The concept of the “sensus fidelium” represents the teaching that church leaders and the people possess a “shared spiritual instinct for the truth of the faith,” as our package of reflections by Catholic News Service explains.

‘Sensus fidelium’: The sense of the faithful
Jesus’ promise for the Holy Spirit to “guide you to all truth” applies to the apostles, the pope and the bishops, and to the faithful collectively. This “sense” represents a profound unity that is crucial to the church’s identity.

An instinct: Always faithful
Nourished by prayer and worship, the faithful gain knowledge and understanding of the faith from the community of believers that is the church, writes Catholic catechist Daniel Mulhall.

‘Sensus fidelium’: A sacred ‘common sense’
Although Catholics may be unaware of it, they possess a kind of spiritual instinct that helps to guide the church. John Henry Newman described a “breathing together” of church teaching and people’s lived experience.