This appraisal of two of the most fundamental terms in the moral language of Thomas Aquinas draws on the contemporary moral distinction between the goodness of a person and the rightness of a person's living. Keenan thus finds that Aquinas's earlier writings do not permit the possibility of such a distinction. But in his mature works, specifically the Summa Theologiae, Thomas describes the human act of moral intentionality, and even the virtues in a way analogous to our use of the term moral rightness. To Thomas, only the virtue of charity expresses moral goodness. And, although Thomas describes vices and sin as wrong conduct, he never really develops a description for moral badness.Keenan compels us to carefully examine Thomas's central moral concepts and to measure them against contemporary standards for meaning and correctness. As a result, any student of Thomas will find here a forceful argument that his notion of the good is considerably different from ours. Similarly, ethicists and moral theologians will find in the Thomas presented here a consistent-virtue ethicist concerned with descriptions for right living. Any student of theology will also find here a Thomas whose critical and concrete thinking enabled him to develop and even abandon earlier positions as his comprehension of the Good evolved.
This analysis prompts a re-examination of our own concepts. Measuring Thomas's standards against our own, Keenan obliges us to ask whether we sufficiently understand rightness and moral intentionality. He also asks whether we correctly describe what it means to will or to desire something. He further questions whether we have surrendered our understanding of the virtues to the voluntarism and subjectivism which Thomas relentlessly critiqued. This historically sophisticated reading of the Summa Thologiae both allows Thomas to speak again as he once did, and affords us the chance to evaluate the way we describe ourselves and one another as being good and living rightly.
John Cuthbert Ford, SJ (1902-1989) was one of the leading American Catholic moralists of the 20th century. This is the first full-length analysis of his work and influence, one that not only reveals a traditionally Catholic method of moral analysis but also illuminates the conflicts behind and development of Catholic moral teaching during the volatile 1960s.
Ford is best known for his influential contribution to Catholic teachings on three moral issues. His objection to the Allied practice of obliteration bombing during WWII by drawing a sharp distinction between combatants and noncombatants is still studied widely today. Ford campaigned for alcohol education for both clergy and laity and introduced a pastoral approach for assisting and counseling alcoholics. As a member of the Papal Commission on Population, Family, and Birth Rate during the 1960s, Ford was an unyielding defender of the traditional Catholic teaching on birth control that still reigns today.
Drawing on the published works and personal papers of Ford, Eric Genilo begins with a brief description of the theologian's life, career, and influence. The book is divided into two parts. In Part I, Method, Genilo offers an overview of Ford's moral theology in the "manualist" tradition—a 300-year period during which Catholic priests used manuals to instruct the faithful on matters of morality and sin. Genilo then examines Ford's two modes of resolving moral cases and presents Ford's approach to doctrinal development. In Part II, Moral Objectivity, Genilo shows how Ford confronted the growing situation ethics movement, then moves to how he understood freedom and subjective culpability, particularly in the case of alcoholism. Later chapters reveal Ford's theological conflicts with Josef Fuchs, SJ on the issue of birth control, his staunch opposition to totalitarianism, and his moral analysis of how society should treat marginalized persons threatened by the abuse of power.
Genilo concludes with an assessment of Ford's legacy to the development and practice of moral theology, leaving the reader with an in-depth portrait of an extraordinary man who dedicated his life to defending the Church and protecting the most vulnerable persons in society.
Living the Truth: A Theory of Action
Klaus Demmer, MSC. Translated by Brian McNeil. Foreword by James F. Keenan, SJ Georgetown University Press, 2010 Library of Congress BJ1249.D4413 2010
How is moral theology related to pastoral theology? In this first English translation of Living the Truth, Klaus Demmer answers this question by offering a complete theory of action. Its crucial element is truthfulness, which Demmer claims is a basic attitude that must be translated concretely into our individual decisions. Demmer demonstrates that the demand for truthfulness offers a critical corrective to the usual praxis whereby ethical norms are formulated. This has significant consequences for every area of ethical directives, including questions about celibacy and partnerships.
Demmer moves away from the act-centered morality that dominates the neo-Scholastic manuals of moral theology. His concern is to show how our actions embody and carry out a more original anthropological project. Not only does this anthropological project condition our insights into goods and values, it provides the criteria by which our actions are judged morally. This book will be welcomed by all who are looking for ethical norms, and by all whose task it is to formulate such norms.