Marriage and family life are blessings for individuals and for society, but both are filled with difficult choices that Catholic couples must be helped to face prayerfully and in the light of their consciences, Pope Francis said, CNS reports.
Unfortunately, too many people today confuse a rightly formed conscience with personal preferences dominated by selfishness, the Pope said in a video message to a meeting on Amoris Laetitia, his exhortation on the family.
“The contemporary world risks confusing the primacy of conscience, which is always to be respected, with the exclusive autonomy of the individual” even when the individual’s decisions impact his or her marriage and family life, Francis said.
Repeating a remark he had made to the Pontifical Academy for Life, the Pope said, “There are those who even speak of ‘egolatry,’ that is, the true worship of the ego on whose altar everything, including the dearest affections, are sacrificed.”
Confusing conscience with selfishness “is not harmless,” the Pope said. “This is a ‘pollution’ that corrodes souls and confounds minds and hearts, producing false illusions.”
The conference sponsored by the Italian Bishops’ Conference was focused on “conscience and norm” in Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation.
Diagnosing problems in the Church’s outreach to married couples and families, Pope Francis had written, “We have long thought that simply by stressing doctrinal, bioethical and moral issues, without encouraging openness to grace, we were providing sufficient support to families, strengthening the marriage bond and giving meaning to marital life.”
“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,” he wrote in Amoris Laetitia. “We have been called to form consciences, not to replace them.”
In his message to the meeting, held in Rome on Saturday, Pope Francis said the Church must strengthen its programs “to respond to the desire for family that emerges in the soul of the young generations” and to help couples once they are married.