Many of my friends, including fellow Catholics, are very liberal in their politics, including being “pro-choice.” In the many years of speaking with these friends I’ve encountered one overriding constant – an embrace of moral relativism. Moral relativism is the view that right and wrong are relative. A person who subscribes to this view would say that he/she is the arbiter of what is right and wrong, in other words, something may be right for you but wrong for me. A typical answer as to what is the basis of your values,? for example, would be “my heart.” This view flies in the face of Christianity, Scripture in general and the Catholic Church in particular. As I’ve pointed out in a previous post of June 30, 2010 on this blog , this view is a self-refuting fallacy. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is very strong on how we should use conscience, it states that we will be judged for wrong conscience decisions. Article 6 Section 1777 states as follows: “Moral conscience, present at the heart of the person, enjoins him at the appropriate moment to do good and to avoid evil. It also judges particular choices, approving those that are good and denouncing those that are evil. It bears witness to the authority of truth in reference to the supreme Good to which the human person is drawn, and it welcomes the commandments. When he listens to his conscience, the prudent man can hear God speaking.” Is the “pro-choice” Christian hearing God when choosing the “pro-choice” position? I don’t think so.
As a Catholic, I’ve noticed that my fellow Catholic friends who hold this view have come to this view based on their right to “conscience.” However, this is a common error. conscience in Catholic Teaching requires that the “conscience” be an informed one, not merely my personal preference. In other words, if you claim “conscience” for your decision, it must be able to stand the test of truth, knowledge, and be supported by facts. Pope Benedict XVI has written brilliantly on the problem of conscience wrongly applied. In his book “On Conscience,” the Pope states: “Liberalism’s idea of conscience was, in fact, presupposed here: Conscience does not open the way to the redemptive road to truth – which either does not exist or, if it does, is too demanding. It is the faculty that dispenses with truth” (p.16). He further explains: “the identification of conscience with superficial consciousness, the reduction of man to his subjective, does not liberate but enslaves. It makes us totally dependent on the prevailing opinions, and debases these with every passing day. The reduction of conscience to subject certitude betokens at the same time a retreat from truth” (pp.21-22).
My liberal Catholic or Christian friends have been convinced by our culture, reinforced by Hollywood, the media, the University, and their other liberal friends that if they think that something is right for them then they’re in, even if it is wrong, such as abortion. Now, the easy first question here is wait a minute! This is a huge issue – life and death, not whether I like chocolate ice cream or vanilla. The question of abortion is akin to you committing murder and rationalizing it as a “choice of conscience.” You need to have a better measure of your conscience for this. This question came to me when I was “pro-choice” prior to my 40s. One of the most compelling reasons I chose to become pro-life was that I finally understood that such a huge issue as life and death cannot rest on “my conscience” without sufficient logical and reasonable documentation. I kept asking myself, if I were to appear before the Lord and asked to give a defense of my “conscience” position regarding abortion could I provide a sufficiently strong case? And what would that case be based on?