Abdicating the Responsibility of Freedom
In Amoris Leatitia, the pope teaches:
"Natural law could not be presented as an already established set of rules that impose themselves a priori on the moral subject; rather, it is a source of objective inspiration for the deeply personal process of making decisions."
In other words, objective sources of Truth are inspirations we use to form our consciences, but God rules each man personally in their conscience.
For a long time, I wanted the Church to be my conscience for me, to tell me exactly how to vote, how to have sex, and how to use my money. I wanted the Catechism to be a moral handbook that addressed every single detail and decision.
But what I was doing was abdicating my responsibility to form my own conscience. I wasn’t taught how to have a living relationship with the Holy Spirit, to allow his voice to guide my life and decision. I was just a rule follower.
So when I came across a moral question that didn’t have a clear and objective answer from the Church, I turned to apologists and theologians to tell me what to do, treating their opinions as if they were Church teaching because this is all that I knew to do. Following rules made me feel safe. And unfortunately, many apologists and theologians were all too willing to be my conscience for me.
This, I believe, is what Pope Francis is getting at when he says in Amoris Laetita:
"We also find it hard to make room for the consciences of the faithful, who very often respond as best they can to the Gospel amid their limitations, and are capable of carrying out their own discernment in complex situations. We have been called to form consciences, not to replace them.”
We must take up the task of fostering a mature and living relationship with the Holy Spirit and follow his voice echoing in our conscience.