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25 January 2017 Changing the Conversation (170509) Celebrating More Than 50 Years (170509) Conscience-Based Moral Judgments (170509) Dignitaries Humanae (170509) False Views on Jesus' Views on Divorce (170509) Mission and Human Rights (170509) Jesus and the Ordination of Women (170516) 29 May 2017 How much of Church Doctrine do we really believe? (170602) Trump Pulls Out of Paris Agreement (170602) 05 June 2017 Thoughts on Religious Vocations: An Open Letter to Pope Francis (170605) I can't get the institutional church out of my system (170618) 25 June 2017 Just War? Enough Already (170703) What would Teilhard say? Evolve or be annihilated (170710) Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (170719) Religion's Wax Nose (170726) American Civil Religion (170731) A Heresy of the Times (170807) Cardinal Calls for Global Church (170818) The Price of Being a Prophet (170821) The Implosion of the Roman Catholic Church (170902) Reflection on Racism in America (170913) Who am I? Where am I going? (170918) One Priest's Hopes for the Mass Translation (170925) The Edge of the Inside (171002) Selective Christianity (171016) Theology at the Cutting Edge: Healing the Political and Social Divide in America (171016) Resisting Islamophobia Is The Catholic Thing To Do. (171023) It Started With a Letter to the Archbishop (171030) Why Do We Still Tolerate Mass Stipends? (171106) Their Cross to Bear: Catholic Women Told to Forgive (171113) Papal loyalists become dissidents (171120) Echoes of Theocracy (171127) Will Pope Francis Remove the 'Warning'? (171204) Gumbleton on Nuclear Deterrence (171211) The Scandal of the 2011 Missal (171218)
ARCC News 2018
Prophets of a Future Not Our Own (20180101) 2018: Time to Become Ultra-Human? (20180118) Time for a Bonfire of Their Vanities? (20180122) Until All Are Welcome My House, My Rules: 3 Women "Rejected" (20180208) Policing the Communion Line (20180205) A Time to Judge (20180212) Mary McAleese Being Banned is Embarrassing (20180219) Correct, Don't Complicate Excommunication (20180226) Catholic Tradition, Labour, and Organizing Workers (20180305) Misogyny in the Vatican (20180312) The Unofficial Saint of the Internet (20180318) Francis Invites Change, But We Are the Change (20180325) Rediscovering the Role of Mary Magdalene as Apostle of the Apostles (20180401) Synodality and its Perils (20180409) Get rid of the clergy - But keep Holy Orders (20180415) Renewing the Program of Priestly Formation (20180429) Male and Female, in the image and likeness of God (20180506) Wedding Bans: Why Do Parishes Turn Young Couples Away? (20180513) Christian Humanism, the Path to the Divine (20180520) Mary - Prophet and Priest (20180527) A Wake-Up Call to Liberal Theologians (20160603) Canonization is right for Oscar Romero (20180610) Could the Church take a risk? (20180618) AJC expresses "Profound Concern" over beatification (20180624) The Bible's #MeToo Problem (20180701) 'Humanae Vitae' and the census fidelium (20180715) The Catholic Church wasn't always so against contraception (20180722) 50 years later, scientist's findings on birth control... (20180729) #MeToo, Your Excellency The Catholic Church needs a way to deal with bad bishops (20180812) The Catholic Church is tempted by power and obsessed with sex (20180819) Real change against abuse... (20180826) Pope Francis is facing a crisis of justice (20180829) Catholics Are Facing a Very Real Emergency (20180902) Truth and its violent consequences (20180909) The Third Millennial Catholic Reformation (20180917) Reality in an Historical-Critical Perspective (20180923) Both Prudential & Indisputable (20180930) Catholic Crossroads and Catholic Conflict (20181007) Schism or Evolution? (20181015) Theology: Stones or Bread? (20181028) White Christian America (20181102) Stone Throwing. Or Not. (20181104) Young People, Hope for the Church(es) (20181112) Who Represents the Laity? (20181118) Open Letter to the US Catholic Bishops: It's Over (20181125) From Collegiality to Synodality (20181203) The Birth of the Messiah (20181217) A Non-traditional Blessing for 2019 (20181231)
ARCC News 2019 Changing Power Relationships


Conscience-Based Moral Judgments (170509)

Conscience-Based Moral Judgments


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Robert Schutzius, Ph.D.
In your ministry you will most likely encounter someone asking your help with a moral decision that involves a personal situation in life which has significant consequences and involves a risk based on what may be of questionable moral choice.   

1. Your first task is to make quite clear that you can offer some guidance and advice, but you cannot provide answers or even make recommendations in their decision-making.  The individual must be clear that the decisions to be made are to be the individual's choice based on what his/her conscience dictates.**  Only the individual can discern what God's will is in the decision they make. Explain that you can only help, and not to decide.  Mention that is quite possible that the individual may not find the answer, even with your help.  As a helper you do not have professional credentials, but only training/experience as a helper. (you might explain).

2. Ask and listen:  Ask the client to explain the problem with as much detail as possible.  Wait and listen to learn as much as you can.  Save your questions until the full explanation is finished. Don't interrupt.  Perhaps make it clear that you understand what is being said, by nodding.  You do not need all the details at this point.

3.  Clarifications: Now the work begins. Try to make it clear that you understand the problem and that some thoughts came to mind as it was told.  Explain that your questions are not to be construed as judgments one way or another, but only as a way of clarification and are but thoughts to be considered:  

Below are only some ideas to pursue.  The goal is to encourage the client to verbalize out in the open the real issues.
Acknowledging/affirming the feelings expressed is always a good way to communicate your understanding, and to encouraging expression.  
a) What alternative solutions have been considered? 
b) Why is the preferred, solution if any?
c) What circumstances affect the problem and/or solution?  
d) What are the costs (physical, financial, psychological, personal, family) at stake here? 
e) What other advice has been sought/received? (second opinion)  Helpful?  
f) What decision have you come to already?  What does you conscience say? 
g) What conversations have you had with God about this?  What is your prayer life?
h) There are spiritual risks involved in a significant decision.  
I) How comfortable or doubtful are you about what you are thinking of doing?
j) What support can you count on?
k) What significant changes might arise because of your choice (community, job, family, etc?)
l)  The process of arriving at a decision is ongoing until doubts are dealt with.
m) Own your decision.  It is yours and yours alone, for better or worse.  Follow what your conscience dictates with courage, and be at peace with God.  Share what you think would be helpful to continue the process and affirm the sincerity and well thought-out efforts in the seeking help.  Sharing always helps. 

Offer your prayers for the individual and give assurance that the struggle is worthwhile and the right decision will be made.  Reaffirm that whatever happens, remember that God loves you very much and is aware of your trial and struggle. 

 * Included are decisions made in the Internal Forum, (not having external affirmation or verification).
** No one can make these conscience-based decisions for you.   
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