Part I and Part II and Part III). There is no doubt our society is rapidly moving away from it foundations and turning into an intolerant, secular society. When that happens Christians are the first to suffer.

Over the last few years I have been giving a talk entitled “Swimming Upstream: Living a Catholic Life in a Non-Christian World.” It is a scary talk and shocks people into awareness of what is happening around us.

The first Christians lived in a pagan Greco-Roman world. They were a despised and persecuted subculture. They were beheaded, burned alive, fed to lions and every other cruel form of torture and killing.

Within 300 years these suffering Christians turned the world upside down for Jesus Christ. But now we see right before our eyes our once “Christian society” turning against us and rapidly sliding right back into hedonistic, godless paganism.

How do we prepare? What do we do? How should we raise our children?

“For decades, a growing number of the American elite—the people who manage the media and mold the culture, run our great colleges and corporations, and train our lawyers and judges—has been gripped by a growing anger, now becoming a raging envy, against any person, group, church, or institution committed to Christian moral teachings.  Like the (ancient] Romans, these people hear Christ’s truth as an accusation.  They even see Christ’s love on the cross as their condemnation. And strangely enough, they see Christian families not as witnesses for Christ but as witnesses against them. . . . The coalition of liberal secularists and homosexual activists—let’s call them “homosecularists” for short—have some very real goals that they know they can achieve only by driving Christians out of public life.” (Speechless:  Silencing the Christians, Rev. Donald Wildmon (a Methodist minister who founded the American Family Association).

You can learn more about my talk Swimming Upstream here (also entitled Proclaiming the Gospel – same talk). Or I can bring the talk to your parish or organization. You can read these two excellent articles here: Part 1, Part II, Part III.



Expect More of this: “Religious Beliefs belong in your House of Worship or your own Home!”

August 3, 2015

While flying home from Europe two days ago I was reading the USA Today newspaper. There was a section on the new policy of the Boy Scouts to allow openly gay leaders and employees.  One of the comments (see to right) demonstrates two things I have been predicting for a long time. First, we Christians [...]

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If the Feds Demand Same-Sex Marriage, What Will Our Pastors Do?

July 9, 2015

America’s Catholic bishops, and other church leaders, may face a choice between saving souls and the bricks and mortar. Scary article and big question for our bishops. Read the whole article here. 

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The Rainbow: What Is It? What Does it Symbolize? How Has it Been Co-opted and Perverted?

July 9, 2015

I was excited about my appearance today on the Drew Mariani Show on Relevant Radio. We  discussed the RAINBOW – what it is physically, what it symbolizes, it’s biblical use and it’s perversion by modern less-than-savory groups. I have had a great time researching this today and was anxious to share my findings, musings, and [...]

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Hard to Find Good News Sources? Check out this List

July 2, 2015

Thanks to Teresa Tomeo, I am passing along this excellent list of reputable news sources from a Catholic perspective. The National Catholic Register online Vatican News Agency Our Sunday Visitor Newsweekly The Catholic News Agency Watch The World Over with Raymond Arroyo on EWTN and EWTN News online Watch EWTN News Nightly, 6pm ET. You [...]

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Are Gays Born that Way?Most Americans now say yes, but Science says No

June 30, 2015

My Earlier article: Homosexuality in Genes and in Animals? PRINCETON, NJ, May 20, 2015 ( — For the first time, a majority of Americans say that homosexuals are “born that way. According to the latest Gallup poll, 51 percent of Americans say that people are born gay or lesbian, while only 30 percent say outside factors [...]

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Pope Francis’s Encyclical: Updates, Reviews, Critiques

June 23, 2015

A lot is being said about Laudato Si both from supporters and critics — of which I guess I am both. I would fall in the camp of the Acton Institute… Here are eight links worth reading and watching as you digest and work through the new encyclical. 1) Acton Institute critique by my friend [...]

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Draft of Pope’s Environment Encyclical Leaked: 12 Things You Should Know

June 16, 2015

Jimmy Akin has done a great job summarizing the situation and the encyclical to-date. It starts out: With just days to go before the release of Pope Francis’s highly anticipated encyclical on the environment, a draft copy has suddenly appeared on the Internet. Here are 12 things to know and share . . . 1) [...]

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Decision Coming Soon on Medjugorje

June 7, 2015

Pope on Papal Flight: We Are Nearing Making Decisions on Medjugorje; Returning from Sarajevo, Responds to Journalists’ Questions By Deborah Castellano Lubov Vatican City State, June 07, 2015 ( On his return flight from Sarajevo last night, Pope Francis spoke to reporters where he discussed Medjugorje, arms dealers, the right way for young people to use [...]

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Ten Signs that Christianity is on the Rise

May 6, 2015

Article by Tom Hoopes at I am just posting their 10 points. Click here for the whole article and the reasoning behind each of the 10 points. “Christianity is a dying relic of an ancient past. The Internet is killing it. Science is killing it. Western sophistication is killing it. Right? “Wrong. In many ways, Christianity [...]

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More Muslims Getting Revelation that Quran is a Man-Made Book; Demographics & Statistics

April 27, 2015

This is an interesting and insightful piece on Islam. There is no question it will continue to be the growing issue for America, Christians and the freedom of thought and rationality.  A new Pew Research Center study that looks at the future of world religions and potential population growth around the globe found that the [...]

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Who Would Dare to Love ISIS? The People of the Cross, thats’ who

April 25, 2015

The first reaction is to hate ISIS but the People of the Cross, the Christians of the Middle East have sent them a “Letter” in the form of a beautiful video.

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“Religious Liberty Means More than You May Think,” Says Archbishop Chaput

March 20, 2015

Philadelphia, Pa., Mar 18, 2015 / 04:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia warned Tuesday that the United States will face increasing pressure to abandon its traditionally broad protections for religious liberty, though he encouraged Christians never to give up hope in God’s love. Religious liberty, he said, “means much more than the [...]

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We Need More Heroes: Archbishop Cordilone’s Letter which Brought him MUCH Grief

March 16, 2015

It is too bad that a letter stating that Catholic schools must teach according to the truth and morals of the Catholic Church should bring condemnation and threats to an archbishop. Welcome to America in the 21st century. *************************************** Dissenting from Catholic Teaching or the Natural Moral Law in a Catholic High School does not [...]

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