Published online by Cambridge University Press: 12 June 2021
Christian Brugger treats a question of Catholic theology: the sensus fidei (the sense of the faith) in relation to conscience. Some theologians have claimed that when a significant number of the faithful conclude about a matter of faith or morals, they are expressing the sensus fidei, which merits recognition. Thus, such a conclusion can unfailingly inform the conscience. The sensus fidei has a long history but was noticeably used in Lumen Gentium from the Second Vatican Council. There it concerned the capacity of the baptized to know the truths of the faith, by the Holy Spirit. It is an intellectual power, however many false ideas about it followed the Council. Properly understood, the sensus fidei is inclusive of the teachings of Jesus and the Church about right and wrong. It is about the Church as a whole and is witnessed by consent of the whole Church – lay, hierarchy and religious. It can be blunted by poor liturgy and formation. It is limited to matters of faith and morals, and attendant to building up the Church. When properly exercised, it is one of the ways the Church can speak infallibly about what is to be believed.