What's Conscience Got to Do With It?


Prior to the release of "Amoris Laetitia," Pope Francis' groundbreaking new apostolic exhortation, in which the role of conscience was reaffirmed in moral decision making, Matt Malone, S.J., and Kerry Weber spoke with moral theologian James Keenan, S.J., for a primer on conscience issues. 

James F. Keenan, S.J., is the Canisius Chair and the Director of the Jesuit Institute at Boston College. He founded Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church and is presently co-chair of its Planning Committee www.catholicethics.com. A Jesuit priest since 1982, he received a licentiate and a doctorate from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Among his recent books are: A History of Catholic Moral Theology in the Twentieth Century: From Confessing Sins to Liberating ConsciencesPaul and Virtue Ethics (with Dan Harrington), and University Ethics: How Colleges Can Build and Benefit from a Culture of Ethics. He is presently writing another book, A Brief History of Catholic Ethics.







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Luke Herro
4 years 4 months ago

Thank you

Kevin Aldrich
4 years 4 months ago

This podcast contains no adequate definition of conscience or how it works.

CCC 1796: "Conscience is a judgment of reason by which the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act."

What does reason judge by? The moral law. Conscience does not determine what the moral law is, only if a concrete act is in accord with it.

William Rydberg
4 years 4 months ago

In my opinion this poor fellow is wrong about the definition of conscience. He thinks it's the core of your moral agency.
I personally find his view that Northern European bishops in the Church understand what conscience is because of the 2nd World War. And the seeming answer that people were "not humble" at the time.
Whereas American/Canadian Church views are different from enlightened Northern European Church members because they didn't go through what they went through (Nazis, Communism?).
Really silly logic in my opinion. I also find it most peculiar that Fr Keenan S. J. Doesn't even persue what revelation says. I won't get in to the issue of the "health" of the Northern European Church here-but, give me a break!
After hearing, this Interview I am left cold. It's as if Fr Keenan S.J. Has somehow "hived off" his studies from his Religion. Sadly, he isn't the first Academic to do so. And frankly, I blame his Religious Superiors. I wish that they would have taken seriously GC35 because the answer to the Conscience question is embedded in GC35 D4, 24,38...etc...

So sad in my opinion, that such a Senior Jesuit Father in such an exalted position is so formed. Again, his Religious Superiors have not adhered in my opinion to GC35 D4 50. Makes one wonder in my opinion about the state of North Eastern American Formation in that Jesuit Province. In my opinion, they ought to change up, ask either for outside help about formation. Or could this be symptomatic of a larger issue, maybe an issue for GC36?

A final comment regarding Slavery. Experts tell us that there are more people in slavery today than several centuries ago. That the primary use of these poor people is sex. The people according to the experts are present in practically every country throughout the world (esp. In Europe, etc..)... This would seem to present a challenge to Father's stream of logic? i.e. all all citizens culpable, if their conscience is uninformed? Northern European superiority goes out the window? Point is I find the arguments to be specious in my opinion.

Just my opinion,

in The Risen Christ,


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