Cardinal Burke attacks false notion of conscience, implicitly criticising the Pope

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We publish an extract of the speech delivered by Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke last 13 April in Rome, in the Temple Hall of Vibia Sabina and Hadrian, on the occasion of the presentation of the book, Èschaton. Jesus of Nazareth and the Future of the World by Cristiano Ceresani, published by Cantagalli.

Conscience, an infallible guide to holiness of life

If we wish to seek holiness of life, to live on earth as true citizens of heaven, that is, to give our life to Christ, without any reservation, our heart must seek its wisdom and strength in His glorious pierced Heart; our conscience must be trained to listen only to God’s voice and to reject that which would weaken or compromise, in any way, our witness to the truth in which He alone instructs us in the Church. Through daily prayer and devotion, knowledge of the saints with whom we are in communion in the Church, and study of the Church’s official teaching, our conscience is formed according to God’s will, according to His law which is life for us.

The very goodness of our actions strengthens our conscience in its consistency with what is true, beautiful and good. It is conscience, the voice of God speaking to souls, which is, in the words of the Holy Cardinal John Henry Newman, ‘the original vicar of Christ’. As such, conscience is always in tune with Christ Himself who instructs and informs it through His Vicar, the Roman Pontiff, and the Bishops in communion with the Roman Pontiff. Cardinal Newman observed that conscience ‘is the messenger of Him, who, both in the world of nature and in the world of grace, speaks to us behind a veil and instructs and governs us through His representatives’.

Today we must beware of a false notion of conscience, which would actually use conscience to justify sinful acts, the betrayal of our status as citizens of heaven on an earthly pilgrimage. In […] his 2010 Christmas address, Pope Benedict reflected at length on the notion of conscience in Cardinal Newman’s writings, contrasting it with a false notion of conscience that is pervasive in our culture. He described the difference between the Church’s understanding of conscience, faithfully and brilliantly taught by Cardinal Newman, and the popular contemporary understanding, in these words…


Cardinal Burke attacks false notion of conscience, implicitly criticising the Pope

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