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On Conscience. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Hardcover)

ISBN: 978-0-935372-48-9
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This small volume contains two seminal essays from Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger on the topic of conscience, as delivered at bishops’ workshops hosted by The National Catholic Bioethics Center. In the first essay, the future Pope Benedict XVI examines the false notion that conscience brings us into a world of personal subjectivity that frees our erring mind from moral constraints. Ratzinger contrasts this corrupted view of conscience with that of Socrates and Cardinal Newman, and taking his cue from the themes of anamnesis and synderesis, he concludes that though the pursuit of truth is an arduous one, it brings us out of ourselves and into the Light of Truth. In the second essay, Ratzinger reviews the four possible sources of morality: reductive objectivity, subjectivity, the Will of God, and the community at large. The first brings us into the technical calculations of utilitarianism, the second gives ascendancy to the private desires of the individual, the third raises the problem of how to know and interpret revelation, and the last is undermined by the corruption of society. Ratzinger finds the solution to the origin of morality by joining these possible answers under a single theme: conscience, in its reflection on nature, and formed by the wisdom of the Church, is the avenue that leads us to knowledge of objective moral norms. This book includes a foreword by John M. Haas, President of The National Catholic Bioethics Center.