Forming Consciences for a Faithful Citizenship

Adapted from USCCB, Forming Consciences Bulletin Insert, available at www.usccb.org



As we prepare to vote in the 2020 election, the Conference of Catholic Bishops invites us first to prepare our conscience. We are reminded:


“The Church equips its members to address political and social questions by helping them to develop a well-formed conscience.…Conscience is not something that allows us to justify doing whatever we want, nor is it a mere "feeling" about what we should or should not do. Rather, conscience is the voice of God resounding in the human heart, revealing the truth to us and calling us to do what is good while shunning what is evil.”

Conscience is a judgment of practical reason that helps us to recognize and seek what is good, and to reject what is evil. The Second Vatican Council wrote:


“Always summoning [one] to love good and avoid evil, the voice of conscience can when necessary speak to [one’s] heart more specifically: do this, shun that.”

Conscience does not simply “come to us!” Throughout our lives, we should spend time forming our consciences so that we can make well-reasoned judgments about any situation. Practices that can help us hone our conscience include:


  1. Before examining any issue or situation, be open to the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

  2. Study Sacred Scripture and the teaching of the Church.

  3. Examine the facts and background information about various issues and choices.

  4. Prayerfully reflect to discern the will of God.

Regularly practicing these steps can help us develop an informed conscience as part of our daily life as well as during election season. But, since we are in an election season, we should take advantage of our well-formed conscience. Go vote!


Information about polling locations and hours is available at:

DC — www.dcboee.org

MD — www.elections.state.md.us

VA — www.elections.virginia.gov

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