Conscience and conversion

I’m concerned that two of the three “main elements of Catholic teaching” cited by Father Robert V. Caro, SJ, (March 24 issue) in his defense of Cardinal Robert McElroy’s “radical inclusion” proposal could be wrongly interpreted: “priority of conscience” and “the Eucharist as a profound grace in our conversion to discipleship.”

For Catholics, following our conscience is not merely a matter of “every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes.” (Deut. 12:8; Prov. 12:15.) As the Catechism teaches, conscience “must be informed,” “assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit,” and “guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church.” Wrongful acts based on errors of conscience are excusable only if one’s ignorance is “invincible” or if he “is not responsible for his erroneous judgment.” (CCC 1783, 1785, 1793.)

The Catechism teaches that the Eucharist is a “source and nourishment” for conversion from daily faults. But, more broadly, “conversion entails both God's forgiveness and reconciliation with the Church” through the sacrament of reconciliation. “The Eucharist is not ordered to the forgiveness of mortal sins — that is proper to the sacrament of reconciliation. The Eucharist is properly the sacrament of those who are in full communion with the Church.” (CCC 1436, 1440, 1395.) And as we know, “Whoever … eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.” (1 Cor. 11:27; CCC 1385.)

— Steve Serra, St. Nicholas Church, Laguna Woods

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