In a new column for CNA, “The Common Good with Deacon Keith Fournier”, the author has set out to restore a fuller understanding to the meaning of conscience and how it should shape the way Christians live their faith in the public square, the marketplace, and the entirety of culture. “The phrase common good is at the heart of the social teaching of the Catholic Church. However, many Christians do not even know there is such a body of teaching,” Deacon Fournier, of the Dicoese of Richmond, said in his first post exclusively for CNA. “We need a re-formation of how we view Christian citizenship and our participation in the economic order, the political arena and our full participation in society," he explained. "There has been some poor teaching in the area of moral theology which has exacerbated this confusion." One of the most common mistakes Catholics make in regards to understanding the common good is in the area of moral conscience, he said. Unfortunately, many people “speak as though ‘conscience’ equates with ‘feelings’ or is an aspect of our opinion.” But this is certainly not the case, Deacon Fournier said. Drawing on the Church’s teaching on the formation of moral conscience, he said Catholics are instructed to “educate our consciences to ensure they conform to the truth revealed in Natural Law and expounded upon in Revelation.” This mistake is plain to see in the way some Catholics and other Christians engage in politics, commerce, and public life, he said. Rather than keeping our faith private, and separate from areas such as work and politics, we need to make it a personal, yet properly public matter. “Social truths such as the dignity of every human life, the nature and ends of marriage, the moral foundation of freedom and primacy of religious freedom, our obligations in solidarity to one another — all provide a framework for structuring our social life,” he said, noting that these ideas are not solely religious, but meant to inform the entire social order. For Deacon Fournier, serving at the intersection of faith, culture and public life has long been his passionate interest and life vocation. Along with being a Catholic deacon in the Diocese of Richmond, Va. for almost twenty years, he is a constitutional and human rights lawyer and public policy advocate who served as the founding Executive Director of the American Center for Law and Justice. Currently, he serves as Special Counsel to Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit litigation and policy organization that provides free legal assistance and representation for issues related to religious freedom, family, and the sanctity of human life. Another endeavor for the deacon, founding and serving as chairman of Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance, has now become the primary base out of which he engages in a national apostolate in the broader Christian community. Both organizations are dedicated to the conversion of culture through four pillars of social participation, life, family, freedom and solidarity. Deacon Fournier is a published author and served for years as the Editor in Chief of Catholic Online where he still regularly contributes articles and insights. He is also a senior contributing writer for The Stream. Long active in efforts to bring Christians together across the confessional spectrum, Deacon Fournier is currently writing a new book entitled “May We Be One: A Call to Christian Solidarity” for Worthy Publishing. It should be released in the Spring. To read Deacon Fournier’s first exclusive column for CNA, “Rescuing the Real Common Good”, click here.
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