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What is prudential judgment?

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Prudential judgment is the application of moral principles to a particular case in order to do good and avoid evil. It is a recognition that we live in an imperfect world, in which achieving pure goodness is not always possible, but the Christian must constantly strive to move toward a more perfect world (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1806).

Prudential judgment is not a way to rationalize a political calculation, avoid rocking the boat or justifying one’s own interest. Nor is it a pretext to ignore Church teaching.  If a Catholic finds herself in conflict with the Church’s teaching on an issue, she must give serious consideration to the teaching and work to understand the conflict. It is important that we put aside any personal motives, including partisan preference or individual gain that might cloud our judgment.

“The Church fosters well-formed consciences not only by teaching moral truth but also by encouraging its members to develop the virtue of prudence, which St. Ambrose described as ‘the charioteer of the virtues.’" (Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, No. 19)

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