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"It is through conscience that human beings see and recognize the demands of the divine law. They are bound to follow their conscience faithfully in everything they do."
VATICAN II
Religious Liberty, no 2.


Reverentia Sacrorum Canonum

Summa by an anonymous author (ca 1184)

 

Fr Columba Ryan OPThus according to a less precise understanding, the natural law is said to be that which the highest nature [= God] has placed universally in the animal, insofar as it naturally directs [the animal] to act or to refrain from acting. I say naturally, not in accordance with the illicit things of the natural senses, but in accordance with what is better and more excellent in animal nature. For example, reason is the better part in the human person, and the image of reason, that is, imagination [= instinct], is the better part in the brute animal.

Reason directs the human person alone, and the imagination [instinct]directs the brute animal, to resist force by force; this is vengeance, which is a kind of natural law, according to what Tully [Cicero] says in his Rhetoric. Also, just as reason directs the human person, so imagination [instinct] directs the brute animal to bring forth offspring and to educate and care for what is brought forth.

Considering this, one who is learned in civil law says: “We see that other living creatures are thought to be learned in this law” [Ulpian]. It is said therefore to be law, because that which naturally directs [the animal] was put in office by the highest nature, that is, God. Hence also natural justice is said to be, as it were, the office of that which naturally directs [us]. More strictly, the natural law is said to be that law which is understood to extend only to the human person and not to all animals, and to be brought forth with the human person from the beginning.

Published by Rudolf Weigand, Die Naturrechtslehr der Legisten und Dekretisten von Imerius bis Acursius und vom Gratian bis Johannes Teutonicus, Max Hueber Verlag, Munich 1967, no 324-327.