A well-formed conscience

Father Heath

A Cal Catholic reader emailed us on October 24 about the October luncheon talk given by Father Chris Heath to the Thomas More Society in Orange County. Father Heath is parish priest at St. Edward in Dana Point. Following are excerpts from the talk. (Father Heath’s talk on religious liberty appeared here in April.)

Recently a study was published entitled “What Catholic Women Think about Faith, Conscience, and Contraception.” 824 women gave answers that offer new data about the views of Church-going Catholic women towards contraception and related Church teachings… The data confirms that most Catholic women do not fully support the Church‘s teachings on contraception and natural family planning. No surprise there.

Statistics improved with the level of attendance at Mass and Sacraments, with those who agree with Church teaching being those women who attend daily Mass. Again, no surprise there. What was interesting was one of the conclusions of the authors‘ study: The data underscores the formidable challenge the Church faces in the area of conscience formation, particularly about sexual matters.

Bishop Vann

My talk is not about contraception as such, but I want to use this study to illustrate my main thesis: how does one form a conscience, and what constitutes a fully informed Catholic conscience? According to the study, almost one-third of Church-going Catholic women…incorrectly believe that the Church teaches that couples have the right to decide the moral acceptability of contraception regardless of Church teaching.

Confusion over the morality of contraception reflects women‘s deeper confusion about how – or even whether – Church teaching ought to shape individual conscience in matters of sexual morality. While 63% of Church-going Catholic women say the Church‘s teachings on sex and reproduction influence them, only 21% of this influenced group fully accept the Church‘s teaching on contraception. Moreover, 85% of Church-going Catholic women believe that they can be good Catholics‘ even if they do not accept some of the Church‘s teachings on sex and reproduction.

[They] give many reasons why they reject Church teaching on contraception. Their top reasons highlight issues of conscience formation: 53% of these women say that couples have the moral right to decide which methods of family planning to use – a position that disregards the Church‘s judgment on whether particular methods are morally licit in the first place.

Church-going Catholic women want to do what‘s right. The women surveyed reflect a sincere commitment to faith in their daily lives. But they belong to a generation steeped in moral relativism – a generation…which generally equates conscience with their own moral permission slip, and which judges right and wrong by depth of feeling rather than consonance with objective truth.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the issue: whether we‘re talking about a specific moral teaching like contraception, or speaking generally about Catholic lifestyle, culture, or decision making in other areas like voting, the formation of a specifically Catholic conscience is a huge problem in our time. The study identifies some of the causes of a poorly-formed Catholic conscience: Catholic clergy and lay leaders have ceded the conscience formation of Catholic women to dissenting theologians, contraceptive-promoting medical professionals, and the sexualized popular culture.            By remaining silent we‘ve given people the mistaken idea that people can decide for themselves what to do in a variety of areas of personal and public life as a Catholic….

Our new bishop, Kevin Vann, wrote this in a letter to his flock in Fort Worth in 2008: “We cannot make more clear the seriousness of the overriding issue of abortion – while not the ‘only issue‘ – it is the defining moral issue, not only today, but of the last [now 39] years. Since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, more than [now 55.5 million] innocent lives have been lost….

Bishop Vann wrote: “As Catholics, we are faced with a number of issues that are of concern and should be addressed, such as immigration reform, health care, the economy, the poor, and terrorism… There are many possible solutions to these issues and there can be reasonable debate among Catholics on how to best approach and solve them. These are matters of ‘prudential judgment.‘ But let us be clear: issues of prudential judgment are not morally equivalent to issues involving intrinsic evils. No matter how right a given candidate is on any of these issues, it does not outweigh a candidate‘s unacceptable position in favor of an intrinsic evil such as abortion or the protection of ‘abortion rights.‘”

Faithful Citizenship, as I have illustrated, tries so hard to give all sides to a moral issue that it leaves many Catholics confused, and gives others a rationale to do whatever they were already planning to do. Conscience formation, it should be clear, is a matter of knowing Church teaching and being converted by it, as well as applying it to concrete situations and actions. Americans don‘t like being told what to do, but conversion never happens without confrontation, without the tweaking of the conscience that these principles are supposed to do. If ultimately our conscience is only the exercise of ego and selfish desires, we are not being converted by the truth….

To read the entire text or listen to the talk, click here.


  1. Cole Thornton says

    If I didn’t do my own reading of Catholic teaching, CCC for example, how would my conscience be formed if it was left up to what I hear in sermons on a Sunday basis? My conscience would know that instead of just coming to the parish on a weekday morning to help make a 1,000 sandwiches for some soup kitchen it would be better for me if I also went to the soup kitchen and help dish out those sandwiches. Or maybe all the stories I hear by another pastor about secular people who have written a book or whatever and how that secular example helps to illustrate the Mass readings for that day. Or maybe the pastor who ignores sin and says that he is absolutely sure that God is not recording what I do in my life down on earth. Or maybe the monsignor who sermonized about all the doubts he had when in the seminary about the Catholic faith but never said if he had resolved those doubts and accepted Church teaching. Or maybe the bishop who told the people at the Latin Mass that they could receive the sacraments elsewhere and not just think the only legit sacraments were at the Traditional Form. I would have to say that if these were my only sources of Church teaching would I have a properly formed conscience? This is probably how the majority of the consciences of the women in this article were formed. Do you think St Peter at the pearly gates will accept “well my pastor said so and so”, “the monsignor said so and so”, “there is no sin, Fr XYZ said”. I wonder how many men of the cloth will be held responsible for malformed consciences? I have read soooooo many articles where some bishop talks about taking your Catholic formed conscience to the voting booth on election day. Formed in what and by whom?

    • Abeca Christian says

      Cole don’t neglect also the gifts of the Holy Ghost, God’s graces as well, they have helped me in my spiritual growth. Growing up, my grandmum also prayed for my siblings and I, she was in Mexico while we were raised here in California. She planted the seed of our faith when we visited often and when we were younger but in order to grow, it must be consistent here as well, I just know that the priests have a hard job ahead of them if they choose to teach Catholicity because there is always in big numbers or in higher positions that may actually make it hard for them. I miss the good priests in my life, they were always moved once they stood out as being truly devout and devoted.

      I was never told that condoms or any kind of birth control was against the church until a good friend mentioned to us after I was married but I remember never having any interest in taking those things anyhow, I didn’t care to take anything that may cause issues in my body. I do recall my mum criticizing the pill as being very harmful and it was a big no no in our family growing up.

      I am grateful to our loving and merciful Lord that He put it in my heart to reject those things and as time went on, I learned why they were bad and why the church disapproved of them. I just hope that more young people will be enlighten to make the right choices in Christ.

      • Cole Thornton says

        Abeca – That’s the point. There aren’t nearly enough good moms in the world like your grandmum and my mother. I grew up in a neighborhood with good moms in most every house. Not today. I agree that grace is the supercharger that gets me through every day. If I was growing up today with the examples I listed above on what is said in sermons I can guarantee you that I would be as ‘dumb as a box of rocks’ about my faith. At the bishop synod that just took place in Rome regarding the Year of Faith I read that every bishop could make a 5 minute presentation. One extremely liberal bishop talked about “social justice”, “social justice”, “social justice”, “social justice” for 5 min and concluded that the centerpiece of the evangelizing of the Year of Faith should be …………… you guessed it, “social justice”.

        • Abeca Christian says

          Cole you are right, thinking what a good priest once told me that not everyone has those gifts of graces to not be of this world….I agree also about there not being awesome grandmums like I had. I miss mine so much. Even my own mum and I sometimes bump heads because we don’t seem to agree on some of the important spiritual elements of the faith. It’s sad.

  2. Cole Thornton says

    Oops, I forgot the most important example of conscience formation. The pastor who constantly rails against “rugged individuals” as being egocentric, self absorbed and narcissistic. Sounds like the people who made America what it is today or maybe got the pastor’s parish church building erected. Your conscience needs to know that those are real bad people for proper formation! Add this to your memory bank and you probably will have attained 100% formation!

    • The Protestant ideal of the “Rugged Individual” is on the right track but is not fully informed. Blessed John Paul II’s life work brings this Catholic insight into the nature of the soul to an exhaustive degree of fullness. In other words, this individualism when united with God through Jesus Christ (most powerfully in the Holy Eucharist) is something that God has always desired for mankind. Adam and Eve flubbed it, and then later, the Jews could not handle the responsibility under their Prophets and clamored to have a king ruling over them, and God humored them by giving them a succession of kings. None of these kings proved capable of carrying the will of God forward against all odds, and it finally went downhill until one pagan emperor put the final touches on the Jewish Headstone. At that moment in history, Jesus stepped in and provided the kingship but not many recognized it. The pagans could not square it up with their concept of rulership, and the Jews denied the reality: Thus the Catholic Church was born and guaranteed by God for all time and eternity. Yet today, many there are who cannot see this choice and by default for the most part it seems, simply opt for what they can see … which, as in the case of the ancient Jews, is one of their own to rule over them. Democracy at its zenith is this very same thing, a ruler being chosen by the lowest common denominator … money, power and lust. And the bishops for the most part stir this and promote it.

      • Cole Thornton says

        JLS – This Church and our country did not become what they are today by a bunch of sissies sitting around holding hands dialoging. It was a bunch of “rugged individuals”, fired up with the grace of God, who worked to accomplish what we have today through thick and thin. Many of them also got martyred along the way, no sissies were they!

  3. Anton L. Seidl says

    When was last time you heard from the pulpit that artificial birth control was against the teachings of the Church? Within the past thirty-plus years, I have never heard the subject mentioned even once. Case closed! Our priests and bishops are clearly guilty of dereliction of duty,

    • Seek out the priests who teach the truths God means for us to find. We cannot simply stand by “Waiting for Godot” like those two fools in the play, but must actively look for holy clerics regardless of how hard the struggle.

    • Kenneth M. Fisher says


      If you attended a Tradtional Parish, you would hear it proclaimed often and loudly! As a matter of fact I heard about the evils of contraception this Sunday!

      God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
      Kenneth M. Fisher

  4. Larry from RI says

    this election will give everyone an idea what Faithful Citizenship means in our society or the citizenry is happy with our Lady Ca Ca culture.

  5. CCC: ” 1785 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. ”

    CCC: ” 1792 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. ”

    CCC: ” 1801 Conscience can remain in ignorance or make erroneous judgments. Such ignorance and errors are not always free of guilt. ”

    CCC: ” 1791 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. ”

    Those of you who know about the existance of the “CATECHISM of the CATHOLIC CHURCH, Second Edition”, have a responsibility to read it in entirety.
    When we are judged by Jesus at our death, there will be no excuses for those who are literate.
    The Magisterium has provided the World with the CCC even if your Bishop or Priest has not been doing his job.

  6. Informed and Free says

    I would like to read the entire article but the link only goes to the website not the article.
    Can you post a new link?

    The link we provided offers readers the option of either a written version or an audio version of father’s talk. On the top right side of the page to which we link, just select either the audio or written version.

  7. At our time in history when we so desperately
    need our priests to explain what is meant by an informed (catholic) conscience) the vast majority of them, maybe as many as 95 per cent, don’t want to EVEN TOUCH the subject.
    They would appear to desire human respect more than God’s respect.
    Do they not believe in what they signed on for when ordained or are they moral cowards?

    • This and to insure we do NOT get teachings with errors is exactly why each of us must have and read the “CATECHISM of the CATHOLIC CHURCH, Second Edition”.

      Thank you for helping to prove the point. 🙂

  8. Juergensen says

    It all makes perfect sense, really.

    Fewer than 21% of the bishops preach Humanae Vitae, ergo 21% of Catholic women don’t accept Humanae Vitae.

    Half of the bishops voted for Obama in 2008 (according to EWTN News Chief Raymond Arroyo), ergo 52% of Catholics voted for Obama in 2008.

    Anyone see a pattern?

    • Wait, don’t you mean that since 21% of bishops teach Humanae Vitae, then fewer than 21% of Catholic women accept it? In other words, if only one in five bishops teach it, then only one in five women accept it?

      • I was being generous with the 21% figure; I doubt that many seriously preach Humanae Vitae.

        • What I meant was the grammar construction. The second clause seems to be inverted. Shouldn’t the construct read, If 21% preach, then 21% accept; and thus if 79% do not preach, then 79% do not accept.

          • Juergensen says

            Yes, my bad. It should have read: “Fewer than 21% of the bishops preach Humanae Vitae, ergo 21% of Catholic women accept Humanae Vitae.”

  9. Many Catholics want the choice to form their own consciousness on life issues and ignore church teachings. But, they don’t seem to mind the Obama heath mandate that takes away the right of conscious of the church and individual business owners to not support contraception, sterilization, and abortion drugs. They seem to be o.k. with the Obama government being able to fine and prosecute churches and individuals into submission. We will find out that the Obama health care mandate is not about healthcare for all, but about tearing down the last moral strongholds of our society.

    • One cannot form a unique individual conscience without believing in everything that comes from the mouth of God. Without this faith, one’s conscience is subject to the world, the flesh and the devil … to lust of the eye, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life (vainglory). But in Christ one’s conscience develops on an individual level, by unique custom personal teaching. The key here is “in Christ”, and this is what the Sacraments accomplish. One can however short circuit the Sacraments by not believing the truth of them, and thus assigning false meaning to them.

  10. A faithful Catholic obeys and aligns himself with the magisterium of the Catholic Church. A well formed conscience accepts and welcomes the Ten Commandments and the teachings of the Catholic Church as an important moral compass and “inspired” guide to those of us who are lacking in the wisdom and knowledge of God’s will—which would be most of us. In laymen’s terms, means, Our Catholic Church is not a democracy and the 10 Commandments are not opinions which a soul can pick and choose from. A soul has free will, yes—but that doesn’t mean that an unformed soul would choose well. As Catholics we must vote, and we must vote as well catechized Catholics—against abortion, same-sex marriage, and to protect religious freedom—all of which are not supported by the Democratic platform! It’s pretty clear that a faithful Catholic cannot support any democrat during this election cycle. It is our duty to always convey our faith in the public square, but not to allow the public to dictate to the Church–ever.

  11. Father Karl says

    The Catholic Church has always taught that in order to serve God, we must first love Him; but before we love Him, we have to know Him. Knowledge is very important. Ignorance also playus a part in deminishing the guilt of the “sinner” and inthis way, the Church is much more lenient than the State or civil society. If a citizen breaks a law, he is still considered guilty even though he had no prior knowledge of the law. For the past fifty years, bishops and educators have been grossly derelict in their duty to teach the ten commandments and the laws of Holy Mother Church. Our Lord commanded that the apostles and their successors, “Go forth and teach ‘the truth’. Instead of obeying Our Savior, those entrusted to instruct, have ignored Christ’s command. Therefore, because both men and women have no clue to proper Catholic morality or it’s basic articles of the Faith. Hopefully during this year of Faith and Evangelization which Pope Benedict XVI has promoted, the faithful will be enlightened to live good Christian lives in harmony with what always has been holy and true.

    • I often read the idea that the Church has failed to teach and thus its members are ignorantly running hog wild in sin. This idea depends on the assumption that individuals have no innate call to seek the truth, and that the responsibility decends on the clergy. This issue is not completely clear to me, and I believe it needs some further treatment. I do not recall seeing the argument hashed out in any of the Doctors I have read; however, it’s gotta be there somewhere and probaly many of them have explained it … in the exhaustive manners of Saints such as Augustine and Aquinas, or perhaps also the great Mystics of Catholicism. If I read it, it escapes my memory … not easy to do. But of course with God all things are possible : ))

      • “This issue is not completely clear to me,” says JLS. Well, then, let’s make it clear using Ezekiel 3:18-19, where the Lord instructs Ezekiel to warn the Israelites to correct their behavior:
        “If I [the Lord] say to the wicked man, You shall surely die; and you [Ezekiel] do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his wicked conduct so that he may live: that wicked man shall die for his sin, but I will hold you responsible for his death.19 If, on the other hand, you have warned the wicked man, yet he has not turned away from his evil nor from his wicked conduct, then he shall die for his sin, but you shall save your life.” In both cases–that is, the sinner WAS warned, the sinner was NOT warned–the sinner will die, that is suffer eternal punishment, if he does not stop sinning. The only question is whether the prophet will die along with him, for not having warned him. We cannot assume that obstinate sinners will be excused by God because they had inadequate teachers. The fact is, they had the pope, the Scriptures, the catechism and their own consciences.

        • Good intro, Larry. One thing though, is that you’re equating “wicked” with “sinner”. Care to explain why they seem identical to you?

          • “…You’re equating “wicked” with “sinner”. Care to explain why they seem identical to you?” Because they are.

          • Larry, would you call someone who misses Mass on Sunday because they got out of bed too late wicked? Yes, they would be a sinner on such account, but wicked? Wicked implies entrenched partnership with the devil or against God, a soul who sins for the purpose of sinning. Are you a fundamentalist who views all sinners as wicked? Drunk drivers sometimes kill and maim people, but would you call them wicked? Young teen boys beating up gays … are these boys wicked? The woman who screams at her preteen daughter for sassing her, is she a wicked woman? Have you ever called us all sinners? Would you then call everyone wicked? Are you, Larry, a Calvinist?

          • You’re asking all the wrong questions. You should be asking “what was God speaking about to Ezekiel?” He was clearly talking about unrepentant, self-satisfied, serious sinners, and clearly the point is that lifelong invincible ignorance of the moral law is impossible for mentally competent adults, because that moral law has been imprinted by God in every human conscience from Adam and Eve onward. That is why Cain was held responsible for Abel’s murder. That is why God sent the flood of Noah to punish the human race at that point–all this long before the Ten Commandments were given to Moses. This is in clear contrast to Divine Revelation as given by God to His Church, which includes such principles as the existence of the Trinity, Jesus’ Divinity, Mary’s sinlessness, the necessity of belonging to the Catholic Church, etc–of which lifelong invincible ignorance is not only possible, but is possessed by many, many people. So let’s stick to the point and not confuse the issue.

    • Amen! My ladies Bible study group were discussing what we thought were the most serious faults of Vatican II and most of us agreed it was the lack of teaching about contraceptives. A couple thought it was switching from Latin to English. Everyone agreed that by forcing changes too fast caused serious inroads in the faith of the Church. Usuallly the Church takes so long to make changes…what was the big fat hurry back then?

      • I still am not convinced that the break from true Catholicism has to do with teaching … rather it has to do with preferences and no faith. This includes countless faithless windbag bishops …Oops, sorry, I meant to say moneybag bishops. But I am happy that the Church continues to have some outstanding bishops who are faithful … perhaps even some holy bishops. Can anyone come up with more than a half … no, make it a full … no, make it a baker’s dozen faithful to at least the edge of holiness bishops. Can your sentimentalism when you look for one … just get down to the core of it, the bare bones holiness. On this site I’ve read only a few names of bishops extolled by bloggers. And extolling requires evidence, evidence, evidence of holiness.

        • Your sad and tired pinpointing of clerics is getting very old and very ridiculous. Please be reminded that the vast majority of people in the Church are US, the laity. If you want holiness in the Church, aim your words not only on the clerics, but on the vast majority of Catholics who need to be holy, that is, the lay people. Really, your constant, incessant rants of clerics smacks of anti-clericalism.

          • Abeca Christian says

            jon you get tired of the good a person conveys? That says a lot for yourself, speak for your self but I am tired of your ranting!

          • jon, Why would you advocate giving up? When the clerics become holy is the time to rest … In other words, jon, there really is no rest this side of Heaven.

  12. Hmn, one way to seek the truth is to first get rid of the obstructions, such as … oh, say … bad bishops and clerics.

  13. So 80% of Catholic laity disagree with the teaching on birth control? No surprise here. Pope Paul’s decsion to uphold the traditional teaching in 1968 was the biggest failure in modern Church histroy. Both the Population Commission and the committee of cardinals that reviewd the Commission’s findings recommended that the traditional teaching be overturned. Pope Paul waited two years after receiving the those reports to uphold the old teaching, and the Church has never been the same.

    This is not a case of liberal theologians poisoning the Chruch, it’s a case of a very bad decision by a modern Pope. The laity are right on this, it was a bad decison that the laity disregard and most US priests quietly ignore. Disagreeing with the Pope on birth control paved the way for the laity to disagree on other matters. The birth control disaster was the touchstone for disagreeing on other issues. The Church brought on that crisis itself.

    Popes make mistakes, too, and there is widespread agreement inside the institutonal Church, much less the laity, that Paul got it wrong and his decisoin damaged the Chruch.

    • ‘CATECHISM of the CATHOLIC CHURCH, Second Edition’ –

      CCC: ” 2370 Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom.
      In contrast, every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” is intrinsically evil:

      Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality. . . . The difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle . . . involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality. ”


      CCC: ” 2399 The regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible fatherhood and motherhood.
      Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception). “

    • You are correct that the Pope ignored the advice from his cardinals and commissions, for good or bad. You are also correct that the lay people used this to outwardly question Church teaching in other areas. This is a time when people were starting to question a lot of what was going on in the Church. Since then, it seems that there has been a constant barrage about sex. Don’t do this, don’t do that, etc. When the Church is mentioned in the papers it is either about a sex crisis, about sex teaching, about : you name it. Every time the church speaks out on only one subject, the more it makes evangalization more difficult. It needs to speak out more on trafficing of children in our cities, people who cannot get jobs because of the greed of company management, the high cost of food, the lack of health care, the way people are treated by their companies, the break up of families, the fact that 23 million people are out of work, the fact that 23% of kids in this country are malnourished and go to bed hungry. There is so much more to Catholic teaching and tradition than just sex and gay issues. We need to speak out more about what we are for and less about what we are against.

      • You still don’t get it, Bob One: It is not a matter of the Church speaking out, but a matter of the bishops becoming holy. You need to study up on what holiness consists of. If a bishop is holy, then all the things he does and says will be perceived as a true witness to God. Lip service and costumes does not quite rise to the same level, Bob One.

        • JLS, define holy. I doubt that many Bishops get up in the morning and determine that they just don’t want to be holy that day. They, I assume, get up and say their prayers, say Mass, have breakfast and drive to the office. When they get there, do they decide that they are going to teach the opposite of what the Church teaches? I doubt it. But, as usual I ready to have you help me out.

          • Holy means having to do with God. Bob One, incredible that you define a bishop as if he lived in the same warp and woof as a typical professional. This may be difficult for you, but ask yourself why the Pope has requested the bishops to “become holy”, and why one of his Vatican cardinals advised bishops to stop being administrators and start being bishops.

    • 80% of the population do not get to approve sin, goodcause.

      Yes, the communication from the Vatican was very slow and limited prior to the internet.
      Now we don’t have to wait for Bishops, Priests or Nuns to give us info.
      The Vatican has its own web site.

      Natural Family Planning is very scientific these days.
      The Church has proven itself right again.

    • The grave immorality of artificial contraception has been the constant and universal teaching of the Magisterium. It is infallible and cannot be mistaken.

    • Kenneth M. Fisher says


      Apparently you don’t know or refuse to accept the FACT that only the Pope is infallible in his Ex-Cathedra teachings, and those of the Bishops who are in union with him!

      By the way, what the heck is the “Good Cause” you seem to promote? Is it disobedience to the infallible teachings of the Church?

      God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
      Kenneth M. Fisher

      • Kenneth, you know about these things better than most of us. I know that when the Pope speaks ex-cathedra, that it is infallible. I was also under the impression that the last time a Pope invoked infalibility was the promolgation of the Immaculate Conception. Does he always speak ex-cathedra or only on certain items?

        • Kenneth M. Fisher says

          Bob One,

          I assume that you really are not aware of the Church’s teachings on “Infallibility”. The Pope is only infallible when he speaks “Ex Cathedra” that is on matters of Faith and Morals! The Bishops speak infallibly when they support the Pope, in other words, they are in Union with the Pope!

          God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
          Kenneth M. Fisher

  14. Dennis Babson says

    Evidently 100% of those in these comments section understand (Christ’s) Church teaching. There’s a reason that the word Church begins w/ a upper case capital C. It’s a proper noun, it is significant, Jesus said, “…and upon this rock I will build my Church,” not churches. If we can determine the teaching of the Church and our consciences are properly formed, are we an anomaly? How’d we get that way and the remaining 79% “didn’t know”? Maybe they don’t want to know……..

  15. Could this possibly mean that 79% of Catholic women think for themselves?

    • If living according to one’s own predilections as opposed to following the teachings of the Church is ‘thinking’ for themselves, then oh,my yes, such women are really geniuses. Mindless obedience to the status quo and living in the zeitgeist of the age is to my way of thinking hardly thought at all but knee jerk responses to worldly desires and fears. I’ve found that since I’ve become Catholic, I’ve never had to use my brain so often or so intensely! ;o) Or is that what you meant?

    • No Jim, it means they do not know the requirements of their Faith,
      or if they do – they commit Sacrilege against the Body and Blood of Jesus if they recieve Holy Communion.

      This is not just women, but their husbands as well.

      People are not pigs. The can easily refrain from sex one week each month.

    • Jimbo, Your misery may love company but it does not justify the behavior you so dearly embrace.

  16. Mbûkû Kanyau Mbithûka says

    Year of faith CCC; get it out and read it.

  17. ” …data confirms that most Catholic women do not fully support the Church‘s teachings”

    Eve did not fully support the teachings in the garden either. Both are forbidden fruit.

    Priests and Bishops will be held to account for this laity apostasy. I’ve never heard a diocesan priest preach catholic teaching with regard to the intrinsic evil of contraception. It is a mortal sin, and so is not being a good shepherd with regard to failure in this arena.

  18. In the age of bogus feminism, it’s tough for a single Catholic man to find a good Catholic woman.

  19. As a convert to the faith, I was very thankful when we got a new pastor who started an RCIA program based on the CCC. Previously, we had been dismissed after the Liturgy of the Word and “openned the scripture”. There were alot of drop outs. I almost did. But, I really wanted to be Catholic. Thanks to the new program, I was able to make a good first confession and I still go to confession monthly. I couldn’t vote for Obama the first time because of his record on abortion. I knew that because I know the CCC. Our deacon currently has classes on the CCC the 4th Sunday of the month. Maybe if more parishes did the same, more catholics would have better formed consciences.

  20. Linda Maria says

    Our Holy Father and his Church leaders need to get busy and form a truly good Church, teaching, preaching, and practicing our Catholic Faith and Morals daily, as they used to do, before the 1960s and pre-Vatican II!! Very few clergy and laypeople of today, are well-trained in their Faith, and have a well-formed moral conscience!! It is alarming, as the years go by, that the recent Popes and top church leaders do not seem to care, and allow the Devil and “fallen” secular world to take over, and totally destroy Christ’s holy mission on Earth!! Our Catholic parishes, schools, and institutions are nearly dead, so many of them are terribly immoral and heretical!! So many millions of souls are lost!!

    • I attended eight years of Catholic elementary school with religious studies every day, being an altar boy for several days each week and almost every Sunday. I attended a public high school but had religious classes every week. In college, I attended weekly Newman Club meetings. They poured the catechism into our heads, but they never evangelized us. The Primate of all Ireland just said that about his country’s approach to religion. We need to accept God and live the life he told us to live, but the cathechism doesn’t do the job It is a rule book, not a book on how to live. In fact, the Pope just stated that the catechism that he wrote was intended to be a reference book for Bishops. Read the propositions from the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization released last week and you will see how the catechism should be used and all of the other suggestions for turning the Church around and making it more relevant in the world. One suggestion is that we start using more traditional church practices, as you suggest.

      • “…The Pope just stated that the catechism that he wrote…”? What catechism are you talking about, Bob One? The Catechism of the Catholic Church was written under the direction of Pope John Paul II and the supervision of a committee of Cardinals chaired by Cardinal Ratzinger–a collaborative effort which cannot be said to have been written by Ratzinger. It was published by JPII’s authority. In his Apostolic Constitution “Fidei Depositum,” the late pope writes, “Therefore, I ask the Church’s Pastors and the Christian faithful to receive this catechism in a spirit of communion and to use it assiduously in fulfilling their mission of proclaiming the faith and calling people to the Gospel life. This catechism is given to them that it may be a sure and authentic reference text for teaching Catholic doctrine and particularly for preparing local catechisms. It is also offered to all the faithful who wish to deepen their knowledge of the unfathomable riches of salvation (cf. Jn 8:32).” The catechism was indeed offered for the purpose you cite, but you are seriously mistaken if you think that its personal use by the laity is excluded from the list of reasons for which it was written and published. The last sentence I quoted above makes this clear.

      • Bob One, I went to school also. They taught us to identify the problem and then find the solution. Not all schools do that.

    • Kenneth M. Fisher says

      Linda Maria,

      Pope Benedict is constantly teaching on Faith and Morals. It the people, the Pastors, the priests, and the Religious don’t listen, then it is their fault, and they will suffer the consequences!

      God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
      Kenneth M. Fisher

  21. It’s a lot lower than 21%. This might just be among a mixture of Traditional Catholics and Nervous Ordos. NFP is birth control and is a mortal sin. It is a 20th Century modernist creation to limit/eliminate births among “catholics”. God opens and shuts the womb, not you!!!! It violates the primary end of marriage as noted by Pope Pius XI in Casti Connubii. I am the 7th child in a large family. If my parents had practiced NFP and/or pills, I would be NFP’d/pilled out of existence. And the tragedy of that would be that I’m the only person in my family that has ANY sense of traditional Catholicism. The 3 seers of Fatima would have been NFP’d out of existence too, because they were the 7th, 7th and 9th children of large families. Stop practicing NFP and have large families. St. Catherine of Siena was the 24th child of her parents, and they had very little. They didn’t have 2/3 cars, 2 working parents, pricey vacations, big houses, 20 web devices, etc. This stuff will only lead you to hell. You don’t choose the size of your family, God does!

    • DORKFEST seems to have appointed him/herself pope. Humanae Vitae is firm, explicit and unambiguous: periodic sexual abstinence for motives of spacing out births, due to serious reasons, is perfectly moral and not in the least sinful. Periodic abstinence involves no tampering either with biology or the performance of the act–as such, it falls under no Divine prohibition.

      • Abeca Christian says

        Thank you Larry for your comments and also I thank Mr. Fisher. Because I am a high risk candidate of dying if I was to get pregnant again, I had to get a dispensation to Use/ NFP. My last pregnancy I almost died and because I risk of having the same complications, a wonderful priest helped me to understand why NFP was good for me due to my situation. I lost 4 pregnancies and my last one, my baby had no chance of surviving and I would of died too….at Least I am very grateful for the 3 children that I do have now.

        • Kenneth M. Fisher says


          In my humble opinion, you certainly fit the proper reasons for using God’s gift of NFP.

          I am very certain that the many faithful priests, religious, bishops, cardinals and Popes I have known would totally agree!

          God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
          Kenneth M. Fisher

    • Kenneth M. Fisher says


      Never compare NFP with “the pill”!

      Learn what the Magisterium actually teaches on NFP. The church only allows NFP for serious reasons. If one uses NFP for frivolous reasons, one wil suffer the consequences!

      God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
      Kenneth M. Fisher

      • Abeca Christian says

        Also I don’t want to offend but Dorkfest? why that name? Is that a real last name or is it a made up, I was just wondering.

    • Dorkfest … St Paul teaches that man and wife may abstain, but when they do, then they should spend the time in prayer. Thus, NFP is acceptable.

  22. causes of a poorly-formed Catholic conscience: Catholic clergy and lay leaders have ceded the conscience formation of Catholic women to dissenting theologians,

    These dissenting theologians are largely also priests, are they not? Mostly men too who offer Mass, pray a lot, go on retreats, and all those things which so set the clergy apart from the laity. Women ask themselves why shouldn’t they believe them. We have been taught to listen to priests first and foremost. Then nuns.

    • Kenneth M. Fisher says


      Most of those dissenters you mention above can be found at the annual dissent fest, the Archdiocese of Lost Angel’s REC!

      When I spoke in Scotland about the REC, I told them that they can trace probably all of the errors they are having to fight to the REC.

      God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
      Kenneth M. Fisher

  23. Bob One, for once, this time only we agree, and that is regarding the CCC. When I read it, it strikes me as a book of etiquette i.e., how to get along and behave in our daily lives. I can envision Ann Landers or Dear Gabby having written many of the columns. How much does it really teach us about our Catholic Faith and History? Very little when compared to the Old Baltimore Catechism and the outstanding Catechism of the Council of Trent of yesteryears which both can be found on-line unabridged. (Don’t settle for a modern translation/interpretation.) DORKFEST, To avoid hasty misconstrutions and misrepresentations, based on your written comments above, my understanding is that you agree with abstinence from coitus and that act is not a sin; however coitus interruptus, the morning-after pill (abortificants), birthcontrol pills, and other forms of contraception you would disagree with and their implementation is sinful. If that is your position then, I agree with you. Perhaps Larry didn’t comprehend or misinterpreted your comments.

    • I misunderstood nothing. DORKFEST wrote: “NFP is birth control and is a mortal sin.” The initials stand for “Natural Family Planning,” and this involves periodic abstinence with no alterations whatsoever performed either with the act itself or the bodies of the participants. It is simply a method of determining the ideal time of the month either to abstain in order to avoid conception, or to have intercourse in order TO conceive. It is true that if NFP is used for frivolous reasons–i.e., because the couple would simply rather enjoy life without children–then their lack of generosity in refusing to transmit the gift of life would constitute a sin. But unlike contraceptive actions, devices or drugs, NFP is NOT intrinsically evil, because it involves self-control, not hedonistic abandon. In order to argue that NFP IS sinful, you would have to prove that married couples are morally obligated to have sexual intercourse every day of their married lives, barring unforeseen impediments such as sickness or lack of opportunity. I know of no respected Catholic authority who has held this position–and it is contradicted by St. Paul who approved of couples periodically abstaining BY MUTUAL CONSENT–although he did not recommend or approve of permanent or even long-term abstinence by the couple. Either DORKFEST does not know what NFP is, or he is from a sedevacantist faction which does not recognize Pope Paul VI’s authority and holds itself out as holier than the current Magisterium. Either way, it is HIS statement which is gravely in error–not mine.

      • You should go to Audiosancto.org. There is clear guidance on this topic. Type in “periodic abstinence and nfp” in the search function.

        Good luck!

        • Onosurf: My concern with the website to which you refer us is that neither the individuals who run the website nor the priests whose sermons are archived there are identified–and indeed the website has a list of rules which forbid the identification either of the priests who speak the sermons or the locations where they are spoken. “You may not, under any circumstances, identify the priests preaching these sermons or the location where they are being preached…” says the website to its users. Of course, this is impossible anyway because this information is never listed to begin with. According to the “about” page, the site is “created and maintained by Catholic laymen who record and publish sermons by Catholic priests, with the permission of the priests who preach them.” The site also claims that the unidentified priests whose sermons are found on the site are “Catholic Priests, in good standing with their local ordinaries and Rome, incardinated with normal faculties and jurisdiction, and serving in North America.” Of course, this claim cannot be independently verified. I listened to the above sermon on NFP. The priest mentions that the masses which he celebrates include the “Last Gospel,” which is a feature of the 1962 Tridentine mass, but NOT the Novus Ordo. So it stands to reason that this priest is either a member of The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, or is a diocesan priest who celebrates the Extraordinary Rite at the request of parishioners, OR IS A MEMBER OF SSPX. Since it is impossible to establish exactly who these men are and are NOT–I must strongly recommend AGAINST using the website mentioned by Onosurf in his 10:29 a.m. message to me. There should not be the appearance that they are hiding anything.

          • They are FSSP priests.

            You should be more charitable, Larry. Perhaps the reason they remain anonymous is because the priests, in the past, have gotten too many emails/calls from people outside their church/flock.

            Nevertheless, I listen because it is nice and refreshing to hear Catholic Dogma that is not watered down or ambiguously presented.

          • And I should just take YOUR word for this–someone whose name and veracity I don’t know–someone I’ve never met? The fact is, that website is completely anonymous. Nobody is identified. Not the webmaster, not the group that maintains it, not the location where it is based and not the individuals who preach or the locations where they preach. That’s a little too much secrecy for me. It strongly suggests there is something to hide. Why should they hide the fact that they are with FSSP? There’s nothing wrong with that. Why should the people behind the website not identify themselves? What danger are THEY in? No–I’m sorry. I want to make sure I’m not getting my spiritual advice from SSPX. There are some commentators here to which that wouldn’t make any difference. There are others, such as myself, to which it would–and for that reason I appreciate a little truth-in-labeling.

          • I agree, if Audio Sancto included SSPX sermons, it would be far better. Nevertheless, it has solid catholic sermons/teaching.

            The sermons will definitely be a turn-off to lukewarm catholics, protestants, and atheists.

          • Larry makes a good point. Not only does one have to evaluate ie discern what is said or read, but who says or writes it.

          • In the Vatican II era/error, this goes without saying.

          • Kenneth M. Fisher says


            Apparently you are not aware of the sad state of the Church.

            Many priests and lay persons remain anonymous because they have seen others who spoke out crucified by the very persons who should be protected them when they teach the fullness of the Faith.

            I happen to know many of the priests who speak out on this site, one in particular has been crucified over and over and over again, yet he still is a faithful priest of God. I won’t mention his name here because I don’t want to add to his Cross by being identified with me. Now do you understand?

            God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
            Kenneth M. Fisher

          • I am very well aware of the miserable state of the Church, and have been for forty-some years, since I was a teenager. I have often commented on that miserable state in these posts–so let’s not get into a competition about which one of us is more hip to the depths the Church has sunk. I may not have had the opportunity to meet popes and run for office and speak in foreign nations that you have–but I too have paid some dues, even if those dues were mere “widow’s mites.” I am also a journalist, and it is a simple fact that anonymous sources don’t have nearly the authority as named and known sources–and I prefer not to get my information from people who, for whatever reason, do not dare to name themselves to me. That having been said, I was reminded even today of the sad state of things. At my parish on Sunday mass, it is customary during the general intercessions for the lector to, after the petition for all the sick, ask the congregation to “speak out loud” the name of any sick person for which they desire to pray. For a few moments, a hundred or so people mumble sotto voce the name of someone they want to pray for. All you really hear is an unintelligible murmuring–so I guess the point is that only God can understand it. Then the lector does the same in regard for all the dead the congregation wishes to pray for–and so forth. Today, as a surprise, the lector also prayed for vocations to the priesthood, and called on the congregation to “speak out loud” the name of any young person they thought might have a religious vocation. There was DEAD SILENCE until the lector called out the next petition. You could have heard a spider weaving a web across the nave. Not a single name was whispered by a single person. No one knew of anyone–ANYONE–who might have a religious vocation. This is not the sign of a grace-filled people–but of exactly the opposite. Yes–I am well aware.

  24. This is caused by a clear failure of the teachers (top to bottom, religious and non-religious) in the modern church and parents. Failure to teach God’s Commandment thou shalt not kill. Failure to repeat it over and over again. Failure to teach the great importance of living holy virtuous lives, and what holy virtuous lives are according to Roman Catholic teaching. Yes, Virginia Slims and the world were more successful at teaching and changing modern catholic women than Holy Mother the Church. As the late 1960s/early 1970′s jingle sang: “You’ve come a long way baby, to get to where you belong.” The sad thing is they are going to get where they belong alright because God as our Supreme Judge is going to make a decision for each and everyone of us. God doesn’t run the universe like a democracy nor popularity contest, but rather by His Rule and His Laws–like it or not and believe it or not! He makes the final decision on each of where we will spend eternal life, with Him or in hell. It is just so sad by modern women opposing official ancient Church teaching, performing birthcontrol like via aboritificants (morning after pill), and approving and participating in abortions without sorrow for these sins, (the murder of their precious God-given children angers God), penance, and amending their lives, they give up eternal happiness in Heaven for temporary selfishness here on earth. It certainly is not worth it! Besides every newborn child is a lifetime of beautiful happenings and blessings. In reality, these modern women have gone a long way baby, to where they are going to belong. Imagine how they’re faithful to Church teaching, family-centered grandmothers now in heaven must be crying for the souls of their modern adult guilty of abortificants and abortions granddaughters. What is more precious than an innocent baby?

    • Kenneth M. Fisher says


      Good post; however you left out a very important thing, and it is something that is so important that the Mother of God in all of Her apparitions has never failed to mention, and that is Catholic Modesty.

      I knew on Monday morning that the monster was going to win because in my “Power Point” Class we had to show slides of our vacations. When I saw what some of the women were proud of, I knew that they had “eyes but will not see”. They were actually proud of their almost total nakedness in their very skimpy bikinis. It is then that I knew that the spiritual awakening America so needs to recover is still not here!

      God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
      Kenneth M. Fisher

  25. For each of us to do our required (yes required) parts in Evangelizing – carefully read the info on the site – ” What Catholics REALLY Believe SOURCE “.

    We no longer can blame others. We must take the initiative to do what is right ourselves since the Magisterium has given us the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition”. No excuses when we stand before Jesus at our judgement.

    Father Geno Sylva of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for promoting the New Evangelization said: “There are two levels to the New Evangelization.
    1) First is the FORMATION and EDUCATION of those who practice the faith, so they can be better witnesses and evangelizers in their own lives to those in their family, their neighborhood and their workplace.
    2) The other level is to REACH OUT to the secular culture, to people who are away from the Church or who are seeking something better, and to put together arenas where they can feel comfortable coming to find something they are looking for. ”

    Also consider giving Catholic Bibles and CCCs for Christmas gifts and other special occasions.

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COMMENTS POLICY: Comments are limited to 750 characters and will be truncated at 750. Comments should not contain offensive or libelous language. Please strive to be civil. All comments are subject to approval by our moderator and to editing as the moderator deems appropriate. Inclusion of your email address is optional.