Mhari and Niamh went to Rome recently to participate in the General Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life - the kind of thing that leaders do. Indeed, these two budding young medics and many others like them are earnest in their quest for light and truth - things which are not too readily available these days. You have to make a point of searching them out, and those who are doing this are setting themselves up (or allowing God to set them up) as leaders in their field; Christian leaders.
During this event the Holy Father took the opportunity to speak about the Christian conscience: how it is needed in our day, how it is being weakened today, and how it is formed. Although he was addressing the issue of the Right to Life - something which is not only under threat, but which is not recognised in many ways precisely becuase human consciences are not sufficiently alert.
He pinpoints the root of today's crisis of conscience in a "distrust for the capacity of reason to perceive the truth" and in a consequent failure to be reflective. The "modern conscience" therefore is one which is free "from references to tradition and those based on human reason."
Having said this, he paves the way for the restoration of a true and upright conscience - that which so many young Catholics are desiring today - "the desire to know authentic truth". For this to take place we cannot "be content with fleeting contact with the principal truths of faith in infancy, but a programme of accompaniment is necesssary along the various stages of life, opening the mind and heart to welcome the fundamental duties upon which the existence of the individual and the community rest."
We should not ony be aware of this, but we should support and pray for one another, and especially young people, who are actively seeking to form their consciences so that we can be more able Catholics, more able to offer leadership, more able to discern truth in moral issues and become competent in our own fields of work.
So, the Holy Father in addressing the matter of the human conscience is asking us all to be people of vision, whether that be in "science, medicine, law and politics". A real leader is a "witness", one endowed with a true and upright conscience who can defend and promote the splendour of truth and sustain the gift and mystery of life.
Lord, help us all to judge human
conduct rightly, based on the solid foundation of truth, enlighten us to know
the true value of actions and the solid criteria for evaluation. Help us to
distinguish good from evil, even where the social environment, pluralistic
culture and superimposed interests tend cloud our vision. And support with your
grace, all those who right now have engaged their consciences to live in truth.