Leave a comment

The Capability of Man to Perceive the “Should”

When the only thing that determines what is morally right is one’s individual, subjective judgment, then there is no overarching moral truth to which all are bound. In such a situation, those who have the greatest power can impose their positions on other, unchecked by any authority apart from themselves. Indeed, such an understanding of the infallibility of a subjective conscience would free from guilt, for example, even those who had committed unspeakable atrocities….

—from the Foreword by John M. Haas of The National Catholic Bioethics Center

+

What characterizes man as man is not that he asks about the “can” but about the “should,” and that he opens himself to the voice and demands of truth.

It seems to me that this was the final meaning of the Socratic search, and it is the profoundest element in the witness of all martyrs. They attest to the fact that man’s capacity for truth is a limit on all power and a guarantee of man’s likeness to God. It is precisely in this way that the martyrs are the great witnesses of conscience, of that capability given to man to perceive the “should” beyond the “can” and thereby render possible real progress, real ascent.

—from On Conscience, a collection of two essays by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVII) – from the first essay Conscience and Truth which was the keynote address of the Tenth Bishops’ Workshop of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, on “Catholic Conscience: Foundation and Formation,” February 1991

on conscience

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: