What Is an Informed and Formed Conscience?

In Catholicism, a formed conscience is one that is built upon through learning and experience, whereas an informed conscience is one that is researched and thought out through logic and reason. A person with a well-formed and well-informed conscience is less likely to reject God’s law.

According to Catholic doctrine, a good conscience can be revealed through natural law (informed) or through the teachings of Jesus Christ. A conscience should be educated in God’s word and obtained through the practices of Jesus.

Pope John Paul II described a correct conscience as one that involves a judgment that is in accordance with objective truth. An erroneous conscience, however, involves a judgement that is purely subjective and thought to be true when it is not.

Catholic teaching encourages people to live as disciples of Christ, without ignoring concerns for human dignity, such as poverty and racism. A well-formed conscience can help guide a person to make the right moral and ethical choices in life. Catholic teaching says that individuals have a duty to examine their conscience and consult with others to keep their conscience in check. Making good choices keeps a Christian’s individual virtue and integrity intact.

The development of a well-formed conscience is ultimately the obligation of all Christians.