376. Can a moral conscience make erroneous judgments?

A person must always obey the certain judgment of his own conscience but he could make erroneous judgments for reasons that may not always exempt him from personal guilt. However, an evil act committed through involuntary ignorance is not imputable to the person, even though the act remains objectively evil. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience.


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Paragraph 1790

1790. A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself. Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed.

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1791. This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is the case when a man "takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin."59 In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits.

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1792. Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one's passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church's authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct.

Paragraph 1793

1793. If - on the contrary - the ignorance is invincible, or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous judgment, the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience.

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1794. A good and pure conscience is enlightened by true faith, for charity proceeds at the same time "from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith."60

The more a correct conscience prevails, the more do persons and groups turn aside from blind choice and try to be guided by objective standards of moral conduct.61

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1801. Conscience can remain in ignorance or make erroneous judgments. Such ignorance and errors are not always free of guilt.

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1802. The Word of God is a light for our path. We must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. This is how moral conscience is formed.


Acesse nossos estudos biblicos:

What is the New Earth mentioned in Revelation 21:1 and what is its importance in the Christian faith?

How can Ruth’s story, from widow to wife, inspire us to trust God and seek a fresh start in our lives?

What is the meaning of the “True Vine” metaphor in John 15:1-8?

What does it mean to be a new creature in Christ, as described in 2 Corinthians 5:17?

What does the Bible teach about the importance of humility and modesty?

The Holiness of the Priesthood: How does the law of priestly holiness in the book of Numbers teach us about the importance of purity and dedication in the worship of God? (Numbers 18:1-7)

How important is Esther’s purpose and mission in Esther 4:14?

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