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Conscience Models

Monday, Jan. 23, 2012

In an article today for the National Catholic Reporter, David DeCosse, director of campus ethics at the Center, explores the reaction of American Bishops to last week's decision by the Health and Human Services Department to require religiously-affiliated organizations to provide insurance for their employees that includes birth control:

On Friday, the Federal Department of Health and Human Services announced that religious institutions would have a year before they would be required to make contraception available at no cost to all female employees. In response, the Catholic Health Association both criticized the HHS statement and called for an 'effective national conversation on the appropriate conscience protections in our pluralistic country." Will the Church in the next year enter into such a conversation and possibly find solutions that balance the concerns of religious freedom with the respect for democratic equality? How this question is finally answered may well depend on what conceptual model of the Catholic conscience the Church brings to the table. 

DeCosse analyzes that model with reference to Thomas Aquinas' definition of conscience as combining obedience to moral law and the exercise of practical reason.

Tags: conscience