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The Development of Moral Theology

Five Strands

Charles E. Curran

Publication Year: 2013

Charles Curran in his newest book The Development of Moral Theology: Five Strands, brings a unique historical and critical analysis to the five strands that differentiate Catholic moral theology from other approaches to Christian ethics -- sin and the manuals of moral theology, the teaching of Thomas Aquinas and later Thomists, natural law, the role of authoritative church teaching in moral areas, and Vatican II. Significant changes have occurred over the course of these historical developments. In addition, pluralism and diversity exist even today, as illustrated, for example, in the theory of natural law proposed by Cardinal Ratzinger.

In light of these realities, Curran proposes his understanding of how the strands should influence moral theology today. A concluding chapter highlights the need for a truly theological approach and calls for a significant change in the way that the papal teaching office functions today and its understanding of natural law.

In a work useful to anyone who studies Catholic moral theology, The Development of Moral Theology underscores, in the light of the historical development of these strands, the importance of a truly theological and critical approach to moral theology that has significant ramifications for the life of the Catholic church.

Published by: Georgetown University Press


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p. C-C

Title Page, Series Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

THIS BOOK TRACES the historical development of five strands in the shaping of moral theology: (1) sin, reconciliation, and the manuals of moral theology; (2) Thomas Aquinas and the Thomistic tradition; (3) natural law; (4) the papal teaching office; and (5) the Second Vatican Council. These five strands are what differentiate Catholic moral theology...

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1 STRAND ONE: Sin, Reconciliation, and the Manuals of Moral Theology

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pp. 1-30

SIN, CONVERSION, AND FORGIVENESS constitute significant aspects in the moral life of the Christian. Moral theology as a thematic, critical, and systematic reflection on the Christian moral life must pay serious attention to these realities. These realities have also exerted a significant influence on how moral theology has conceived its own purpose...

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2 STRAND TWO: Thomas Aquinas and the Thomistic Tradition

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pp. 31-72

WITHOUT DOUBT, Thomas Aquinas is the most significant figure in the history of Catholic theology in general and Catholic moral theology in particular. Aquinas (1225–74) was a Dominican friar who was recognized not only as the foremost Catholic theologian but also as the most influential Catholic philosopher. The genius of Aquinas was to bring...

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3 STRAND THREE: Natural Law

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pp. 73-147

FROM EARLY IN THE HISTORY of the Western world until the present day, intellectuals and others have referred to the natural law. Greek poets and historians spoke of a natural law that is divine, universal, and known to all. Natural law has been discussed in a number of different contexts. Philosophers have proposed natural law as a law for how human...

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4 STRAND FOUR: Papal Teaching Office

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pp. 148-223

CATHOLIC MORAL THEOLOGY differs from its Protestant sibling by its recognition of the role of what is called the hierarchical magisterium or the teaching office of popes and bishops in the area of morality. This unique characteristic of moral theology is explored and developed in this chapter....

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5 STRAND FIVE: Second Vatican Council

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pp. 224-252

THE SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL (1962–65) had a profound effect on the Catholic Church. However, in the fifty years since the Council there have surfaced discordant interpretations of what the Council actually did and how it fits into the life and the history of the Church. The controversy centers on whether one emphasizes the aspect of continuity...

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CONCLUSION: Where Do We Stand Today?

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pp. 253-288

AFTER AN IN-DEPTH STUDY of the five strands in the historical development of moral theology, the question naturally arises: where do we stand today and in the immediate future?
This conclusion will first consider the historical development that has occurred in the first four strands. History shows that each of these four...


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pp. 289-306

E-ISBN-13: 9781626160200
E-ISBN-10: 1626160201

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2013