Personal Conscience over Ecclesiastical Authority

‘Over the pope as the expression of the binding claim of ecclesiastical authority, there still stands one’s own conscience, which must be obeyed before all else, if necessary even against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority. This emphasis on the individual, whose conscience confronts him with a supreme and ultimate tribunal, and one which in the last resort is beyond the claim of external social groups, even of the official Church, also establishes a principle in opposition to increasing totalitarianism.’

This is from a commentary by the future Pope. The commentary was on how the teaching of the Second Vatican Council on conscience was in the same line of thought as John Henry Newman. (Commentary on the Doctrine of Vatican II, vol v, p.134, edited by Herbert Vormgrimler)

Do you think he wishes he could take back those words? No, intellectually, he probably still believes it…he just is probably incapable of seeing the issue in the real world.

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