Invincible ignorance is something that may be understandable in a less-developed society. But in America today, there is very little reason for Catholics to be ignorant of their faith. It is true that people may be confused, taught incorrectly, or subject to bad examples given by others. But the truth is out there, and in modern times, it is easier than ever to find. Unprecedented numbers of people have internet access, giving them the ability to find a plethora of information. With online Bibles, catechisms, papal encyclicals, Church documents and other resources just a click away, can Catholics really claim to be invincibly ignorant of what the Church teaches? Is there really no way that they could have found the truth professed by the Catholic Church? Or is their ignorance vincible, simply resulting from their failure to properly form their consciences?
The Catechism counsels us on the importance of forming our consciences in accordance with the truths professed by the Church. It tells us that formation of conscience is “indispensable” for Catholics to fight temptation and choose the good. Furthermore, this formation of conscience is a “lifelong task,” something that we must constantly be doing as we grow in our faith (CCC 1783-1784).
As we form our consciences, we must heed Christ’s warning about the “false prophets” (Mt. 24:24) who will come in his name, preaching falsities and deceiving the people. Unfortunately, there are those who would claim to speak on behalf of the Church, but their message does not align with Christ’s teachings. We must exercise caution and beware of those who defy the truths proclaimed by the Magisterium. We must look for truth from the heart of the Church, trusting Christ’s promise to guide the Magisterium, and the faithful through them.
As young adult Catholics, we are surrounded by ignorance, but we must stand strong against the world. We must make a solid effort to educate ourselves and form our consciences, arming ourselves against the devil, preparing for the spiritual warfare that is sure to come our way on college campuses. This is true not only for abortion, but for all moral issues. If our goal is to be “ardent, practicing Catholics,” we need to give ourselves the tools to live a faith-filled life.