John Mulholland

The letter from Thomas and Patricia Watkin (April AD2000) referred to an earlier letter (February AD2000) from Joe Lopez as containing a paradox regarding conscience.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states (1782), quoting from Cardinal John Henry Newman: "Man has the right to act in conscience and freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. 'He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters'."

The Catechism also deals with the formation of conscience (1783-1785): "Conscience must be informed and moral judgement enlightened" (1783); and "In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path; we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. We must also examine our conscience before the Lord's Cross. We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church" (1785).

So everyone has a right, recognised by the Church, to inform others as to the teaching of the Church. In this regard, I, like Joe Lopez, was delighted at the leadership given by the Victorian bishops during the State elections and even more delighted when the priest spoke from the altar area against voting for the Greens.

Bonnells Bay, NSW

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