Many of say that conscience rights is under attack. And with good reason. Take for instance the US Senate’s recent rejection of conscience rights viz. President Obama’s healthcare fiasco. So, a reasonable question is what the understanding of the role of conscience in moral decision making?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (par. 1790-93) states the following about erroneous judgement:

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.

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.” In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits.

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.

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.