Ratzinger – ecclesiastical authority & conscience

“Over the pope as the expression of the binding claim of ecclesiastical authority there still stands one’s own conscience, which must be obeyed before all else, if necessary even against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority. Conscience confronts [the individual] with a supreme and ultimate tribunal, and one which in the last resort is beyond the claim of external social groups, even of the official church.” (Pope Benedict XVI [then Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger],  “Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II”, ed. Vorgrimler, 1968, on Gaudium et spes, part 1, chapter 1.)

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