The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly

Volume 23, Issue 4, Winter 2023

The Thirtieth Anniversary of Veritatis Splendor

Rev. Kevin Flannery, SJ
Pages 603-614

Conscience and the Moral Law
John Paul II, Thomas Aquinas, and Aristotle

The concept of an intrinsically immoral act is unattractive and widely rejected in modern moral theory, with some even going so far as to suggest that no such thing can exist. Such thinkers insist that two distinct realms exist: the moral law and the individual conscience. However, Veritatis splendor expressly rejects this stance and accurately foresees its incoherence and the threat accepting it poses to the credibility of Catholic moral teaching. This article examines the writings of Thomas Aquinas as well as several other important church documents to show that personal conscience cannot be separated from the objective moral law.