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 Ethics is the practical science of the morality of human conduct.

 Ethics is a branch of philosophy dealing with the questions of what ought to be done or what ought
not to be done, under what kinds of reasons.
 Ethics in terms of philosophy is often associated with morality. Morality is what people believe to be
right and good, wrong and evil, while ethics is a critical reflection about morality.


1. Metaethics

Metaethics is the study of origin of ethical concepts. “Meta” means after or beyond, and conversely
the idea implies that if one were to view Metaethics they would encompass a whole concept of
ethics. Metaethical issues give rise to such questions as; ‘where do rights come from?’ and ‘what kind
of beings have rights?’

2. Normative Ethics

These refer to the principles established that guide or regulate human conduct. They are often what
society considers the norm. It is the litmus test of proper behavior that society sets as their standard.
The golden rule is a classic example of normative ethics. "Act onto others as you would have them
do to you."

3. Applied Ethics

This is the study of specific problems or issues with application of Normative ethics and/or
Metaethics. Sometimes the applied ethics may be about political or social questions, but they always
involve some moral aspect.

In other words, Metaethics asks the question “What is good?”, Normative Ethics asks “What should
we do in order to be good?” and Applied Ethics asks “How do we apply ethics to our day to day lives to
remain good?”.


"Ethics" originated from the Greek word, "ethica," whose root is "ethos." "Ethos" eventually came
to mean a person’s "interior dwelling place," the "basic orientation or disposition of a person toward life."
Ancient Greek philosophers, especially beginning with Socrates, became interested in this question on how
we should fashion our "ethos" in order to best succeed at life. This dimension of ethics is sometimes called



The Ancient Romans translated the Greek word ethos as mos/moris, from which we get our English
word "morality." The Latin word means "manners, customs or practices of a land or people." The Romans
were much more practically minded than the Greeks, and their ethics tended to focus on principles or
guidelines for living. The writings of Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius are two good examples of this. The
dimension of ethics that focuses on rules for action is called "deontic."

Our ethics is not exclusively aretaic or deontic. We praise/blame persons and actions. Some
philosophers who have theoretically tried to combine these two approaches are the ancient Roman Cicero,
the medieval philosopher Thomas Aquinas.


Ethics and Psychology

Ethics and psychology both deal with human behavior, with the abilities and acts of the human
person. But the latter studies how man actually does behave, while the former how he ought to behave.

Ethics and Metaphysics

Ethics must be rooted in Metaphysics. The former employs certain presuppositions which come from
the latter, such as the existence of God, creation, the spirituality of the human person, the immortality of the
human soul, and the existence of human freedom. These truths utilized by ethics are propositions not
proved by the science in question but are presupposed by it.

Ethics and Civil Law

Ethics and civil law are closely related to each other. Although both deal with law, and therefore in
some way with the morality or “oughtness” of human acts, both disciplines do not always perfectly
correspond. The study of civil law deals only with external acts and positive legality, whereas ethics reaches
out into man’s internal acts of will and the tribunal of conscience as well. There is indeed a difference
between crime and sin, legal immunity and moral worth, outward respectability and true virtue of soul.

Ethics and Moral Theology

Though ethics and moral theology both deal with the morality of human acts, the rightness and
wrongness of human conduct, they differ in the source from which they derive their knowledge and in the
method of pursuing their conclusions. Moral theology proceeds from the standpoint of Divine Revelation
and ecclesiastical law, whereas ethics or moral philosophy proceeds from the point of view of human reason
alone. A part of philosophy, the practical, normative science of ethics is not allowed to appeal to Revelation
for its facts or arguments nor should it discuss the various canons of ecclesiastical law. Ethics (or moral
philosophy) is a part of philosophy, not sacred theology.



Ethics and other Sciences dealing with man:

 Biological Sciences treat man as a living organism. Ethics considers man as a moral being, subject to
moral duties and possessor of moral rights.
 Anthropology investigates the origin of the human body and the behavior of the primitive man.
Ethics deals with the principles of right conduct as applied to men of all times.
 Sociology describes the general structure and attitude of social groups: the family, government, the
working class, etc. Ethics studies the social groups with reference to the moral social order.
 Psychology discusses man’s intellect and will. Ethics direct the intellect to know, and the will to
practice moral truths.
 Logic is the science of correct thinking. Ethics is the science of correct doing.
 Jurisprudence is the knowledge of the origin and interpretation of laws. Ethics is the knowledge of
the natural or moral law, common to all men.


 It takes the worth of Value Education by guiding individuals in choosing wisely his values and in
acting upon them. It is also the rational foundation of any attempt at Values Education. It explains
human values in relation to the ultimate purpose of human existence.


 In this context, Ethics is an art. Art, literally means appreciation of beauty. It implies order and
harmony of parts in a given whole. Human life does not imply merely physical survival. The demands
of daily life include and derive meaning from the cultivation of these traits that truly relates man’s
innate dignity.


 It is the breath of life – It pulsates with the desire for growth and development.
 It is a master plan - It indicates where man must go and what he/she ought to do in order to
live well.



 This approach assumes that only matter exists and that man is only responsible to himself since
there is no god who creates and rules the universe. It favors science than religion. It tries to
centralize scientific ideology. Its followers are called atheists.


 Matter is the only reality.
 Man is matter and does not have spiritual dimension.
 Man is free and must exercise his freedom to promote society's welfare.
 There is no life after death.
 Man is accountable to the state.




 It begins with the assumption that God is the Supreme Law-giver. It employs the aid of a favoring
religion. God’s will is the core of this approach. It believes that God is the point of origin. With God’s
will, man must exercise his freedom.


1. God is the Supreme Creator and Lawgiver.
2. Man is free and must use his freedom to promote his personal and social interests along with his
3. Man has an immortal soul which cannot die.
4. Man is accountable for his actions, both good and evil.




Every science has a Material Object and Formal Object. The Material Object is the subject - matter of
the science: the thing or things, with which the science deals. The Formal Object of a science is the special
way, aim, or point of view that the science employs in studying or dealing with its material object.

We generally define Ethics as the practical science of the morality of human conduct. Having this in
mind, we then understand that the Material Object of Ethics is human acts. The Formal Object of Ethics,
since it studies human acts to discover what these must be in order to agree with the dictates of reason, is
the right morality, or rectitude, of human acts.


A human act is an act which proceeds from the deliberate free will of man. This free act is called
human because it is an act that is proper to man as man.

The human act (actus humanus) is an act of which man is master, one that is consciously controlled
and deliberately willed, so that the man who performs it is responsible for it. Human acts are to be
distinguished from acts of man (actus hominis).

Acts of man include man’s animal acts of sensation and appetition and acts that are not deliberate
and free. An act of man is an act which man performs but he is not the master of it for he has not consciously
controlled it, has not deliberately willed it, and is subsequently not responsible for it.

Ethics is not concerned with acts of man but only with human acts. Only human acts are moral acts
for man is responsible only for them and such acts are imputed to him as worthy of praise or blame, of
reward or punishment.


A. Complete or Adequate Cause of Human Acts

Elicited Acts

Some human acts begin and are perfected in the will itself, and the rest begin and are
perfected by other faculties under control of the will; and these are called elicited acts.

1. Wish

The simple love of anything; the first tendency of the will towards a thing, whether this thing
be realizable or not.



2. Intention

The purposive tendency of the will towards a thing regarded as realizable, whether this thing
is actually done or not. Intention is distinguished as actual, virtual, habitual, and interpretative

3. Consent

The acceptance by the will of means necessary to carry out intention. It is a further intention
of doing what is necessary to realize the first or main intention.

4. Election

The selection by the will of the precise means to be employed in carrying out an intention.

5. Use

The employment by the will of powers (of body, mind, or both) to carry out its intention by
the means elected.

6. Fruition

The enjoyment of a thing willed and done; the will’s act of satisfaction in intention fulfilled.

Commanded Acts

Other human acts do not find their adequate cause in the simple will-act, but are perfected
by the action of mental or bodily powers under the control or orders of and from the will; and these
acts are called commanded acts.

1. Internal

Acts done by internal mental powers under command of the will.


Efforts to remember
Conscious reasoning
Effort to control anger
Deliberate use of the imagination in visualizing a scene

2. External

Acts affected by bodily powers under command of the will.




Deliberate walking, eating, writing, speaking

3. Mixed

Acts that involve the employment of bodily powers and mental powers.


Study, which involves use of intellect, and use of eyes in reading the lesson.

B. Relation to the Dictates of Reason

Human acts are either in agreement or in disagreement with the dictates of reason, and
this relation with reason constitutes their morality.

1. Good

When they are in harmony with the dictates of right reason

2. Evil

When they are in opposition to these dictates

3. Indifferent

When they stand in no positive relation to the dictates of reason

A human act that is indifferent in itself becomes good or evil according to the circumstances which
affect its performance, especially the end in view of the agent.


In order for an act to be a human act it must possess three essential elements or constituents:

1. Knowledge

No human act is possible without knowledge. The will itself is a blind faculty that cannot act unless
enlightened by the intellect. It is the job of the intellect to propose the good to the will and the latter tends
towards it. The end cannot be attained without suitable means and the intellect must present these suitable
means to the will. The will is blind in itself, groping in the dark, until illuminated by the intellect which
proposes the end to be attained, passes judgment regarding the suitability of the means to the end, and
devises a course of conduct that will efficiently lead to the end.



A human act proceeds from the deliberate will, deliberation here not meaning a slow and painstaking
effort, but rather, advertence, or knowledge in the mind of what one is about and what this means Thus an
action can happen in a split second and still be a deliberate human act.

So, in ethics, deliberation means knowledge. A human act is by definition a deliberate act, that is, a
knowing act.

2. Freedom

A human act is an act determined (elicited or commanded) by the human will and by nothing else. It
is thus an act controlled by the will, an act that the will can perform or refuse to perform. Such an act is
termed a free act. Therefore, every human act must be free; freedom is an essential element of it.

3. Voluntariness

Human acts are voluntary acts, that is, they are will-acts. In order for a human act to occur an act
must not only be guided by knowledge or deliberation but must also be willed. So, an act which comes from
both knowledge and will is called voluntary. This will act is not forced upon a person from without nor does
it arise in a spontaneous manner from within.

In a voluntary act the agent (the human subject author of his act) must know not merely the
circumstances of the act, but also the end to which it leads. It is of the nature of a voluntary act that its
principle be within the agent, together with some knowledge of the end. The inner principle referred here is
the will itself.

So we say now, a voluntary act is one which proceeds from the will with a knowledge of the end. It is
a willed act wherein the agent knows what he is about to do and wills to do it.


Harry, casually walking down the street, sees a seriously injured woman lying on the ground as a
result of a hit and run accident; he is aware that it is his duty to come to the aid of this woman and to
call for an ambulance (knowledge). He is free to help her or to run away, not indeed free from duty in
the matter, but rather physically free to perform his duty or to leave it unperformed (freedom). In
this case, Harry wills to do his duty, helping the woman and calling an ambulance (voluntariness).





Since man is endowed with free will he is a moral subject. When acting deliberately he is responsible for
his actions. Human acts, that is, acts freely chosen in consequence of a judgment of conscience, are either
good or evil. Now, the morality of human acts depends on three elements or factors that make up the
sources or constitutive elements of the morality of human acts: the object chosen, the end in view or the
intention and the circumstance of the action.

1. Object

The object chosen is a good toward which the will deliberately directs itself. It is the matter of a
human act. The object chosen morally specifies the act of the will, insofar as reason recognizes and
judges it to be or not to be in conformity with the true good. Objective norms of morality express the
rational order of good and evil, attested to by conscience.

2. End or the Intention

In contrast to the object, the intention resides in the acting subject. Because it lies at the voluntary
source of an action and determines it by its end, intention is an element essential to the moral
evaluation of an action. The end is the first goal of the intention and indicates the purpose pursued in
the action. The intention is a movement of the will toward the end: it is concerned with the goal of the
activity. It aims at the good anticipated from the action undertaken. Intention is not limited to directing
individual actions, but can guide several actions toward one and the same purpose; it can orient one’s
whole life toward its ultimate end.

“A good intention (for example that of helping one’s neighbour) does not make behaviour that is
intrinsically disordered, such as lying and calumny, good or just. The end does not justify the means.
Thus the condemnation of an innocent person cannot be justified as the legitimate means of saving the
nation. On the other hand, an added bad intention (such as vainglory) makes an act evil that, in and of
itself, can be good (such as almsgiving).”

3. Circumstances

The circumstances, including the consequences, are secondary elements of a moral act. They
contribute to increasing or diminishing the moral goodness or evil of human acts (for example, the
amount of a theft). They can also diminish or increase the agent’s responsibility (such as acting out of a
fear of death). Circumstances of themselves cannot change the moral quality of acts themselves; they
can make neither good nor right an action that is in itself evil.




For a human act to be morally good all the constitutive elements – the object, the end or intention, and
the circumstances – must be good together. “An evil end corrupts the action, even if the object is good in
itself (such as praying and fasting „in order to be seen by men‟). The object of the choice can by itself vitiate
an act in its entirety.

It is therefore an error to judge the morality of human acts by considering only the intention that
inspires them or the circumstances (environment, social pressure, duress or emergency, etc.) which supply
their context. There are acts which, in and of themselves, independently of circumstances and intentions,
are always gravely illicit by reason of their object; such as blasphemy and perjury, murder and adultery. One
may not do evil so that good may result from it.” Such acts are called intrinsically evil and can never be done
nor justified for any reason whatsoever. It is never licit to do evil that good may come of it (Romans 3:8).


By the modifiers for human acts we mean the things that affect human acts in the essential qualities of
knowledge, freedom, voluntariness, and so make them less perfectly human. Such modifiers lessen the
moral character of the human act, and consequently diminish the responsibility of the agent.


Ignorance is the absence of knowledge. It may be defined, in Ethics, as the absence of

intellectual knowledge in man. Ignorance is thus a negation of knowledge; it is a negative thing. But
when it is an absence of knowledge that ought to be present, the ignorance is not merely negative but

Ignorance has a positive aspect when it consists not merely in the absence of knowledge, but in
the presence of what is falsely supposed to be knowledge. Such positive ignorance is called mistake or

• Considerations in Ignorance

• In its Object or in the thing of which a person may be ignorant

• Ignorance of Law
Ignorance of the existence of a duty, rule, or regulation.

• Ignorance of Fact
Ignorance of the nature or circumstance of an act as forbidden.

• Ignorance of Penalty
Lack of knowledge of the precise sanction affixed to the law.



• In its Subject or in the person in whom ignorance exists

• Vincible Ignorance

Conquerable ignorance or ignorance that can and should be supplanted by

knowledge. Ignorance that can be dispelled by the use of ordinary diligence.

Such ignorance is, therefore, due to lack of proper diligence on the part of
the ignorant person, and is his fault. Vincible ignorance is, in consequence,
culpable ignorance.

Degrees of Vincible Ignorance

Crass or Supine •If it be a result of total or nearly total lack of effort to dispel it

•If some effort worthy the name, but not persevering and
Simply Vincible
whole hearted effort, be unsuccessfully employed to dispel it

Affected •If positive effort is made to retain it


 A freshman who has been in college a month and does not know the college rules
of order is in the state of vincible ignorance in the matter. If he has made no
effort, or scarcely any, to know the rules, his ignorance is crass or supine. If he has
positively avoided learning the rules so that he may have a ready excuse for faults,
his ignorance is affected. If he has made some inquiries about the rules, or has
tried once or twice, without success, to procure a copy of the rule book, his
ignorance is simply vincible.

 Invincible Ignorance

Ignorance that ordinary and proper diligence cannot dispel.

This sort of ignorance is attributable to one or two causes: either the

person in whom the ignorance exists has no realization whatever of his
lack of knowledge, or the person who realizes his ignorance finds
ineffective his effort to dispel it. Hence, invincible ignorance is never the
fault of the person in whom it exists, and it is rightly called inculpable



• In its Result or with reference to the acts that are performed in ignorance




The term is often used to signify the frailty, or proneness to evil, which is consequent in human nature upon
original sin. However, in Ethics, it refers to those bodily appetites or tendencies which are called the passions

Love Hatred Joy Grief Desire or Horror
Hope Despair Courage Anger Fear

• The passions are called antecedent when they spring into action unstimulated by any act of the
will. They are called consequent when the will directly or indirectly stirs them up or fosters them.

• Antecedent Concupiscence is an act of man, and not a human act. It is therefore a non-voluntary
act, and the agent is not responsible for it. Consequent Concupiscence, however, is the fault of
the agent, for it is willed, either directly or indirectly, that is, either in itself or in cause. The agent
is, in consequence, responsible for it.


Fear is the shrinking back of the mind from danger. More accurately, it is the agitation of the
mind brought about by apprehension of impending evil.

Actions may proceed from fear as their cause, or may be done with fear as an accompanying


Violence or coaction is external force applied by a free cause for the purpose of compelling a
person to perform an act which is against his will.

Violence cannot reach the will directly. It may force bodily action, but the will is not
controlled by the body. Still, the will has the command of bodily action, and since this command is
limited or destroyed for the moment by violence, the will is said to be indirectly affected by violence.


A habit is a facility and readiness for acting in a definite way, acquired by the frequent
repetition of a certain kind of act. It is a comparatively permanent quality disposing a thing well or ill
in its being or operations. Virtues and vices are particular types of habits.



1. Virtues

A virtue is a permanent inclination and facility to perform morally good acts. It is a good
operative habit. Cardinal virtues, which are the principle virtues among several groups of
virtues, are four in number, namely:

a. Prudence is an intellectual virtue which enables man to judge correctly in each individual
case presented to him just what the moral order requires of him. It is a habit of the
practical intellect.
b. Justice is a moral virtue which inclines man’s will to render unto each one his due.
c. Temperance is the moral virtue which regulates the desire for sensible pleasure within the
limits of right reason.
d. Fortitude inclines the will to overcome grave danger and to sustain severe hardship in the
pursuit and maintenance of the moral good.

2. Vices

A vice is a permanent inclination and facility to perform morally bad acts. It is a bad
operative habit which inclines the will to acts at variance with right reason. Pride, which is the
inordinate desire for one’s own excellence, is the queen of all vices. There are also seven
capital vices.

a. Vainglory is an inordinate desire to manifest one’s own excellence and to receive praise
from me
b. Avarice or Covetousness is the inordinate love of having possessions or riches
c. Lust is the inordinate desire for sexual pleasure
d. Anger refers to the inordinate desire for revenge
e. Gluttony pertains to the inordinate desire for food and drink
f. Envy is the sadness on account of the goods possessed by another which are regarded as
harmful to oneself since they diminish one’s own excellence or renown
g. Sloth which is sorrow in the face of spiritual good inasmuch as it is God’s good, or sorrow
regarding the means of salvation conferred on us and prescribed by God




Human acts are directed to their true end by Law, and law is applied by conscience. Hence, Law and
Conscience are the directives or norms of human acts.



A. Definition:

Law is an ordinance of reason for the common good and promulgated by the person who has
care for the community

B. Elements:

1. Ordinance of reason (formal cause): this means the law must be based on the insight of reason
into the value. It must be reasonable.
2. For the common good (final cause): It must have as its goal the value lying in the good of the
community upon which it is imposed.
3. By the person who has the care of the community (efficient cause): only those ordinances have
the force of law which are imposed by competent or legitimate authority (single human being or
a group formed to act as a governing power.
4. Promulgated: that is, the law must be known or promulgated


True law tends to make men good, and tends to liberate them from the perverse and
mistaken judgments that would lead them astray in the quest for their ultimate end. The man who
accepts the direction of true law is the man who is free to attain his goal. He who refuses, as he
thinks, in the name of freedom, is enslaved by his own liability of error.

The purpose of law, therefore, is to protect and promote true freedom among members of a
society in common, by insuring the unhampered and unthwarted exercises of free acts which will
carry man to his proper end.


A. Moral Goodness - the proper effect of law is to lead it subjects to their proper virtue; and since virtue
is that which makes its subject good, it follows that the proper effect of law is to make those to
whom it is given good.



B. Moral Obligation - the precepts of law are concerned with human acts in which the law directs.
These acts are either good generally, as for example, acts of virtue, and in respect of the acts of the
law is a precept of command, for the law commands all acts of virtue. Some are evil generically, as
for example, acts of vice and in respect of these, the law forbids. All acts that are either distinctively
good or not distinctively bad may be called indifferent. And it is in the fear of punishment that law
makes use of in order to ensure obedience in which respect punishment is an effect of law.


According to their Immediate Author, laws are distinguished as Divine Laws which come
directly from God, and Human Laws, which are the enactments of Church and State. Human Laws
enacted by the Church are called Ecclesiastical Laws, while human laws enacted by the State are
called Civil Laws.

According to their Duration, laws are Eternal or Temporal. The Eternal Law is God’s plan and
providence for the universe. All human laws are in themselves temporal, although some of them give
expression to requirements of the Eternal Law.

According to the Manner of their Promulgation, laws are distinguished as the Natural and
Positive laws. The Natural Law, in widest sense, is that which directs creatures to their end in
accordance with their nature, and, so understood, it coincides with the Eternal Law. Usually,
however, the laws that govern irrational creatures in their being and activities are called physical
laws, while the moral law which is apprehended by sound and matured human reason is called
natural law. Hence, in Ethics, we understand natural law as the Eternal Law apprehended by human
reason while Positive laws are laws enacted by positive act of a legislator. This falls in the
classification already made as divine and human.

According as they prescribe an act or forbid it, laws are Affirmative or Negative. Negative
laws are also called prohibitory laws. Affirmative laws bind always, but not at every moment. On the
other hand, Negative laws of the natural order bind always and at every moment.

According to the effect of their violation, laws are distinguished as moral (violation of which
is fault or sin), penal (violation of which renders the violator liable to an established penalty, but does
not infect him with sin), and mixed (violation of which involves both fault and penalty).



- It is the judgment or dictate of the practical intellect deciding from general principles the
goodness or evil of some act which is to be done here and now or has been done in the past

- Judgment or dictate of the practical intellect - It is not a power or a habit but an act, viz-a-viz the
application of knowledge to an individual fact, and this application is a judgment or dictate of the
practical intellect, not of the speculative intellect or of the will.



- From general principles - It derives its judgment from these since it presupposes as true the
general principles of faith and of natural reason, and applies them to individual cases.
Conscience, then, doesn’t pass judgment on the truths of faith and of reason but decides
whether the act be done (or has been done) in conformity with existing just laws.

- Decides the goodness or evil of some act which is to be done here and now (or has been done). -
Conscience is the subjective standard of morality.

- “Conscience is our natural guide, assigned to us by the Author of Nature” (Joseph Butler)

- “Conscience is the connecting spine and companion teacher of the soul whereby the soul is
dissociated from evil and clings to good” (Origen)

- “Conscience is the reason making moral judgements” (St Thomas Aquinas)

- “The built in monitor of moral action or choice values.” (John Macquarrie)


 Synderesis is the habitual knowledge of the first principles whose proper act is to
decide in a general way that good must be done and evil must be avoided while
conscience decides in an individual case. The moral habit of synderesis never errs;
conscience may err.
 Moral science deduces objective conclusions from the first principles; while
conscience is something subjective and may or may not agree with moral science.
 Prudence is a virtue - a habit. Sometimes, however, the act of prudence coincides
with conscience.
 Natural law embraces the objective principles of morality while conscience uses
these principles to decide whether an act should be done or omitted.


A. With regard to the act considered by conscience

1. Antecedent - if it precedes the act to be done; commands, forbids, counsels or permits the doing of
an act.
2. Consequent - of it passes judgment on the act already done.

B. With regard to its conformity with the eternal law (Judgment in accordance with fact)

1. True or Correct – when it deduces correctly from the principles that the act is lawful.
2. False or Erroneous – when it decides from false principles considered as true that something is



a. Kinds of Erroneous Conscience:

 Scrupulous - one that for little or no reason judges an act to be morally evil when in
fact it is not.
 Perplex - judges wrongly that sin is committed both in the performance or omission
of an act.
 Lax - judges on insufficient ground that there is no sin in the act, or that the sin is not
as grave it is in fact.
 Pharisaical - minimizes grave sins but maximizes small ones.


Conscience that is erroneous without the knowledge or fault of the agent, is

called invincibly erroneous or inculpably erroneous, while conscience that is erroneous
through the agent’s fault, is culpably erroneous.

C. With regard to the act of assent

1. Certain – when without any prudent fear of error it decides that the act is either lawful or unlawful.

Moral Certainty may be:

 Perfect (strict) - when it excludes any prudent doubt.

 Imperfect (wide) – when some slight reasons militate against truth of a doubt which is
founded on serious motive
 Speculative – when the intellect considers the truth of some matter objectively without
any direct reference to a particular case.
 Practical – when it is concerned with an act to be done here and now.
 Direct - based on intrinsic principles that clearly reveal the moral character of the act.
 Indirect - derived from what are called reflex principles.

2. Doubtful – when it fails to pass a moral judgment on the character of the act due to a fear of error.

Doubts may be:

 Dubium iuris – doubt as to the existence of some law

 Dubium facti – doubt as to the existence of some fact
 Positive – when the fear of error is based on grave reasons
 Negative – when the fear of error rests on slight reasons
 Speculative – concerning that morality of an act objectively considered irrespective of its
actual commission or omission
 Practical – concerned with the morality of the act performed to be performed here and




To form one’s conscience is to get rid of doubt and achieve certainty; it is to make up one’s
mind clearly and definitely on what is required in a given individual instance; it is to reason out the
right and wrong of a given situation.

It is not always possible to have absolute certitude in matters of conscience, but it is always
possible to achieve moral certitude directly or indirectly.

Moral certitude is sufficient and requisite for the guidance of the conscience – judgment
when there is question of the lawfulness or unlawfulness of an act here and now to be determined





• An ethical framework is a set of codes that an individual uses to guide his or her behavior. Ethics are
what people use to distinguish right from wrong in the way they interact with the world. So, the best
solution for a particular problem, based on the moral judgment of the moral agent that is a moral

• Moral values help in improving behavior, instilling respect and enhancing relationships with
others. Knowing what is right or wrong is an important element in life that shapes the character on
an individual. A good moral value allows a person to make the right decisions and improve their
interactions with other people.


• The most important characteristic of the Eastern world view - one could almost say the essence of it -
is the awareness of the unity and mutual interrelation of all things and events, the experience of all
phenomena in the world as manifestations of a basic oneness. All things are seen as interdependent
and inseparable parts of this cosmic whole; as different manifestations of the same ultimate reality.


• This system of beliefs and way of life was propagated by Confucius, better known in China as
“Master Kong”, a fifth century BCE Chinese philosopher, teacher and became a government
employee in his region.

• Confucian ethics focuses on ideals of characters and the virtues that entail these ideals. They are
found in the Analects composed of Confucius’ sayings and his conversation with his followers.

The Gentleman (“Chun Tzu”)

• The idea of Confucius of an ethical person may be embodied in his concept of the Chun Tzu
(Gentleman) .
• His theory was that a man could become a Chun Tzu through education and by practicing certain
• He emphasized the five virtues namely:
• Jen (benevolence),
• Li (propriety),
• Yi (righteousness),
• Chih (wisdom), and
• Hsin (sincerity).



Jen/ Ren

• Jen/Ren is the most important virtue in Confucianism. In achieving the Chun Tzu, jen is the vital
factor because a gentleman would be worthless without jen. It is a comprehensive ethical virtue
that can mean benevolence, humanness and goodness. Therefore if one practices jen, there will
be no bad side of him.

• Jen manifests itself in the inner mind and the compassion toward other people. Confucianism
taught that to do well or be humane is the best way to acquire knowledge.

• Confucius defined humaneness in different ways to different people.

• To Ran Rong, it was do unto others as if doing onto yourself. (The Golden Rule)
• To Yan Yuan he emphasized rituals, (Ancestral Worship and Filial Piety)
• and to Fan Chi it was love (Reciprocity, Faithfulness, Altruism).

Rectification of Names

• At the heart of Confucius’ teaching is the idea that society works harmoniously well when each
person understands his proper role and acts accordingly. There would be a well – ordered society
when things are in actual fact accord or agree with the implication attached to them by names.

• Every name contains certain implications which are the essence of the class of things to which
the name applies, therefore the form and substance should coincide.


Good Life Chun Tzu


Virtues Filial Piety Reciprocity




• It is an ancient tradition of Chinese philosophy and religious belief attributed to Lao Tzu (c. 500 BCE)
that is deeply rooted in Chinese customs and worldview.

• Taoism is about the Tao. This is usually translated as the Way. But it's hard to say exactly what this
means. The Tao is the ultimate creative principle of the universe. All things are unified and connected
in the Tao.

• Taoism promotes:

• achieving harmony or union with nature

• the pursuit of spiritual immortality
• being 'virtuous' and self-development

• The ‘path’ one should take or follow; it is nature’s way adopted as a normative guide to one’s

• The way of ultimate reality; way of the universe; way of human life. The root source or first-cause of
the universe: "that which makes things what they are.”

• The “name” for the self-contained totality of all there is and all that happens.

Six Principles of Taoism

Taoists believe in the separation of oneself from the world in order to see the world for what it is
and truly rejoining it in bliss. To alienate oneself and to see the bigger picture as a much more
viable option of a whole than that of the individual. It is because of this that Taoists have set
certain principles in order to comprehend their relationship to the Tao. This carries over to their
set standard for society.

• Selflessness

• Taoists must learn to redefine themselves, not as outwardly elements of the world,
but as a piece of a whole.

• Moderation

• Man must be aware of his or her limitations so as to not destroy the balance of the

• Humility

• Humility means doing your job with detachment from the outcome. One understands
that the universe is forever out of control, and that trying to dominate events goes
against the current of the Tao.



• Non-Contrivance

• Since nature is dynamic, and contrived morals are stiff, contrived morals go against

• Embracing the Mystery

• Mystery is what makes games fun, and to Taoists, mystery is what makes life fun. For
this reason, Taoists still retain their basic innate fear. As Lao Tzu put it, "they were
careful, as someone crossing an iced-over stream," yet "Receptive as a valley, clear as
a glass of water." They balance their fear with their curiosity to seek the true
potential of their existence

• Detachment

• There are two polarities overriding all existence, to attach to one or the other would
be to misunderstand them. By nature, they are inseparable. To have one, you
implicitly have the other. Therefore the Tao Te Ching often teaches detachment. The
Tao Te Ching teaches that learning is a part of life, but what you learn
doesn't belong to you. The goal of all species is to survive, but only as a part of the
living/dying game. To attach to life and fear death is to misunderstand life. Life is a
cycle, not a grand victory or grand loss.

Immortality (GOAL)

• Immortality doesn't mean living for ever in the present physical body. The idea is that as the
Taoist draws closer and closer to nature throughout their life, death is just the final step in
achieving complete unity with the universe.


One with the

Immortality Tao

Non- Embracing
Selflessness Moderation Humility Detachment
Contrivance the Mystery




• Buddhism was founded by Siddhartha Gautama's experience of enlightenment around 2,500 years
ago, or around 500 B.C.E. The Buddha offered a pathway to understand the nature of suffering and
how it can be overcome.

• According to Buddhist teaching, the human condition has the combination of pain and pleasure,
which is the best training ground for virtue and the achievement of liberation from suffering.

• The essence of the Buddha's teaching can be summed up in two principles: the Four Noble Truths
and the Noble Eightfold Path. The first covers the side of doctrine, the second covers the side of
discipline. In the structure of the teaching these two principles lock together into an indivisible unity
called the dhamma-vinaya, the doctrine-and-discipline, or, in brief, the Dhamma.


• Life is suffering.
• There is suffering because there is desire.
• One has to get rid of desire to get rid of suffering.
• There is a path that leads from suffering (the eightfold path).



Right View Right Speech Right Effort

Right Intention Right Action

Right Livelihood




•Do not murder or commit any violence to any human

Abstain from taking life.
being and animals.

Abstain from taking what is not •Do not steal for stealing emphasizes attachment to
given. possessions.

Abstain from sensuous

•Practice chastity or celibacy

•Truth is powerful and lies are harmful. The Buddhist

Abstain from false speech.
Path is a quest for truth.

Abstain from intoxicants as •Avoid alcohol drinks and recreational drugs. One
tending to cloud the minds. ought to detoxify the body and the mind.


Becoming a

Knows Practices

Noble Eightfold
4 Noble Truths

5 Precepts




• Socrates is famous for his method of incessant questioning which, has come to be known as the
Socratic method. It is in this method that most of the early Platonic dialogues are conducted.
Typically, Socrates begins by asking an authority of a subject, often a Sophist, what that subject
really is.

• The ethics of Socrates in a nutshell gives importance to self and perception to what a good life is.
How we respond to the things that we encounter, may it be a reward or punishment, is the essence
of being ethical.


• Socrates views that knowledge is the key. Knowledge helps us to live correctly and to live the good
life or achieve ευδαιμονια (eudaimonia).

• In order to gain knowledge, Socrates proposes his method of questioning.

• Socrates presents certain ethical standards and one of these standards is that the soul and the
preservation of a pure soul is the most important thing. This idea is shown in the Crito when Socrates
tells his friend Crito that, “the most important thing isn’t living, but living well” (Crito, 48b). He goes
on to explain that “living well, living a fine life, and living justly are the same” (Crito, 48b). This
position illustrates another important aspect of Socratic ethics: Socrates believes that no one
knowingly commits wrong. To commit wrong prevents achieving eudaimonia, thus no one would
knowingly do so. In this view Socrates’ ethics can be seen as the seeking of knowledge in order to
live correctly and to live the happiest life.


ευδαιμονια METHOD

Socratic Method




• Each human being is a combination of a physical body and a non-physical soul. He believed that
the physical world – including our physical bodies – is not really real or important. Therefore, his
ethical theory focuses on the well-being of the soul.

• Justice is harmony between the three different parts of our souls (Reason, Spirit, Appetite), with
reason ruling.

Plato’s Tripartite Soul

Reason (Intellect) The part capable of reasoning, and pursues truth and knowledge. It is the
weakest part of the soul, but the only part capable of governing it well.

Spirit (Will) The part that is proud and concerned with one’s status. It pursues fame and

Appetite (Passion) That which is the largest and most powerful part of the soul, pursues pleasure
and avoids pain. This part is in control of most people’s souls, although this
leads to many undesirable consequences.

Ultimately, Plato argues that justice is a kind of harmony between the three different parts of
the just society which, correspond to the individual’s parts of the soul. When a person achieves
harmony between these parts Plato thinks they will naturally act justly in the conventional sense. But
he also maintains that they will be acting in their own self-interest because the just person is happier
than the unjust person.

Like Socrates, Plato believes there are objective ethical truths that apply to everyone. This
view is in direct opposition to the moral relativism of the Sophists. One of the main tasks of The
Republic, aside from defining justice in an objective way, is to show that being just benefits the just
person. To fulfill these tasks, Socrates - Plato’s mouthpiece throughout his dialogues, defines the just
society in order to make a comparison to the just individual.



• Intellect • Rulers (Philosopher

(Reason) King/ Guardians)
• Will (Spirit) • Auxiliaries (Warriors)
• Passion • Citizens (Workers)

• In Book One of The Republic, the characters attempt to define justice, or righteousness and morals in
general. Polemarchus claims that “justice is helping one’s friends and harming one’s enemies and
that this is what one owes people.”

• Another, given by the Sophist Thrasymachus, is that “justice is to the advantage of the strong” by
which he means that rulers make rules that we have to follow and that justice as we conceive it is no
more than the adherence to their rules. Glaucon states that “justice originates as a compromise
between weak people who are afraid that suffering injustice is worse than doing it.”

• The rest of The Republic is dedicated to the description of the just society and the corresponding just
individual. Plato thinks that the just society is one that is ruled by the Guardians, or philosopher
kings. Philosophers, according to Plato, are the only ones with knowledge of the Forms, and
especially knowledge of the Form of the Good. This part of the books deals more with Plato’s
metaphysics than his direct treatment of the nature of justice, but it is important to note that the
ability to see and recognize the Form of the Good is the requisite for becoming a Guardian.

The two other classes, the Auxillary and Economic classes (yes, that includes financiers), are
subservient to the Guardian class. Justice then becomes the harmony of these classes under the rule
of the Guardians. These classes correspond to Intellect (reason), Will (emotion) and the Passion
(appetite) of the individual’s soul and justice in the individual is also a harmony between these parts
ruled by reason. Thus, the just man is one that “does not allow any part of himself to do the work of
another part or allow the various classes within him to meddle with each other.”




Eudaimonia Justice

Harmony of
the Parts of
the Soul



Intellect Guardians Wisdom Pride

Will Warriors Courage Anger/Envy

Passion Workers Temperance Lust & Greed


• Aristotle’s main work on ethics is the book titled Nicomachean Ethics. Like the Greek thinkers before
him Aristotle thinks eudaimonia, which means human flourishing or happiness, should be the main
goal of life.

• The purpose of human life is eudaimonia (human flourishing, happiness) and to achieve eudaimonia,
one must be virtuous.

• There are three key components to understanding Aristotle’s ethics. The first is his arguments for
why eudiamonia should be sought above all else. The second is his view of the human function and
the third is what is called the doctrine of the mean. The first line of the Nicomachean Ethics reads,
“Every craft aims at some good.” To understand this statement it is necessary to know that Aristotle
thinks in a teleological way, which means that everything has a purpose.



• Happiness

 Aristotle argues that human life aims at happiness, and has two reasons for saying this. The
first is because happiness is “unconditionally complete” which, means that happiness is
always the best choice and that we choose happiness for itself and not for another goal
towards which happiness will lead. Take the example of money. We will choose to have
money if we can. However, we will choose money not for the sake of money, but for the
things that money can buy, thus money is not unconditionally complete.

 The second reason that Aristotle identifies happiness as the end goal of human life is because
it is “self-sufficient” that is, happiness is the only thing needed to make the best life and
nothing else is needed.

• The Function Argument

 Once he has established that the end goal that life should aim at is happiness, Aristotle
elaborates on how eudiamonia can be achieved. First, like Plato, Aristotle divides the soul. He
sees it as having two main parts which are each subdivided into two more parts. First he
divides the soul into a rational part and a non-rational part, the rational part includes our
ability to reason on practical matters and theoretical matters, while the non-rational part
contains our nutritive part of the soul which makes us grow and our appetitive part which
dictates our desires and emotions. He then seeks out what the human function might be.

 The human function is thus the ability to use reason, but this is not the end of the argument.
Aristotle points out that a harpist has the function of playing the harp. To best fulfill that
function she must play the harp with excellence (arête). For Aristotle the virtue (arête) of a
thing is to do the thing’s function well. So must a human express his function well. Aristotle
concludes that the full function of a human is to use the rational part of the soul to express
virtue. The rest of the book is dedicated to elaborating on the virtue and how best to express
the human function.

• The Doctrine of the Mean

• Up to this point Plato and Aristotle are similar in thinking humans should seek eudiamonia
and the way to achieve eudiamonia is by living a life of reason. However, Plato thinks that the
virtues naturally arise in us and are not merely a matter of convention. Aristotle, on the other
hand, thinks that while we have the capacity to act virtuously, the virtues are acquired by
habituation. He thinks that virtues can be acquired in much the same way that people acquire
a craft, though habituation, and claims that, “we become just by doing just actions and,
temperate by doing temperate actions, brave by doing brave actions.”(1103b).

• Once we have become habituated to a certain action, a state of character arises. But the
state of character that arises can be bad or good, so it is important to do only the actions
that express good reason; as this is the human function.

• Aristotle maintains that any account on how to be ethical and virtuous will be inexact, but he
does give us something to go by which is known as the doctrine of the mean. This is the idea
that any virtue will, “be ruined by excess or deficiency” (1104a10). For example if we think of



the virtue of bravery, this will be ruined by brashness, the excess of bravery, or by cowardice,
the deficiency of bravery. Unfortunately, being ethical is harder than just knowing what the
mean between excess and deficiency. Being virtuous requires us to know what the mean is
for us as individuals, in the right place, at the right time, and in the right measure.

• To simply understand the Doctrine of the Mean, it can be summarized in this statement:
“Virtus in medio stat.” (Virtue lies in the middle)

Main Points of Aristotle's Ethical Philosophy

1. The highest good and the end toward which all human activity is directed is happiness, which can be
defined as continuous contemplation of eternal and universal truth.
2. One attains happiness by a virtuous life and the development of reason and the faculty of theoretical
wisdom. For this one requires sufficient external goods to ensure health, leisure, and the opportunity
for virtuous action.
3. Moral virtue is a relative mean between extremes of excess and deficiency, and in general the moral
life is one of moderation in all things except virtue. No human appetite or desire is bad if it is
controlled by reason according to a moral principle. Moral virtue is acquired by a combination of
knowledge, habituation, and self-discipline.
4. Virtuous acts require conscious choice and moral purpose or motivation. Man has personal moral
responsibility for his actions.
5. Moral virtue cannot be achieved abstractly — it requires moral action in a social environment. Ethics
and politics are closely related, for politics is the science of creating a society in which men can live
the good life and develop their full potential.

Hellenistic Period

• After the death of Alexander the Great, and the subsequent decline of his Empire, four differing
schools of thought emerged. The ethical views of these schools differed from earlier philosophies in
that they de-emphasized an active political life and turned instead to how man should live outside of
political life.

• We have seen that, in Antiquity,

Ethics was closely linked to the
institutions of religion. Among
the Afro-Asiatic peoples moral
obedience to the law codes was
based on the concept that these
codes took their authority from
the Deity and the Deity’s kingly
representative on earth.
Religious practices involving
priests, sacred oracles and
temples continued in the
Classical and Hellenistic Periods.



Christian Ethics

• A passage of the Torah, "Love your neighbour as yourself" was taken up by the writers of the New
Testament and made part of the theological centerpiece of Christian ethical stance. The New
Testament lets Jesus teach that all the commandments of Jewish religious law could be summarized
in the two rules, "Love God and love your neighbour" (Mark 12:28-31). This is illustrated with
the Parable of the Good Samaritan, which praises action to help any human in need.

• Aside from the commandments, Jesus taught a parallel moral standard with the Beatitude which has
a more intrinsic approach in finding out man’s actions or way of life. Happiness or the ultimate goal
then was the union with God.

• A new epoch in ethics begins with the dawn of Christianity. Ancient paganism never had a clear and
definite concept of the relation between God and the world, of the unity of the human race, of the
destiny of man, of the nature and meaning of the moral law. Christianity first shed full light on these
and similar questions. As St. Paul teaches that God has written his moral law in the hearts of all men,
even of those outside the influence of Christian Revelation; this law manifests itself in the conscience
of every man and is the norm according to which the whole human race will be judged on the day of
reckoning. In consequence of their perverse inclinations, this law had to a great extent become
obscured and distorted among the pagans; Christianity, however, restored it to its prestine integrity.
Thus, too, ethics received its richest and most fruitful stimulus.

• This is particularly true of St Augustine, who proceeded to thoroughly develop along philosophical
lines and to establish firmly most of the truths of Christian morality. The eternal law (lex aterna), the
original type and source of all temporal laws, the natural law, conscience, the ultimate end of man,
the cardinal virtues, sin, marriage, etc. were treated by him in the clearest and most penetrating
manner. Hardly a single portion of ethics does he present to us but is enriched with his keen
philosophical commentaries. Late ecclesiastical writers followed in his footsteps.


• Augustine explained that ethics is an inquiry into the

Man has a wounded nature supreme good, or the Summum Bonum which gives the happiness that
which is the outcome of all human beings seek. This happiness can be found in the enjoyment of
original sin. Having this in God and his presence.
mind, Augustine sees that • His teachings promoted a main theme: the love for God, for
desire is present in man. He the betterment of one’s self, and one’s community. Ethics for
classifies them into three: Augustine was the enjoyment of God.

• In the life that we are currently living, it has been easy for
Desire of the Flesh temptation to enter in and knock us down. St. Augustine proposes the
need to be responsible in using God’s gift of Free Will. Man can only use
Desire for Wealth and properly this gift with the help of God’s grace.
• St. Augustine proposes to follow the commandments when he
Desire for Power or stated “It is our duty to do the will of God because His will is our
Authority deepest will too.” If we continue to rely on what God wants us to do,
our lives will not perish, but it will become joyous instead.



• “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with
all you mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Lk. 10:27)

Chastity Desire of the Flesh

Through the cultivation and practice of

Desire for Wealth or
the Evangelical Counsels, man is able to Poverty
combat the desires present in him.

Desire for Power or



• If St. Augustine starts his inquiry with man’s wounded nature or in the state of original sin, St.
Thomas starts his propositions with man’s nature in the state of original justice where man is
“IMAGO DEI” or the image of God.
• Man’s ultimate goal for St. Thomas is to achieve Beatific Vision.
• First, in contrast to irrational animals, man has the faculty and will of reason. The will, also known as the
rational appetite, seeks to achieve both its end and the good, and so all acts, being guided by the will,
are for an end.
• Second, man’s happiness does not consist of wealth, honor, fame, glory, power, the goods of the body,
or pleasure. In fact, man’s happiness cannot consist in any created good at all, since the ultimate object
of man’s will, the universal good, cannot be found in any creature but rather only in God, who is the
source of all good.
• Third, happiness is man’s supreme perfection, and each thing is perfect insofar as it is actual.
• Fourth, the things required for happiness must derive from the way in which man is constituted and
designed for a purpose, since happiness consists in man’s attainment of that final purpose. Perfect
knowledge of the intelligible end, actual attainment of the end, and delight in the presence of the end
attained must all coexist in happiness.
• Finally, man is capable of attaining happiness, that is, of seeing God, and one person can be happier than
another insofar as she is better inclined to enjoy him. Happiness is the reward for works of virtue. Some
people do not know what happiness consists in and thus do not desire it.




The good effect

The good effect The intention must
The act itself must must come first
must be equal or be good from the
be good or morally before the bad
greater than the start.
neutral effect or
bad effect.


• In traditional philosophy, a good ruler must be morally rectified. He is a man of wisdom, that is,
someone capable of making prudent and consistent decisions in all human affairs. He also acts
according to the established norms of right conduct. His authority and the subjects’ respect for him
are won only if he exhibits this virtuous character. But as Machiavelli might have observed, goodness
of character does not ensure the success of the ruler. Rulers maintain the government not by being
moral but by being powerful.

• Man is a selfish being. In his natural state, he is “ungrateful, disloyal, insincere and deceitful, timid of
danger and avid of profit.” Nothing stops him from pursuing his personal wants – only fear.



• Man lives in a jungle of power politics. He struggles for dominance. His end in life is to occupy a seat
of power in the society. Virtù leads him up there.

• A ruler must possess the boldness of a young man. He must exhibit this spirit in confronting Fortuna.

• Machiavelli metaphorically describes Fortuna as a moody woman who could put lives into ruins
through the sheer expression of her furious nature. Fortuna is the enemy of political order, which,
like the moody woman, destroys the tranquility of the state in the most unexpected times. Rulers
must manage Fortuna with the boldness and vigor of a young men. He must be the aggressor, not
the victim. He must always be prepared for what Fortuna might do. He must beat and ravage her to
tame her and to impose his will.

• Virtù ensures his victory. It equips him with the necessary disposition in responding to the
vicissitudes of Fortuna. A ruler with virtù knows how and is prepared to respond in anytime and at
anyplace to the onslaught of man’s unpredictable fortune. Power only stays on a ruler with virtù.


• For Immanuel Kant, morality is not based on the fact that it has instrumental value, that it often
secures nonmoral goods such as happiness. Rather, morality is valuable in its own right. The
obligation to do our duty is unconditional. That is, we must do it for the sake of duty, because it is the
right thing to do, not because it will profit us psychologically, or economically, not because if we
don’t do it and get caught we’ll be punished.



Kant’s motivation:
For Kant, it is not our
desires that ground
morality but our wants “supreme principle of
Kant’s ‘Duty’ ethics is rational will. Reason is morality” with a firm foundation in
a moral obligation sufficient for reason...
which must come establishing the moral
from within man. law as something
wants principle with intuitive view about
transcendent and
morality - Moral rules that are:
universally binding on
all rational creatures. •universally applicable
•exert a special force on us
•concerned with more than just

Principles of Kantian Ethics

“An action’s moral value is due

to the maxim from which it is
“An act must be done from performed, rather than to its “Obligation is the necessity of
obligation in order to have success in realizing some an action performed from
moral worth.” desired end or purpose.” – respect for law.”
motive of benevolence is
rejected as morally unworthy

The supreme principle or moral law.

Every moral agent recognizes whenever accepting an
Imperative action as morally obligatory

Why is the categorical Human beings are imperfect creatures and

imperative “imperative”? hence need rules imposed upon

These rules enjoin us to do or not to do

something thus we conceive them as
necessitating our action



“GOOD WILL”: The intention or the choice that impels a person to do what is right because it is right through reason.

RIGHT ACTIONS: are those actions done in accordance with “DUTY”

DUTY: Action mandated by the Moral Law. Doing the things you are permitted by the Categorical Imperative.

CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE: A moral test for rightness of an act.



• Thomas Hobbes' contention was that the concept of good and evil are related to human desire and
aversion. In other words, what an individual desires he perceives to be good and what that individual
harbors an aversion to must be bad. This philosophy of values, Hobbes explained, is due to an
attitude of self-preservation and protection.

• Hobbes' contention was that the concept of good and evil are related to human desire and aversion.
In other words, what an individual desires he perceives to be good and what that individual harbors
an aversion to must be bad.

There are two kinds

Desires and Aversions
of endeavors.
GOOD = those things
How he defines we desire
GOOD and EVIL EVIL = those things we

Men are naturally self-interested, yet

they are rational, they will choose to •To ensure their escape from the State of
submit to the authority of a Nature, they must both agree to live
Sovereign in order to be able to live together under common laws, and create
in a civil society, which is conducive an enforcement mechanism for the social
to their own interests. contract and the laws that constitute it.




Horizons are
• Nietzsche hated what Christianity had done to the world

• It zapped it of its greatness

• Nietzsche was an Open Atheist

• The first politically right atheist

• He believed that God would Die

• God dies when men realize they created God—not vise versa
• And with God’s death, also comes the death of Universal ideas and Truths

• How God Dies

• Christianity makes us strive for perfection to relieve guilt

• Thus we use science to obtain order & perfection
• Our Science kills God and our belief in Absolutes
• Science explains everything from creation to the Big Bang

• After God’s death, there will be a crisis

• Without false horizons, most will be lost

• Most (the weak) need this illusion of stability
• Existentialism and suicide

• The Last Man (the herd) in the Crisis

• He is a despicable coward
• He knows that there are no moral “T”ruths, but is afraid to live authentically and think for
• Even though he should feel “liberated,” he repeats the same mistakes and refuses to give up
the old oppressive code



Superman & His Will To Power

What is our Will To Power?

It is the voice in our head/heart

For Nietzsche, it is man’s internal For centuries, it has been that tells us to strive to rise above
drive for greatness and creativity suppressed by Christianity the masses (not take care of them)
and to master everything

• What is a Superman

• Part poet, part philosopher, part saint

• He is the one that sees possibilities in the lost horizon
• He even may need to be cruel and disconnected
• He follows his Will to Power and is FREE for the first time!

• Not all Supermen are alike

• They must be true to themselves—each taking a different path

• Break away from society—Don’t lead!



• To lead
• forces you to take care of others again,
• risks making yourself into a new god,
• may stifle others from being their own supermen.

• But what should a Superman do?

• Nietzsche is purposely vague

• If he told us, we would follow him—not our own Will


• Boredom, anxiety, and despair are the human psyche’s major problems, and Kierkegaard spends
most of his writing diagnosing these three ills. People are bored when they are not being stimulated,
either physically or mentally.

• Conflicts between one’s ethical duty and one’s religious duty cause anxiety. Social systems of ethics
often lead one to make choices that are detrimental to one’s spiritual health, and vice versa. The
tension between these conflicting duties causes anxiety, and like boredom, anxiety must be escaped
for a person to be happy.

• Finally, despair is a result of the tension between the finite and the infinite. Humans are frightened of
dying, but they are also frightened of existing forever. Faith required intense personal commitment
and a dedication to unending self-analysis. Kierkegaard thought that having total faith in God, and
thus escaping despair, was extremely difficult as well as extremely important.

• Kierkegaard proposed that the individual passed through three stages on the way to becoming a
true self:

• The Aesthetic as the First Stage on Life’s Way

• The aesthetic is the realm of sensory experience and pleasures. The aesthetic life is
defined by pleasures, and to live the aesthetic life to the fullest one must seek to
maximize those pleasures. Increasing one’s aesthetic pleasures is one way to combat
• The importance of the aesthetic is acknowledged, but it is also presented as an immature
stage. The aesthete is only concerned with his or her personal enjoyment, and because
aesthetic pleasure is so fleeting, an aesthete has no solid framework from which to make
coherent, consistent choices.

• The Ethical as the Second Stage on Life’s Way

• The aesthetic life must be subordinated to the ethical life, as the ethical life is based on a
consistent, coherent set of rules established for the good of society. A person can still
experience pleasure while living the ethical life. The ethical life serves the purpose of
allowing diverse people to coexist in harmony and causes individuals to act for the good
of society. The ethical person considers the effect his or her actions will have on others



and gives more weight to promoting social welfare than to achieving personal gain. The
ethical life also affords pleasures that the aesthetic does not. Aesthetics steers one away
from consistency, since repetition can lead to boredom.

• The Religious as Third Stage on Life’s Way

• In the aesthetic life, one is ruled by passion. In the ethical life, one is ruled by societal
regulations. In the religious life, one is ruled by total faith in God. One can never be truly
free, and this causes boredom, anxiety, and despair. True faith doesn’t lead to freedom,
but it relieves the psychological effects of human existence. Kierkegaard claims that the
only way to make life worthwhile is to embrace faith in God, and that faith necessarily
involves embracing the absurd. One has faith in God, but one cannot believe in God.


• Utilitarianism is a theory of moral philosophy that is based on the principle that an action is morally
right if it produces a greater quantity of good or happiness than any other possible action.

• It requires us to look at the consequences to determine the morality of an action and claim
that the morality of the action depends on the amount of “goodness” that the action
produces. In the case of both Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, good = pleasure

John Stuart Mill’s adjustments to Utilitarianism is that he argues that we must consider the quality of the
happiness, not merely the quantity.

GOOD = Happiness (Pleasurable)

Mill argued that cultural, intellectual and spiritual pleasures are of greater value than mere physical
pleasure as valued by a competent judge (which, according to Mill, is anyone who has
experienced both the lower pleasures and the higher).




• Being and Time (Sein undt Zeit)

• It is an exploration of the meaning of being as defined by temporality, and is analysis of

time as a horizon for the understanding of being.
• In his view of philosophy as phenomenological ontology, beginning with the
hermeneutics of Da-sein (there-being).




•For Christians, acting means that Fletcher disagrees
on love must… with this approach to
traditionally, a
•NON PREFERENTIAL agape and seems
loving action can willing to place the
take no account individual interests
HEART, MIND, of the immediate over the interests of
BODY AND situation. humanity.

• Fletcher argues that the Situational approach is the only appropriate response to real ethical
dilemmas. It values individual freedom, puts people first and acknowledges the genuine diversity of
circumstances. It guards against acting on selfish impulse or whim, and respects the values of the
community (i.e. agape), but is sufficiently flexible.

• Six Fundamental Principles

• 1. “Only one thing is intrinsically good; namely love: nothing else at all.”
• 2. “The ruling norm of Christian decision is love: nothing else.”
• 3. “Love and Justice are the same, for justice is love distributed nothing else”.
• 4. “Love wills the neighbour's good, whether we like him or not.”
• 5. “Only the end of love justifies the means, nothing else.”
• 6. “Love's decisions are made situationally, not prescriptively.”


• Consequentialism (or Teleological Ethics) is an approach to Ethics that argues that the morality of an
action is contingent on the action's outcome or consequence. Thus, a morally right action is one that
produces a good outcome or result, and the consequences of an action or rule generally outweigh all
other considerations.




• Another approach to ethical theory – one with great contemporary significance – is to base ethical
obligation on some notion of rights.

• The concept of rights based ethics is that there are some rights, both positive and negative, that all
humans have based only on the fact that they are human. These rights can be natural or
conventional. That is, natural rights are those that are moral while conventional are those created by
humans and reflect society's values.


• Totalitarianism refers to an authoritarian political system or state that regulates and controls nearly
every aspect of the public and private sectors. Totalitarian regimes establish complete political,
social, and cultural control over their subjects, and are usually headed by a charismatic leader. In
general, Totalitarianism involves a single mass party, typically led by a dictator; an attempt to
mobilize the entire population in support of the official state ideology; and an intolerance of
activities which are not directed towards the goals of the state, usually entailing repression and state
control of business, labour unions, churches and political parties.
State Control
of Society
• business
Dictatorship &
Modern Technology • labor
One-Party Rule
• mass communication • housing
• exercises absolute
to spread propaganda • education
• advance military
• dominates the
Dynamic Leader
Methods of
• unites people
• symbolizes
• police terror
• indoctrination
• encourages popular
• censorship
support through
• persecution
force of will

State Control
of Individuals
• sets goals of
• demands loyalty
the state
• denies basic liberties TOTALITARIANISM
• glorified aims of
• expects personal
the state
sacrifice for the
• glorified govern
good of the state


• Moral Relativism (or Ethical Relativism) is the position that moral or ethical propositions do not
reflect objective and/or universal moral truths, but instead make claims relative to social, cultural,
historical, or personal circumstances. It does not deny outright the truth-value or justification of
moral statements (as some forms of Moral Anti-Realism do), but affirms relative forms of them. It
may be described by the common aphorism: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”.




What is Moral Theology or Christian Ethics?

Christian ethics is not a dry monologue from the pulpit. It is a vigorous dialogue about the really
important things in life, about what matters in building up a family, in sustaining a healthy society, in
love, in medicine, in law, in ecology. So much is at stake in moral dialogue, In fact, even further - our
eternal salvation depends upon the choices we make, and whether we allow divine truth to infuse
our actions.

Here is one definition of Christian ethics:

“Christian ethics is that branch of theology that studies human acts so as to direct them to a loving
vision of God seen as our true happiness and final end. This vision is attained by means of grace, the
virtues and the gifts, in the light of revelation and reason.” This is the definition of Servais Pinckaers
O.P., rooted in the tradition of St Thomas Aquinas.

Other definitions speak of “the moral law, its imperatives and obligations”, or “human acts as
conformed to duty” or “how Christian faith should shape Christian life” as central in Christian ethics.
What advantages has Pinckaers’ definition over these others?

The Specificity of Christian Ethics

Christian ethics is a composite discipline. It draws on many other branches of theology for its raw
material, including Biblical Studies, Patristics, Dogmatic Theology, Church History, Spirituality and
Canon Law. It is concerned with the way we live our Christian lives. It aims to answer the questions:
how should the Gospel influence our daily behaviour and life decisions? How should we respond to
the grace which Christ has given us?

Moral theology is not merely philosophy or philosophical ethics. It differs from the moral writings of
the great philosophers – Aristotle, Plato, Kant, Kierkegaard, etc., in that it starts from and continually
dialogues with Revelation. It is not merely man working out how he should live his life: What sort of a
being is the human person? What ought I to do? What can I hope for? It includes this, but it is based
upon God's answers to man's questions. God Himself has revealed to us certain fundamental values,
aims and laws through the life of Christ, through the Scriptures and the Church. In moral theology we
are imbibing this divine wisdom, applying it to daily life, but also challenging it with novel situations.
We want to understand more deeply the universal laws written into the human constitution by God
the Creator. Then, by acting in accord with our given nature, and God's will for us, we can fulfil the
purpose for which God created us.

There is an ancient proverb: 'Man proposes; God disposes'. There are many philosophers who
propose all kinds of different meanings to life and solutions to life's questions. However, in Catholic
moral theology we are concerned with God's answers to the moral dilemmas of human life. In the
Judaeo-Christian Revelation, God has given us the basic principles: we have to apply them in practice.



What are our sources for the study of Moral Theology?

As with Catholic theology in general, moral theology is rooted in the sources of Revelation (Scripture
and Tradition) as interpreted by the Church’s Magisterium. But because moral theology applies the
principles flowing from Revelation to many practical areas of life, in its application it must draw upon
various human sciences (medicine, psychology, philosophy, economics etc.)

Biblical Foundations of Christian Ethics

Vatican II emphasized that Sacred Scripture should be “the soul, as it were, of all theology” so that is
where we shall begin.

Old Testament: (i) Torah

Old Testament morality is a covenant morality. It is lived out within the Old Covenant, made by God
with his chosen people Israel. The covenant with Abraham was the original basis of the Hebrews'
relationship with Yahweh. Then on Sinai during the Exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land a
covenant was made with the whole people of Israel.

An intrinsic part of this covenant was the Decalogue (Exod. 20:1-21). Once the Promised Land has been
conquered, Joshua summons the tribes together and renews the Covenant at Shechem (Joshua 24).
Solomon too renews the Covenant with Yahweh at the consecration of the Jerusalem Temple in 1
Kings 8. It is renewed every seven years at the feast of Tabernacles.

The Decalogue (Ten Commandments) is not the only rule of behaviour in the Covenant. There are also
the Code of the Covenant (Ex.20:22-23:33) which contains case law, and bears comparison with the
legislation of surrounding peoples like the Sumerians, Assyrians and Babylonians.

 The Ritual Covenant (Ex.34:12-27), concerning worship, feastdays, first fruits and the
 Statutes and Ordinances (Deut.12-26), a compilation of social customs and laws.
 Holiness Code (Lev.17-27) on maintaining ritual purity, avoiding defilement and
 Priestly code (Lev.1-7, 11-15, Num.28-29). Rules of sacrifice, guilt offerings,
circumcision, kosher laws and leprous diseases.

The making of the Sinai Covenant is bound up with the Passover, the escape from bondage to
Pharaoh and the miraculous traverse of the Red Sea. Moses ascends Mount Sinai as the terrified
people watch from below, and a powerful theophany takes place: thunder, lightning, trumpet blast,
fire smoke and thick darkness. God speaks to Moses in the thunder.

Afterwards the Covenant is sealed by sacrifice (ch.24): half of the blood is thrown on the altar. The
Book of the Covenant is read, and the people respond, "All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and
we will be obedient." Moses sprinkles the rest of the blood over the people, saying "Behold the
blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words."

Earlier God had revealed his personal name YHWH to Moses, and then freed his people from their
oppressors. He gives the Decalogue this context of liberation, and invites the Hebrew people to a



new freedom after their experience of slavery. By observing the 'Ten Words' they show their
gratitude for YHWH's liberating love. They remain His people, and He will be their God.

In the Bible, moral law is essentially religious, and is bound up with this order of salvation. OT
morality is not autonomous: every law refers directly to YHWH. To keep the law is to please Him. To
break it is to insult Him, and even to exclude oneself from His chosen people.

OT morality is thus radically different from Greek ethics and indeed from modern philosophical
ethics. The Greeks tried to build up a moral system on the basis of human reason and various ideas of
'the good life.' But the Hebrews were convinced that YHWH had given their moral commandments,
and that they are rooted in his will. Ethics for them was not a matter of debate, but of obedience.

Among the other Ancient Near Eastern tribes many pagan gods were worshipped. They made their
demands upon their followers in terms of cultic requirements. Only YHWH demands faithful and
loving relationships among his people. Moreover, to guard them from the surrounding idolatries,
polytheism is explicitly rejected. The daily confession of faith, the Shema, begins with: "Hear, O Israel,
the Lord our God is one Lord . . .” (Deut.6:4)

The fact that YHWH in his loving kindness (hesed) has chosen Israel out of all peoples on earth,
makes them special and gives them unique responsibility: "You alone have I known of all the families
of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities." (Amos 3:2) However the gift of the
covenant is not purely for Israel's self-admiration or to foster feelings of exclusivity. The Covenant is
a testimony to the nations. Israel is called to stand before God as His intermediary with all humanity.
The Law, the "tables of the testimony", are bound for the whole human race. Isaiah foresees a day
when many peoples shall say: "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the
God of Jacob, so that He may teach us His ways and we may walk in His paths." (Is.2:3)

Israel is the Lord's elect. She has a special role in His plan for humanity. She must be a consecrated
people, a light to the nations, holy and sacred. The ground of Israelite morality is this: "You shall be
holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy." (Lev.19:2). Israel must take on this quality of holiness from
God. Therefore she must be separated from defilement and false gods. (Deut.4:15-20) God wants her
as a people for Himself, different from all the neighbouring tribes who prostrate themselves before
idols and commit immorality. He warns that those who desert the Covenant will perish (Deut.7:9-10,

Every precept of the Decalogue reveals an aspect of God's Holiness, His infinite sanctity and
perfection. Israel's duty is to obey God's commandments, to fear the Lord "that you may not sin"
(Ex.20:20), and to love the Lord "with all your heart and soul and mind" (Deut.6:4)

The Decalogue is a community law. Greek ethics were by and large individualistic, but the Hebrews
have an intense awareness of solidarity. The second table of the Decalogue (4-10) is dedicated to
protecting community life. Evil cannot be tolerated: "You shall purge the evil from your midst." (Deut
19:19) The death penalty is exacted for grave offences which threaten the existence of the
community. Israel has a special moral code: when Amnon tries to commit incest with his sister
Tamar, she replies "Such a thing is not done in Israel,." (2 Sam.13:12)

Whereas much of Mosaic law is casuistic (concerns particular cases, casus in Latin). The Decalogue is
apodictic: it consists of short, absolute imperatives, mostly negative. It does not deal with every



specific case. It needs to be explicated, unfolded, for particular circumstances. It expresses the
absolute and unconditional will of YHWH.

Several commandments take the form of universal, exceptionless moral prohibitions: in Hebrew "lo
tirsach" - you shall not kill (murder); "lo tin'af" - you shall not commit adultery; "lo tignov" - you shall
not steal. Hebrew has two forms of the negative participle "not": lo is the strong, universal
prohibition form. 'al is milder (do not do X on this particular occasion, although it might be OK at
other times)

However these commandments need further precision. For example, the verb rasach from which "lo
tirsach" is derived signifies blood murder. It did not apply to the killing of animals, killing in self-
defence or in war, or capital punishment. Na'af includes any sexual impurity, so its scope is wider
than just adultery. Ganav (lo tignov) is to steal, but the poor had the right to be fed, and if they were
starving and took another's crops this was not stealing. Jewish farmers were obliged not to reap
their fields twice, so as to leave some grain or fruit behind for the widow, the orphan and the
stranger to glean.

This reveals the unusually humanitarian quality of the Jewish Law. It is designed to protect the
widow, the orphan, the poor, the stranger, the hired servants, aliens and the common labourer. A
family's millstone cannot be taken in pledge, for they need it to prepare their food. A cloak taken in
pledge must be returned before nightfall. The Sabbath rest and Jubilee Years apply equally to the
slave and the foreigner as to Jews.

Hence the Decalogue is one of the wonders of God, the mirabilia Dei. It is a means of freedom and
social justice. It represents a more radical deliverance than the historic Exodus: a liberation from the
subtle slavery of disorderly passions, a passage from selfish inclinations to a fuller life in God.

Old Testament: (ii) Prophets:

During the following centuries God inspired the prophets to rebuke Israel for her unfaithfulness to
the Covenant. Repeatedly they summoned her back to fidelity, to the path of justice and obedience.
When faced with obstinate resistance, they had to threaten her with the dire consequences of non-
compliance: foreign invasions, war, destruction and the exile into Babylon. The prophetic books have
a tone of quality of denunciation and reproof, different from the legislation of the Torah.

For YHWH lip-service to the cult is never sufficient. He demands sincere worship backed up by
righteous conduct and justice to the poor (Amos, Hosea, Isaiah). Through the prophets Israel is
taught about individual responsibility. Each man shall be rewarded or punished for his own
behaviour, not for that of his fathers and ancestors (Ezek.33:20). Jeremiah promises a New
Covenant, where the Law will be interiorised: "I will put my law within them, and I will write it on
their hearts. they shall be my people, and I will be their God" (31:33). Ezekiel too tells of this new
dispensation: "A new heart I will give you, and a new Spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of
your flesh the heart of stone, and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and
cause you to walk in my statutes. ." (36:26-7)

The Law is to be not merely external. A new inner dynamism of heart and spirit will make men
capable of observing it fully.



Old Testament: (iii) Wisdom Literature

The Books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) and the Wisdom of Solomon are a
mixture of meditation on the Law and shrewd advice. They show a reflective and didactic mood, in
contrast to the tirades of the Prophets. They seem to be directed at young men in the royal service
or civic life, who by moral living will prosper and advance. Reading these texts maybe 2500 years
after their conception, we can still relate to many of the experiences referred to. Human nature has
not changed that much. They afford a good demonstration of the validity of the "natural law
principle" (see Ch.5).

Prov. 11-12 contains some intriguing couplets: "A false balance is an abomination to the Lord . . "
Sirach warns his readers about duties towards parents (3:1-16), loose talk (19:4-12), swearing and foul
talk (23:7-15); women in general (25:13-26-18); and not overeating or getting drunk at banquets (31:12-
31). Everything is situated within the framework of trust in Yahweh and fidelity to Him.

Psalm 15 is a liturgical summary of moral conduct: Lord, who has the right to enter your tent? . . The
man whose way of life is blameless, who always does what is right… “This chant may have been
sung responsorially as pilgrims entered the Temple in Jerusalem.

The Psalmist expresses a deep delight in the law: "Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all the day
long. Your words are sweet to my taste, sweeter than honey in the mouth. Your word is a lamp to my
steps, and a light to my path." (Ps.119)

What are the distinctive notes of Old Testament morality?

1. In contrast to the moral and legal codes of surrounding cultures, in Israel the entire law and all
spheres of life are consistently placed under the absolute rule of YHWH. All moral action is
inseparably bound up with the worship of the Lord. Good and evil are immediately referred to what
pleases Him or what offends Him and incurs the divine wrath. The moral codes of the pagans have a
more humanistic, horizontal quality: worship and morality are not connected. For them there is no
necessary contradiction in worshipping your idol and going out immediately to kill your neighbour. .
If that appears strange to us, it shows how profoundly the Judaeo-Christian outlook has formed us.
Unthinkingly we regard religion and morality as bosom companions.

2. Monotheism is the principle of unity for the moral and legal order. In matters of justice there are no
class differences. The Covenant Law applies to every member of God's people equally, be he king or
pauper. There is equality before the moral law.

3. Manipulations of the divine will by magic are excluded. Punishment for sin cannot be avoided by
magic formulae, nor can magic win the favour of YHWH. He is impartial and just, and cannot be

4. The Jewish law shows a high regard for every human person, made in the image and likeness of God.
For instance, the Code of Hammurabi and the Assyrian code prescribe lots of mutilations and
amputations as punishments for crime. Judaism does not allow these. Even the poor are protected.

5. The goal of the moral life is fellowship with YHWH.



6. On the negative side, the Jewish law has certain shortcomings. It believes that reward and
retribution arrive in this life: an early form of "prosperity theology." Obey God and you will be rich
and have many children. There is a certain enlightened self-interest in serving YHWH, a flavour of
eudaemonism. God's election of the Jews predisposed them to be nationalistic and racist at times,
looking down upon the ignorant Gentiles. The Law for a while tolerated polygamy, divorce and
slavery, and the lex talionis limited revenge to just equality ("an eye for an eye").

New Testament

In the New Covenant, as in Jewish ethics, God Himself is the source and motive of all moral
obligation. The New Testament rests upon God's actions, redeeming humanity through Christ's
death and resurrection. Instead of the Decalogue given from Sinai, Jesus presents the Sermon on the
Mount (Matt.5-7) as the core of his ethical teaching.

Synoptic Gospels:

Jesus' teaching transcends the national and racial boundaries of Judaism and lays the foundations
for a universal world religion. His basic themes are:

the Kingdom of God. The one true God will rule in human hearts and lives. Jesus demands total
devotion to the Father. This requires:

Repentance, undergo metanoia, a change of heart and mind, a change of behaviour. Repentance is
more than just "feeling sorry for sin". Whoever wants to enter the Kingdom must repent and believe.
Christian morality is for those who want the Kingdom, who want God's gift of eternal life and joy.

Believe in the Son of God. Faith is required, assent, trust and submission to the message He himself
will preach at His Father's behest. Alone of all prophets and avatars (Moses, Mohammed, Buddha
etc.), Jesus puts Himself on the same level as God and claims divine prerogatives.

Jesus' moral teaching is rarely presented as a table of precepts like the Decalogue, or in catalogues
of virtues and vices such as we find in the letters of the Apostles. His style is dramatic, poetic and
imaginative. It comes through parables and stories. Sometimes he uses exaggeration and hyperbole
("the plank in your own eye").

He issues stirring challenges to a boundless generosity: "Turn the other cheek . . . let him have your
cloak as well . . . go two miles. . . give to anyone who begs from you" (Matt.5:38-42).

The scope of God's commandment is limitless. It goes beyond any external written law to a fully
comprehensive radical obedience. It is unfulfillable, even to St Paul! (Phil.3:12-3) Jesus also stresses
that good and evil flow from the heart. He gives primacy to inner dispositions over external legality.
Some Pharisees, for instance, keep the letter of the Law, but have lost its spirit.

Jesus' message is not merely novel in its form: a call to awake. There is novelty too in its content, as
compared to the OT. His disciples must be salt to the earth and light to the world. They should be
merciful and peacemakers. They must persevere in prayer, even for their enemies. They must forgive



others their trespasses and carry out the corporal works of mercy (Matt.25). The 614 rules of the
Torah are reduced to two great commandments, love of God and love of neighbour (before Catholic
canon lawyers expand them again to 1752 canons!). In the Parable of the Good Samaritan the word
"neighbour" takes on a universal sense, pointing especially at the poor and needy. Brotherly love and
love of God must henceforth go hand in hand.

What is Jesus' attitude to the Law of Moses, the Torah?

1. The Decalogue is still binding. "If you would enter life, keep the commandments." (Mt.19:17)
2. Jesus has come "not to abolish but to perfect the law" (Mt.5:17). "He brings the commandments to
fulfilment . . . by interiorizing their demands and bringing out their fullest meaning" (VS 15). The
Decalogue now applies to inner thoughts as well as to external acts. Lustful thoughts are also
adultery. "The precept prohibiting adultery becomes an invitation to a pure way of looking at others,
capable of respecting the spousal meaning of the body." "Thou shalt not kill" calls man to protect
and promote his neighbour's life. So a man shall answer for the angry word, as well as for murder.
3. Jesus restores the Law to the original intentions of its divine promulgator. He revokes the permission
given to Moses for divorce and insists upon the indissolubility of the marriage bond (Mk 10:2-12),
referring back to the order of creation. He opposes the legalism of the Pharisees, who tithe their
"dill and mint and cumin but neglect the weightier matters: justice, mercy, good faith" (Mt.23:23).
The little regulations of the oral tradition (halakah) must not be allowed to take precedence over
God's will.
4. Jesus is an observant Jew, but He regards himself as free to alter the law of YHWH: "Of old it was
said to you . . . but I say unto you" (Mt. 5:21,27,31,33,38,41). He does not justify his authority for doing
5. Jesus rejects the unnecessary burdens of the ceremonial law, and insists upon the superiority of
God's will over merely human legislation. He disregards part of the ritual laws and man-made
regulations: washings, fastdays, the prohibition of Sabbath healing, mixing with sinners, Mosaic
kosher laws (Mk 7:19 contradicts Lev.11: "Thus he pronounced all foods clean").
6. The Beatitudes form the quintessence of Jesus' moral message. They fulfil the hopes of the faithful
remnant of Israel, the anawim, poor, persecuted, thirsting for righteousness. They form the Magna
Carta of the new Covenant, "the perfect pattern of the Christian life" (St Augustine). Unreserved
obedience to the Father is far greater than any holocaust or sacrifice. He stands by the absolute
claim of God's call over man's life.

The Beatitudes "speak of the basic attitudes and dispositions in life and therefore they do not
coincide exactly with the commandments. On the other hand, there is no separation or opposition
between the Beatitudes and the commandments: both refer to the good, to eternal life." They are
"above all, promises, from which there also indirectly flow normative indications for the moral life . . they
are a sort of self-portrait of Christ . . .invitations to discipleship and to communion of life with Christ."
(Veritatis Splendor 16)

Moral Teaching of the Early Church

The apostolic Church did not have a blueprint for every aspect of Christian morality. They had to
apply Jesus' words and example to whatever situation they found themselves in. In practice the Apostles
issue concrete practical precepts, not vague generalisations. They do not leave good and evil to be decided
by the individual Christian's intuition or imagination. Their teaching is not original. It assimilates Jesus' words.



It uses the Old Testament along with general church practice, Greek thought and contemporary wisdom
literature. In his epistles St Paul entreats, counsels, exhorts, admonishes, but ultimately he is peremptory in
giving orders on his own apostolic authority. Several times he threatens to excommunicate those who
disagree or disobey.

The primary elements of Christian morality are as follows:

 The outpouring of the Holy Spirit has worked a joyful transformation in the lives of
the early Christians. It is the driving impulse throughout the Acts of the Apostles,
filling their lives with power (dunamis) and bringing forth a host of charismatic and
miraculous demonstrations of the truth of the Gospel. "The Spirit of God has made
his home in you" (Rom.8:9). "The pneuma (Spirit) as the holy and effective power of
God, given to the baptised person and working constantly in him, has to overcome
the corrupting power of the sarx, the natural man inclined to sin." (Schnackenburg)

 The Holy Spirit created in the early Church a close fellowship or koinonia. Luke gives a
somewhat idealised picture in Acts 2:42-7 & 4:32-5 of daily prayers, the Eucharist, the
sharing of property according to needs. The "followers of the Way" were closely
united in the face of trials and persecutions, and expected the return of the Risen
Lord (the parousia) within a relatively short time.

 Charity (agape) is the centre of the New Law, its soul and binding force: "The love of
God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us"
(Rom.5:5). Love is the greatest gift (1 Cor.13).

"As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love. If you keep my
commandments, you will remain in my love." (Jn 15:9-10) Obeying Jesus allows the
life of the Holy Trinity, the divine agape, to increase in the believer's heart and mind:
"If anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall
come to him and make our home with him. Those who do not love me do not keep
my words" (Jn 14:23). By the indwelling of the Holy Trinity the person is transformed,
divinized. He becomes intimate with the Divine Reality. His actions and thoughts flow
from this interior communion with the living God.

 Christians are not under the law but under grace and "in the Spirit." St Paul explains
that the Law was good and holy. It expressed God's loving will. It was like the
custodian, the paedogogus who every day escorted the young pupil to his tutor, and
goes over the lessons as they walk along the way. It was a preparation for the
coming of Christ, the new Lawgiver. Sadly, on account of sin, the Law became an
instrument of condemnation, a "curse", because it showed up man's disobedience to
God. It taught man what he should do, but it did not give him the grace to achieve it.
"The very command which promised life proved to be death for me. For sin, finding
an opportunity in the commandment deceived me and by it killed me" (Rom.7:10-11).

 In the New Covenant the external law is replaced by the internal dynamism of the
Holy Spirit within the believer. He receives within himself this novel source of spiritual
energy. It enables him not just to keep the law, but to go beyond it bearing the fruit
of the Spirit (Gal.5:22) in a free and loving fulfilment of God's will.



Christian freedom from the law, however, must not become an excuse for
licentiousness. "You were called to freedom, brothers, only do not use your freedom
as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another"
(Rom.5:13). If every Christian were perfectly "Spirit-filled" then we would need no
law, but unfortunately sin still struggles within us. We are led by the Spirit, but
imperfectly, because we offer some resistance. So we still need the law in order to
distinguish our own carnal inclinations from the promptings of the Spirit.

These external commandments do not cramp Christian freedom and spontaneity, as

some suppose. They safeguard its exercise. We are sons now, not slaves (Rom.8:15),
and we must still do the Father's will.

 "Christ is the end of the law for all who have faith" (Rom.10:4). Here Paul is referring
to the OT ritual law and ceremonial laws, the liturgical Temple sacrifices, kosher
practices and circumcision. The Council of Jerusalem decreed that Gentile converts to
Christianity do not have to keep the Mosaic law. But they must still keep "the law of
Christ" (1 Cor.9:21), the Decalogue (Rom. 13:8-10) and the natural law (Rom.2:12-6)
which binds all men, Christians, Jews and pagans.

Some Christian groups have overstressed this emancipation "in the spirit" from the
Law. In reading the NT, we need to distinguish carefully when Paul is talking about
the ritual laws of the superseded Jewish observances, and when he is speaking about
the new "law of Christ" or natural law, from which there can be no dispensation.

 Christian morality is not individualistic but communitarian. Baptised into Christ,

nourished with the Eucharist, we become part of the Body of Christ, the Church. We
hear the Gospel through others' preaching, we receive the sacraments from others.
In the eucharistic community we are taught and encouraged by others. God does not
call the Christian to be lonely, but to be part of a community. Here he must love and
serve others, and be loved and served in return. Christian morality is person-centred
and community-based, rather than law and rule-centred.

 The New Life in Christ is Christocentric, an internal "imitatio Christi". Christian life is
the personal following of Jesus. He is the prototype according to whom we we all
created. He Himself is the Kingdom in person, the supreme norm of Christian
morality. He is not just an external teacher, like for instance the Qumran 'Teacher of
Righteousness'. Jesus gives us the capacity, by the gift of the Spirit, to be inwardly
conformed to Him, to "put on Christ". Then we can say, "It is no longer I that live, but
Christ who lives in me" (Gal. 2:20). He is the vine, and we have become the branches.
We eat Him and draw life from Him (Jn.6:57).

He summons us to love and to holiness of life. We are gradually conformed to the pattern of His
death and resurrection (Rom.6:5-11) as we allow the grace of baptism to take effect. We "cast off the works
of darkness and put on the armour of light" (Rom.13;12). We "walk as children of the light." (Eph.5:8). "We
know that our old self was crucified with Him, so that the sinful body might be destroyed and to free us from
the slavery of sin . . So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus."
(Rom.6:6,11). He invites us to share by adoption that very relationship which He has with the Father by right.



At the same time as we are encouraged to "rejoice in the Lord always", we must practise self-denial and
reasonable mortification. "If anyone come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me"
(Lk 9:23). The passions of the fleshly man need to be harnessed: "I chastise my body and bring it under
subjection" (1 Cor.9:17). Attachment to God enables us to be detached from what is only temporal and
transient. Integration into the Christian community, the body of Christ, allows less of our emotional capital
to be invested in material possessions.


Tradition means literally "that which is handed on." It shows us how the Christian community has
faced certain recurrent moral problems down through the ages. It relays to us a vast amount of experience
and spiritual insight, from many countries and social milieu. It teaches us how the Faith has been lived in
practice, and what has been expected of faithful Christians through many centuries. We shall now survey
briefly the history of the Church, noting the contributions to moral theology made by different generations.

3.A. Patristic.

After the apostolic era, we rely upon the writings of the Fathers of the Church (100-700 AD) for
insight into how the Scriptures were understood in the early centuries. Few of the Fathers treat
moral matters in any systematic way. Nevertheless there are valuable indications of the mind of the
early Christian community, and how it clarified some contentious issues.

The earliest sub-apostolic document we have is the Didache ('The Teaching of the Lord to the Gentiles
through the Twelve Apostles') which originated in Syria c.100 A.D. It begins: "There are two Ways: a
Way of Life and a Way of Death, and the difference between these two ways is great". There follows
a baptismal instruction on the two great commandments of love of God and love of neighbour. Here
is a flavour of the teaching we find:

“Commit no murder, adultery, sodomy, fornication or theft. Practise no magic, sorcery, abortion or
infanticide. See that you do not covet anything your neighbour possesses, and never be guilty of
perjury, false witness, slander or malice. Do not equivocate in thought or speech, for a double
tongue is a deadly snare ... You are to cherish no feelings of hatred for anyone; some you are to
reprove, some to pray for, and some again to love more than your own life.

Keep away from every bad man, my son, and from all his kind. Never give way to anger, for anger
leads to homicide. Likewise refrain from fanaticism, quarrelling and hot-temperedness, for these too
can breed homicide.

Beware of lust, my son, for lust leads to fornication. Likewise refrain from unclean talk and the roving
eye, for these too can breed adultery. Do not always be looking for omens, my son, for this leads to
idolatry. Likewise have nothing to do with witchcraft, astrology or magic; do not consent even to be
a witness of such practices, for they too can all breed idolatry...

You are not to withhold your hand from your son or daughter, but to bring them up in the fear of
God from their childhood ... In church, make confession of your faults, and do not come to our
prayers with a bad conscience.”



In the early Christian centuries, as now, it was not easy to maintain a Christian lifestyle in a perverted
pagan world. Bishops and scholars were asked for guidance on such questions as the attitude
Christians should hold towards pagan worship. For example, could Christian craftsmen have any part
in fashioning idols for pagan use? How should they behave towards the theatre, the fashions, military
service in the pagan army? Among others, Tertullian, St. Clement of Alexandria and St. Cyprian of
Carthage discussed such matters in their works, as well as connected liturgical problems like the
reconciliation of public penitents.

The first systematic work is the De Officiis by St. Ambrose (d.397), a type of moral directory written
for his priests in the diocese of Milan.

The greatest single influence was St. Augustine (d.430) who wrote on many pastoral and moral
problems in his works The Good of Marriage, Holy Virginity, Continence, Against Lying, Patience,
Summary on Faith, Hope and Charity. He laid the foundations of the Just War theory, and has some
topical remarks on the use of contraceptive potions.

The mantle of the prophetic tradition concerning poverty, possessions and the right use of wealth
was taken up by St. Basil and St. John Chrysostom.

3.B. Later History of Moral Theology:

Tradition includes the Church Fathers (dealt with above). After the Patristic era, one source for the
study of moral theology is the libri poenitentiales, the penitential books of the Celtic monks (C6-9)
who developed the practice of private Confession. They enumerated sins and tariff-penances. This
system spread to the Continent and was gradually standardised.

The great flowering of theology in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries brought the theological
Summas, complete syntheses of the Christian faith. Moral theology was not distinguished as a
separate discipline, but moral questions are well treated in the writings of Peter Lombard (d.1164),
St. Albert the Great, and of course, St. Thomas Aquinas. St. Thomas was the first person to
systematise the whole of ethics (Summa Theologiae I-II), but his work was not accepted as the
standard textbook on the subject until well into the sixteenth century. Early collections of Canon Law
decretals also help to give us insights into the life of the Church through the ages.

During the Middle Ages many of the moral questions about wealth, usury and private property were
the subject of fierce debate between the Franciscans and other religious orders. It is ironic to note
that the same arguments have now passed into the secular sphere, and are rehearsed by the
economists and politicians of left and right.

Moral theology blossomed in sixteenth century Spain, especially with the Dominicans at Salamanca:
de Vittoria (on international law) and Melchior Cano. Their abiding fruit is in the realm of the study of
justice and the rights of nations. Other leading moralists of the time were the Jesuits, Suarez
(d.1617), Molina and Sanchez (on marriage).

Azor's Institutiones morales, published in 1600-11, opened the age of the manuals for the pastoral
clergy. These contained all the canon laws, liturgical precepts and information necessary for pastoral
decisions, especially the identification of mortal sins in the confessional, since Trent (1542-65) had



declared they must be confessed in number and species. Henceforth, Catholic moral theology
invested immense efforts in categorising what exactly was and what was not mortal sin.

This era tended towards voluntarism, i.e. X, Y and Z are wrong simply because God or His Church says
so. It did not explain that God had forbidden X, Y and Z because they destroy human nature, human
relationships and one’s love for God. For this reason they contradict God's will. It also inclined to
legalism – the detailed regulation of external behaviour. Matters of personal vocation, the call of
grace, growth in holiness and Christian perfection, were hived off to ascetical and mystical theology.
The two disciplines were compartmentalised. Moral theology also grew distant from its roots in
Scripture and dogma. The manuals failed to integrate much philosophy into their arguments. Despite
these limitations, they can still be a rich source of wisdom and experience, and should not be
dismissed out of hand.

The patron saint of moral theology, St. Alphonsus Liguori, founder of the Redemptorists, steered a
moderate course in moral counsel between the excessive strictness of the Jansenists, and the
aberrant laxity of others. His Theologia Moralis came out in 1748 and ran to 70 editions.

Until Vatican II, Catholic moral theology was based upon the 'manualists'. They explained moral
doctrine following either the Decalogue or the cardinal virtues (prudence, fortitude, justice,
temperance) primarily with a view to the Sacrament of Penance and pastoral administration. Often
they limited themselves to showing what must be avoided as sinful and unlawful, and especially into
distinguishing venial and mortal sin. They presented the Christian life in terms of obligation and law,
and said little about spiritual ideals and the vision of humanity redeemed in Christ.

3.C. Spirituality

Spirituality is part of the life of the Church. There is a spiritual wisdom and knowledge of the ways of
the Holy Spirit in prayer, which can be “handed on” (traditum) – from generation to generation.

There is considerable overlap between spirituality and moral theology. Scripture may be the soul of
moral theology, but spirituality is its heart. A saint has few moral problems. A saint is so inspired by
God's grace and has so surrendered to Him, that evil has little attraction. He can safely follow St.
Augustine's dictum: 'Love and do what you will.' The truly holy person enjoys ‘connaturality’ with
God, and so has a sure instinct for His will. Holy people with very little education can, by grace, have
the sharpest moral and spiritual insights, to equal the best of school theologians.

On the other hand, a person who has not developed a living relationship with the heavenly Father,
through Christ, in the Holy Spirit, will find it hard to accept all the principles and teachings of Catholic
moral theology. The closer we are to Jesus, the more sense it will all make to us. A man may be a very
clever theologian, but if he does not pray much, if he does not live in a strong faith environment, it is
little surprise if he dissents from Catholic moral teaching. The pride which will not submit to apostolic
authority has always been the weak point of Christian intellectuals.

It is God's grace alone which enables us to keep the commandments, and assures us of forgiveness
when we try but fail. In the words of the Pentecost Sequence to the Holy Spirit: 'If thou take thy
grace away, nothing good in man will stay, all his good is turned to ill.' Whatever sin there is in our
own lives, we must not attempt to alter our theology to accommodate it. We must stick to the



uncomfortable truth, even when it judges us and finds us lacking. Too many people in our time
search for a "theology" to suit their own lifestyle, rather than seeking out objective truth.

Moral theology provides an external framework which distinguishes good from evil, and provides
general rules and principles of Christian behaviour. However, it does not deal exhaustively with the
ways of the Holy Spirit in the human heart, nor of personal guidance by grace. It works on a general
and universal level to provide basic guidance for everyone.

Spirituality in contrast can deal with God's particular call to one person or community. Moral
theology cannot tell a particular young woman whether she should be a nurse, a mother or a nun.
That is a matter for individual spiritual discernment. But it can and does give her moral guidance
applicable to the treatment of patients, how to be a mother, and life in community.

The Magisterlum of the Pope and Bishops in communion with him (CCC 2030-40)

It is the responsibility of the Magisterium to teach the faithful sound doctrine, and to warn them
away from harmful and immoral practices, thus directing them towards the Christ-like standards of
the Gospel. Jesus told his Apostles “The Spirit will lead you into all truth”, and that the gates of the
underworld would not prevail against the Church founded on Peter. As Catholics, we see these
promises of the Lord fulfilled in the infallibility of the Church. We believe Christ’s Church will not
plunge seriously into error in the teaching of the Gospel and the “deposit of faith”. She is a reliable
herald of God’s truth to all generations, though her individual members may be far from perfect.
(Please see Course 4)

4.A. Dogma

The solemn creeds and definitions of the Faith explain what God has done in redeeming us. They
crystallise the central truths of Scripture and Tradition. They furnish the framework of Christian
anthropology. The answer to the question, 'What is man?' is demonstrated by the story of the
Creation, the Fall, the Incarnation and the Redemption. Christ reveals man to himself.

In this human life on earth we are asked to 'put on Christ' and follow in the way of the Cross to glory.
By the power of the Holy Spirit we are enabled to live the new life of charity, and to escape from
slavery to the sinful desires of the flesh, our natural and baser instincts. Dogma provides the
landscape within which moral theology is situated. It shows us the fundamental orientation of the
Christian life.

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 1 is the Creed, Section 2 is on the Sacraments. Only
when we know what God has done for us, and experience the new life of grace available to us
through the Sacraments, are we ready for Section 3 on "Life in Christ".

4.B. Specific Interventions on questions of Morality

The Magisterium has made certain decisive interventions in Catholic moral theology. Among its most
prominent documents are: the Catechism of the Council of Trent which organises its treatment of
morality around the Ten Commandments; the condemnation by Pope Innocent Xl in 1679 of 69
propositions of the laxist moral school; various statements in the nineteenth and early twentieth



centuries on abortion (craniotomy), sterilisation, divorce, freemasonry, duelling, cremation,

hypnotism, usury and onanism.

4.C. Papal Encyclicals

Encyclical letters have become prominent as a source of authoritative moral teaching in the last 100
years. Since Rerum Novarum (On the rights of workers, 1891) a series of social encyclicals has
provided a synthesis of Catholic wisdom on such questions as labour and capital, communism,
socialism and fascism, the rights and duties of man, intra- and international relations.

In the field of family and sexual ethics, Casti Connubii (1930) upheld traditional Christian morality at a
time when the Church of England (Lambeth, 1929) had just changed its mind and allowed
contraception within marriage – the first time in nineteen centuries any denomination had broken
the universal Christian consensus condemning artificial contraception. Humanae Vitae (1968) and
Familiaris Consortio (1981) have upheld the traditional values and constant teaching in the face of
Western public opinion.

The publication of Donum Vitae (1987) on bioethics, Veritatis Splendor (1993) on fundamental moral
theology, and Evangelium Vitae (1995) on life issues, marks a defining moment in the history of moral
theology: Peter's successor has intervened to settle the disputes of the last thirty years.

4.D. Vatican II (1962-1965)

The Council Fathers asked for a renewal of moral theology. Theology in general should be taught
'under the light of faith and under the guidance of the Church's teaching authority'.

“Special care should be given to the teaching of moral theology. Its scientific presentation should
draw more fully on the teaching of Holy Scripture and should throw light upon the exalted vocation
of the faithful in Christ, and their obligation to bring forth fruit in charity for the life of the world.”
(Optatam Totius 16)

Christian life is to be both 'other-worldly' and 'this-worldly' at the same time. The moral theology
which Vatican II calls for must show how such a life can be lived. Gaudium et Spes in particular speaks
about the relationship of the Church and the world, marriage and the family, work and culture.

Unfortunately, since Vatican II and especially Humanae Vitae (1968), it is no exaggeration to say that
moral theology has been a battlefield. There has been fierce debate over the specificity of Christian
morality, and over which elements of the Catholic teaching are unchangeable, and which are time-
conditioned. The appearance of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992), a veritable compendium
of doctrine, sets a clear reference point for all moral catechesis in the Church. Meanwhile Pope John
Paul II in his recent encyclicals has attempted to set the record straight on various disputed

What then is the role of Catholic moral theology, given all this activity of the Magisterium?

It is to explain the teachings of the Magisterium in a reasonable and acceptable manner, showing
how they are coherent with Scripture and Christian Tradition. It should be able to show how such teachings
have been arrived at, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, from the sources of Revelation.



 It should be able to show the errors in opposing points of view: to demonstrate how the following of
God's law leads to happiness and peace, while moral error leads to disintegration of the person and
of society.

 It has to apply the basic principles to new challenges e.g. organ transplants, designer babies,
surrogate motherhood, manipulation of the human genome, joint-stock banking and pension funds.

 The community of Catholic scholars and the lived experience of the faithful both help to inform the
Magisterium, at diocesan, national and international levels, about new developments and challenges,
and to formulate a well-informed response.

 It engages in ecumenical dialogue with other Christian communities. It also holds conversation with
specialists in various natural and human sciences, and with philosophers of non-Christian traditions.

Other ancillary disciplines

Moral decisions come into every realm of human endeavour, and so moral theology must draw on
many fields of human knowledge: philosophy, psychology, medicine, art, science, economics, sociology,
politics, history, and law. As Terence, the Latin poet (d.159 BC), wrote "Homo sum; humani nil a me alienum
puto'" - I am a man, I count nothing human foreign from me.

The task of building a civilization of love involves impregnating economic, political and scientific life
with the spirit of Christ. Gospel values are to season and salt the whole of society. Moral theology can help
businessmen, factory workers, magistrates and politicians to see the implications of the Faith in their
workplace. There is no area from which theological reflection can justly be excluded (see Gaudium et Spes,
42-43, 63-76).

Although psychology, medicine and so on, provide much data for moral deliberation, it is important
to realise that they are not themselves the source of moral values. It is from Christ Himself that the values
and laws come, via Revelation and the Church. They are tied in to the Christian vision of life and of man's
supernatural destiny.

A psychology or medical textbook may well state that, for example, masturbation or homosexuality
is harmless, or that euthanasia is a valid option to cut short the sufferings of the terminally ill. When the
underlying philosophy is not spelt out, there is an illicit reasoning from "what is" to "what ought to be" of
the type pointed out by David Hume. The author's values may be derived from the current assumptions of
secular humanism, or from one particular thinker.

We must be analytical and critical. We should always be asking ourselves, what picture of man and
what ideal of human happiness does this author propose? Is his/her underlying philosophy broadly in line
with Gospel values, or is it implicitly anti-Christian? What does he/she propose as man's true good? Can I
accept this?

This anthropological question is central to moral theology. What is man? What is his destiny? The
entire moral debate hinges upon our answer to these questions. As Catholic Christians we are convinced that
God Himself has revealed the meaning of human life to us in Christ Jesus.




“The dignity of the human person is rooted in his or her creation in the image and likeness of God.
Endowed with a spiritual and immortal soul, intelligence and free will, the human person is ordered to God
and called in soul and in body to eternal beatitude.” CCC 1699-1715


In Genesis 1:26 in the Old Testament, after ordering the chaos and bringing forth the
vegetation, fish, birds and animals, God resolves to create a being different from all of these:

"Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish
of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth . . So God created
man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And
God blessed them and said: Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have
dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves
upon the face of the earth . . "

This text gives us some fundamental orientations for moral theology. Man is different from
the animals. He is given stewardship of the earth. He is created in two modalities, two sexes, male
and female: both are in God's image, and they are complementary to one another.

Man's likeness to God is rooted in his spiritual nature. Unlike the animals, he is an immortal
spirit capable of knowing and loving his Creator.

St Augustine comments that man is like unto God through his faculties of memory, will and
understanding. By memory he transcends time, like the Father; by understanding he discerns the
creative wisdom of the divine Word; by will he loves, which is his similarity to the Holy Spirit.
However, it would be a serious mistake to imagine that God is interested only in man's spiritual
aspect, and that the body is but a clay prison for the soul (Platonism).

The human being is both body and soul: he/she exists in these two dimensions, outwardly
material and inwardly spiritual. He is incomplete without either one. The being of man is a mystery,
but he is manifest in these two dimensions: the spiritual, which he shares with God and the angels;
and the physical, which he shares with the animals.

St Paul prefers to speak of man under three aspects:

 σωμα (soma - body),

 ψυχη (psyche - mind), and
 πνευμα (pneuma, spirit).

Soma is the usual word for the physical aspect, but there is another word σαρξ (sarx - flesh),
for worldly, unregenerate human nature, inclined as it is to oppose God. The psyche is man's living
self, translating the Hebrew nefesh: it is the life or mind which departs at bodily death. Pneuma is not
the human soul but the indwelling divine spirit, the breath of God, which gives man eternal life.



Human beings enjoy a twofold dignity:

1. Firstly, we have an intrinsic dignity as human beings, made in the image and likeness of God. Alone of
all creation, and different from the animal kingdom, we have the capacity to know God and to share
the immortal divine life. This dignity is made even more evident by the fact of the Incarnation. God
could not become incarnate in a cow or an ape, because they are not capable of being inwardly
divinized. But man is, and when Christ rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, it was our
human nature that he took into the Godhead, so to speak. At the resurrection of the body on the
Last Day, our human flesh will somehow be reconstituted, glorified, to share with our souls in

In this sense, Christianity is a very materialistic, body-oriented religion, compared to the eastern
religions where the physical world is but illusion. The Incarnation and bodily Resurrection of the
Word brings home to us the fact that God plans to redeem our bodies as well as our souls.

"Every human being is therefore intrinsically valuable, surpassing in dignity the entire material
universe, a being to be revered and respected from the very beginning of its existence." (W.E.May,
p.23) It follows that a human being cannot therefore be treated as an object of use, or merely as a
means to an end. The only adequate response to the immense value of each human being, is that of

2. Secondly, there is a dignity which man can acquire as he grows: the dignity of intelligent and free
persons who freely choose to shape their lives and actions in accord with the truth. Vatican II teaches
that: "The highest norm of human life is divine law - eternal objective and universal - whereby God
orders, directs and governs the entire universe, and all the ways of the human community according
to a plan conceived in wisdom and love." (DH 3) As man lives according to the divine truth, he grows
in stature and dignity.

The Anthropological Question: alternative ethical systems:

What is man's true good? Ultimately a person's moral system rests upon their vision of human life:
what is it for? Why are we all here? What can we hope for? What ought I to do? The clash of moralities we see
so often in the public arena today reflects a clash of world-views.

Is life a one-way trip into eternity, to salvation or damnation? Or is it: "Eat, drink, and be merry, for
tomorrow we die." Is man's purpose found in building a socialist Utopia, or in defending Mother Earth and
the animal kingdom from the ravages of industrial society? Is it a futile game played by blind cosmic forces of
randomness? Or is meaning found in having as rich and fulfilling a life, with as many varied and pleasurable
experiences as possible? Are we fulfilling the irresistible law of karma, or creating a new superhuman species
by genetic engineering and cloning?

It is a truism today to say that not everybody accepts the Christian explanation of human life.
Therefore we need to look at some current alternatives.
We all have a philosophy, a basic outlook on life, whether we are aware of it or not. The problem about "just
following current opinion", or "what I was brought up with", or "how reasonable people think" is that one's
philosophy is unexamined: a set of values and principles which you haven't properly analysed and checked.
Someone else has set the agenda, and you are following it blindly.



90% of our fellow countrymen/women would not know what eudaemonism, utilitarianism,
emotivism, social Darwinism or self-actualization means. Millions of them read informations from the
internet. Yet every one of them has been profoundly affected by these streams of thought, probably
without being aware of it. So it is important to unmask the origins of these moral outlooks which rival
Christianity. We may also find some unexpected points of agreement.

§1. Eudaemonism and Utilitarianism

Eudaemonia in Greek means happiness or prosperity. Eudaemonism describes that widespread belief
that pleasure and happiness in this world is the only good; pain and sorrow the real evil. Whatever
therefore helps to achieve temporal well-being and success is morally right. The aim is to maximise
personal gratification and happiness, through pleasure, comfort and good material living standards.

There are several types of eudaemonism: hedonism seeks happiness in pleasure alone; others look
for it in wealth, fame or social standing.

Private eudaemonism is concerned only with the happiness of the individual: basically it is egoistic.
Social eudaemonism aims at the welfare and happiness of a social group, perhaps the ruling party or
the ethnic majority, or the entire nation as opposed to its neighbours.

John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham advocated the greatest happiness of the greatest number, a
philosophy known as Utilitarianism. Every action is judged in relation to this end. Society wants more
wealth, more choice, more individual freedom, less control and censorship. The government
intervenes to resolve conflicts of interest and achieve a reasonable balance. There are no moral
absolutes - only what reasonable people can agree on is "correct". However, it can leave minorities
stripped of human rights and at the mercy of a "democratic" majority e.g. Jews in Nazi Germany,
unborn children in Britain.

Marxist-Leninism is a form of social eudaemonism. Whatever serves the victory and sovereignty of
the Party, as representative of the proletariat, is good. Whoever opposes this e.g. critical dissidents
and religious believers, is bad and needs to be cured in psychiatric hospitals or re-education labour-
camps. Remember that this is still the system of the world's most populous nation.

§2. Ethics of self-perfection, self-actualization or self-realization

The ultimate purpose of human life is to realize one's true self and authentic personality, in either a
naturalistic or a religious sense. This verges on individualism, tending to devalue the world and
others, while emphasizing one's own development. Man's purpose is to grow, even exuberantly and
rankly, realizing as many potentialities as possible, having as many wonderful experiences as

While there is some truth in this philosophy - that we should cultivate our talents - it is ultimately self-
centred. Our gifts are given so that we may serve God and our neighbour, not purely for our self-
satisfaction. Even prayer and worship can come to be viewed selfishly, in terms of the benefit they
bring to the pray-er. He attempts to turn God into a means to the end of his own spiritual good



Many recent paperback psychology books on self-affirmation and self-assertiveness belong to this
stable. The world and other people serve only as instruments en route to one's own self-realization.
In these terms, Jesus of Nazareth going to the Cross of Calvary in the prime of life is nonsense.

The humanistic version of this self-perfection is even more limited, exalting physical beauty and
intellectual ability: the worship of the body and the pride of academe. It disqualifies the physically or
mentally disabled or sick from any satisfaction. It can find no meaning in ageing and sickness and

§3. Ethics for its own sake, with an emphasis on moral duty

Kant (d.1804) founded all moral obligation upon the principle: "So act that the maxim of your will
could always hold at the same time as a principle establishing universal law." A man should act as he
would wish all men to act. This Kant named the "categorical imperative."

He insisted that this principle should be obeyed purely for its own sake, out of a sense of duty. He
objected to any thought of doing right or wrong in order to gain happiness or avoid punishment.
That would be a mercenary ethic. Nor did he wish to base morality upon the divine will: if God
imposed obligations upon man, He was turning him into a slave. Such a heteronomous morality was
unworthy of man, believed Kant. Authentic morality must be autonomous, resulting from man's own
insight, verified and approved by reason.

Kant's system has the advantage that it gives moral duty an absolute priority over profit and
pleasure. However it fails in excluding God as ultimate Lawgiver, and in basing morality upon the
individual's private view and authority. This leads to subjectivism. A man who likes nudism, or
supports the abolition of church schools or suppression of religion, will readily agree that these
viewpoints should become universal law. For example, Eichmann at his trial insisted that he had
always acted according to Kant's imperative. He considered the extermination of the Jewish people
to be a moral duty, a law to be universally obeyed.

In his old age Kant changed his mind, and became more willing to grant an immediate and real role
to God as moral legislator. His previous error had been to confuse dependence on God with slavery
to Him. God's commandments are there to promote man's greatest good, not to reduce him to
slavery. Duty does not motivate all people, and it is unwise to rule out the desire for happiness as a
valid incentive to do good. To deny the desire for happiness is to deny the way God has created us.

§4. Relativism, subjectivism, emotivism

Our modern society is permeated with moral agnosticism. Can we really know the purpose of life?
Can anybody really give a definite answer to the question, what is good for man? There are so many
rival belief systems, religions and philosophies. Who is to say which is true? Who would be so rash
and so arrogant as to claim the title to absolute truth?

What you feel is right for you, is OK for you. What I feel is good for me, that is my "truth." Morality is
largely a matter of taste, upbringing, culture - rather like one's choice of wallpaper or music. The
belief that morality is always relative, dependent upon a particular person or culture, and never
absolutely applicable to all mankind, is called relativism.



Relativism denies the existence of a universal human nature and universal moral norms, binding on
all persons at all times. Even where a particular moral stance is considered valid in the majority of
cases, "conscience" or feelings may permit exceptions to the "norm".

Veritatis Splendor diagnoses a root cause of our contemporary moral crisis in precisely these ideas:
"Man . . . giving himself over to relativism and scepticism . . . goes off in search of an illusory
freedom apart from truth itself." (VS 1) This crisis is found not only within pagan society, but within
the Church itself, even "in Seminaries and Faculties of Theology" (VS 4) viz:

"an overall and systematic calling into question traditional moral doctrine, on the basis of certain
anthropological and ethical presuppositions . . . the more or less obvious influence of currents of
thought which end by detaching human freedom from its essential and constitutive relationship to
truth. Thus the traditional doctrine regarding the natural law, and the universality and the permanent
validity of its precepts, is rejected. . . "

An accompanying current of thought is emotivism. MacIntyre defines this as follows: "Emotivism is

the doctrine that all evaluative judgements and more specifically all moral judgements are nothing
but expressions of preference, expressions of attitude or feeling, insofar as they are moral or
evaluative in character." Similarly, subjectivism holds that moral judgements are equivalent to
statements about the psychological states or attitudes of those who utter them.

Therefore if I say that fox hunting, paedophilia or paedocide (abortion) are wrong, emotivism tells
me that I am merely articulating my negative feelings about these activities, nothing more.
Subjectivism would say that the "meaning" of my statement is nothing to do with objective truth:
rather it reveals that I have a psychological problem about fox hunting. In the zany universe of the
subjectivists, moral statements are considered to say something about the speaker, not about
reality. In my opinion the fact that some 'subjectivists' cling to such a doctrine tells us something
about the subjectivists, but nothing at all about moral reality!

Politicians are wont to say that abortion is a personal, very emotional matter - as if this removed it
from the realm of objective moral discourse. The U.S. Supreme Court's invention of the doctrine of
privacy in the Roe vs. Wade case (1973) reinforces this tendency. Sexual and family living
arrangements have been largely redefined as a private matter of personal preference: consequently
neither State nor Church has any right to interfere or to pass judgement on anyone's behaviour, and
there are no binding moral codes because everybody has different sexual tastes and orientation. We
are well on the way to libertarianism, where everybody is free to do what they want, with little heed
for the consequences. Whether or not organised society can survive this wholesale surrender to
individual impulse is a different matter.

§5. Social Darwinism:

The human being is a result of natural selection and evolutionary genetic mutation. Man has
progressed because of the survival of the fittest. Therefore to support the weak and less able is to
threaten the evolutionary process. Such a philosophy obviously favours the physically fit, beautiful,
intelligent and successful. It fosters eugenic ideas. It easily leads to racism - less favoured races who
have not evolved so successfully as others (e.g. Aryans), should be discouraged from breeding.



Social misfits, the old, sick and handicapped are reduced to second-class citizens. They are hardly
worth spending resources on, and ripe for the euthanasiast's syringe. These ideas go back before
Darwin to Malthus, who advocated leaving the poor and sick to perish. Feed and cure them, and they
will only multiply once more to exceed the food supply. Nietzsche agreed that the weak and poor
should be left to die, so that the strong will survive and conquer. The future belongs to the
Ubermensch. He castigated Christianity as socially harmful, because it advocates care for the poor
and weak.

The Third Reich spectacularly put these principles into effect as regards Jews, Slavs, gypsies, the
mentally handicapped and terminally ill. Whatever philosophy enables the strongest to survive and
reproduce is biologically the most favourable. Whatever morals favours the emergence of the
master-race is correct.

Social Darwinism combines elements of utilitarianism and self-realization philosophies. It is influential

today through the population control lobby of the United Nations and in the rich western countries:
not in terms of open Nazism, but in contraception, sterilising and aborting the poor, so that they do
not increase to swamp the West, or threaten its supplies of natural resources and economic
hegemony. The Third World can relate to the West, as the Israelites to the Egyptians in Ex.1: Pharaoh
introduces population control measures, ordering that every Hebrew baby boy shall be drowned in
the Nile.

It is necessary to insist that evolution is a theory, not a fact, and that the many missing links in the
evolutionary tree are unexplained. We simply do not have the hard evidence proving how one
species evolves into another. Dawkins invokes "the selfish gene". To my mind this constitutes the
error of anthropomorphism: Dawkins attributes human characteristics to a chemical, a string of DNA.

One basic objection to all atheist truth-claims is this: if the human brain is simply the result of random
evolution, and thoughts are but molecular motions and chemical reactions in the brain, how do they
have any intrinsic truth or meaning? Whatever you say, you say because you are genetically pre-
programmed to think that way, or as a result of random molecular collisions . . .


Freedom exists on various levels. In physical terms it means freedom from coercion and constraint,
such as the wild animals enjoy, "Born free." In social terms it means the absence of social demands
and restrictions, thus the freedom to do as one pleases. Inevitably life in family or community
demands some sacrifice of this freedom in order to accommodate the needs of others.

Personal freedom concerns the inner man: his ability to shape his own life, free from psychological
determinisms and limiting phobias. It is a freedom to love the good, to be at peace, to shape one's
own life in accordance with truth.

Since the days of the French Revolution (1789), "Liberté, égalité, fraternité" has been the cry of our
age. The cry was for freedom from the oppression and inequality of the Ancien Régime, but the
result was terrible bloodshed, dictatorship and the Terror.



The cry of peoples for political freedom, for independence and self-determination, has been one of
the hallmarks of our age: the Czechs from Habsburg Vienna, Indians from London, the South African
blacks from apartheid, Balts from Moscow, Kosovans from Belgrade, East Timorese from Indonesia.
But what to do once freedom has been achieved? How to organise a State that is just and
benevolent? That is often more difficult than the independence struggle. The use and preservation of
freedom may prove more problematic than obtaining it.

The right to religious and personal freedom was recognised in the Vatican II document Dignitatis
Humanae, and in such texts as the U.N. Declaration on Human Rights (1948). However to every right
there is a corresponding duty. The right to freedom entails the duty to use our freedom responsibly,
the duty to seek the truth, and the duty to ensure the proper freedom of others.

Freedom is a gift, but it is also a task. We need "freedom from our own inauthentic selves: inner
liberation from ignorance, fears, anxieties, evil inclinations, bad habits, prejudices, psychic
compulsions, obsessions and the like. Then we can think about freedom from undue pressures from
others: like useless regulations, bad example, threats, unjust social structures and so on." (Lobo,
p.318). Inner freedom is the most basic, but it usually requires some degree of external freedom in
order to realise it.

Freedom from is not an end in itself. It leads on to freedom for: freedom for the good, the true and
the beautiful, for the love of God and the service of others. Freedom must be in the truth and for the
truth, not freedom from the truth.

"You will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free" said Jesus. "If the Son shall make you free,
you shall be free indeed." Jesus is the example of the supremely free man, untouched by external
pressures. He is able to break down all the communication barriers. He is not afraid to associate with
the unclean, to touch the lepers, to command the forces of nature, to take authority over the devils.
He does not mince his words to the mighty of the land, nor does he dilute truth to curry favour with
his listeners. He is deeply compassionate to sinners, yet his compassion is not soft but always
challenges us to reform.

Christian freedom is first and foremost the liberation from sin and evil: the freedom which
reconciliation with God brings, to live in grace and share God's life. This brings in its train the
liberation from poverty, oppression and disease, from many physical and social evils, as human
beings in new-found solidarity work to construct the Kingdom of God.

The freedom to sin is an illusory freedom, because it diminishes our freedom for the future. The man
who mutilates himself by severing his own fingers, deprives himself of many abilities in the future: he
will never be able to hold certain tools, grasp things, play many musical instruments etc. What sane
man would do such a thing? Yet similarly, whoever mutilates his own personality by miserliness, for
example, robs himself of much friendship and joy - the joy of generously helping others in need and
experiencing their gratitude, the sense of having completed worthwhile acts of charity in the world,
the satisfaction of the divine blessing.

The choice of evil itself limits our future freedom. Human relationships become constrained, we lose
our inner peace. Think of the liar, who has told so many different versions of events to different
people that he is constantly trying to worm out of tricky situations or the adulterer, anxious lest
word of his misdeeds gets back to his wife, should some past mistress choose to take her revenge.



The criminal can never fully trust his underworld collaborators, because they may kill him for the
booty, or turn informer to the police. In each case, the wrongdoer’s freedom of operation is severely
limited. And can they sleep easily at night?

Freedom of Indifference and Freedom for Excellence.

Pinckaers distinguishes between freedom of indifference and freedom for excellence. To illustrate
this distinction, consider my piano. I am alone with the piano. I am free to hit any note, or any
combination of notes, as hard or as softly as I want. I am free to use my fists or my feet on the
keyboard. Or even a sledgehammer. I have a brute freedom to do whatever I wish with my own
piano, even to throw it out of an upstairs window and kill the postman. This is called freedom of
indifference, the naked human will to self-affirmation.

Freedom for excellence is something different. At the age of 10 I start learning the piano. I go for
lessons. I learn to read music. Day by day I practice at the keyboard: scales, arpeggios, simpler pieces,
more advanced compositions. After years of hard work and discipline I can execute fairly complex
sonatas. I can play Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, Scott Joplin and "Jerusalem." My ability on the
keyboard opens up other avenues: I accompany an uncle who plays the violin, a friend who plays
clarinet. I adapt to the organ in the local parish, and can easily use a keyboard. My singing improves
and I learn to improvise and to write some music of my own.

I now have now acquired, by dint of training and discipline, a degree of freedom quite different from
that original brute freedom of indifference. A new world has opened up before me. Moreover, if,
twenty years ago, I had used that freedom by taking a sledgehammer to the piano, I would never
have learnt to play it. Because I would no longer have had a piano. And now I would hate to see a
sledgehammer used on any playable piano, because to do so is to deprive others of the chance to
learn the instrument as I have done.

There are the same possibilities in the use of the human voice. I can scream and shout, make all kinds
of senseless noises, and rant gibberish. Or, by dint of education and hard work, following the rules of
grammar and vocabulary, I can learn French and German and Spanish. it takes a long time and needs
much practice. But it wins me a new freedom, the freedom to communicate with an extra 1,000
million people on the earth, the freedom to "get inside" the culture and life of thirty or forty foreign

Pinckaers is speaking about moral development and growth in the virtues, rather than about the
development of musical and linguistic potential. He defines the freedom for excellence as the power
to act freely with excellence and perfection (think of that Beethoven Piano Sonata). It is rooted in
the natural inclinations to the good and the true, (here the beauty of music and the joy of being able
to recreate it). It is bestowed in embryo at the beginning of moral life (like some degree of musical
talent); it must be developed through education and exercised, with discipline, through successive
stages (ever done the Royal School of Music Grade Exams?)

It integrates actions in view of an end, which unites them interiorly and ensures continuity (uniting
notes into a finished sonata). Virtue is a dynamic quality essential to this freedom (the virtues of
musical aesthetics - sensitivity, rhythm, accuracy). Law is a necessary external aid to the
development of freedom (i.e. the musical text with its key signatures, tempo and notes). This



freedom is open to allowing all human powers to contribute to the action, and to collaborating with
others for the common good and growth of society (playing duets, joining a music society, playing
for the church choir). This freedom is founded in the desire for happiness, oriented to quality and

The freedom to light up a joint of marijuana - or not - is an example of the freedom of indifference. It
is simply the freedom to choose between contraries: to smoke or not to smoke, that is the question.
It is acquired by having the money and buying the drug. Each act of smoking or not smoking is
independent and isolated from other acts, performed at the instant of decision. It is entire from the
first moment. It has no need of virtue. Law appears as an external restraint and a limitation of
freedom, especially if the constabulary knock at the door.

Freedom here is an act of naked self-assertion: I want to do this so I will, I don't want to, so I won't.
It is the freedom of choice. Freedom conceived in these terms has no intrinsic relationship to my final
end, little real purpose, except the pleasure of the momentary experience. It can be exercised
contrary to my own good in the long-term. It can be a freedom to do self-destructive things: to cut
off my fingers or damage my own fertility system, for instance. Freedom surely has a much deeper
meaning than just "to be free to choose right or wrong."

Freedom and Truth:

Christian ethics, lived in obedience to God's will, serves man's hope of eternal union with God and
the Divine Glory. It is a theonomous or God-centred ethics. It differs sharply from those moral
systems which envisage man's purpose only in this world. Many modern writers demand an
autonomous ethic, where man creates his own values and rules. They regard any theological ethics
as heteronomous, imposed as if by force from above, alien to and destructive of man's dignity and

In Veritatis Splendor, Pope John Paul II is at pains to underline the bond between freedom and truth.
The pronounced tendency in our day is "to exalt freedom to such an extent that it becomes an
absolute, which would then be the source of values." (VS 32) The individual conscience takes on the
role of a supreme and infallible tribunal, arrogating to itself the right to declare what is good or evil.
"The inescapable claims of truth disappear, yielding their place to a criterion of sincerity, authenticity
and 'being at peace with oneself.'"

In this manner the fundamental dependence of freedom upon truth disintegrates. In order then to
remedy this situation, even if only in our own minds, we need to be absolutely clear about the nature
of true human freedom, and wary of its ersatz imitations.

"Genuine freedom is an outstanding manifestation of the divine image in man. For God willed to
leave man 'in the power of his own counsel' (Sir. 15:14), so that he would seek his creator of his own
accord and would freely arrive at full and blessed perfection by cleaving to God." (VS 34 citing GS 17)

The truth which enhances freedom is found in the moral law. Genuine freedom is not in conflict with
the wisdom incarnated in the divine law, but is protected by it. Modern ethical theories lay great
emphasis upon human autonomy, conceived of as free to create its own values (VS 35) . This easily
slips into the absolute sovereignty to determine for oneself what is good or evil, without any



reference to the Creator's law. Such writers posit an unfettered autonomy of human reason, and
deny that there is anything universally binding and permanent in the moral content of Revelation.

VS answers this by reference to the natural law, the law of man's created nature, both personal and

It is our task as believers to demonstrate how Christian ethics, although divine in origin, and precisely
because it is divine in origin, answers to the deepest instincts and needs of the human heart. Because
man is created by a loving and wise God in His own image and likeness, we do best to "follow the
manufacturer's instructions." Then we shall achieve that purpose for which we were created.

Veritatis Splendor 41 describes Christian Ethics as participated theonomy. Man's free obedience to
God's law means that human reason and will are participating in God's wisdom and providence.
Man is called to share in God's dominion over the created world.




Decalogue means "ten words," and in Hebrew too it is precisely this, 'eseret ha-debarim (CCC 2056).
The word (dabar) of Yahweh is ever creative. It achieves what it is sent out to do. It is full of wisdom and
truth. It is powerful and can change men's hearts and minds.


'I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You
shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of
anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath; you shall not bow down to them or serve
them.' (Ex. 20:2-5)

The First Commandment instructs us to love God above all created persons and things, and with all
dimensions of our being. Of course love cannot be commanded. It is an invitation. This is a merciful
ordinance, enjoined upon us by our Creator. Only He can fully satisfy the yearnings of the human heart for a
love which never fails. There is a "God-shaped hole" inside each one of us. Some attempt to fill up that inner
longing with pleasures and entertainments, drugs or possessions, fame or power. We may anaesthetise the
pain of being human by denial of the truth, but we shall not find satisfaction.

The Creator made us in his own "image and likeness", to be with the Holy Trinity for evermore. Only
if we love Him and grow to be like Him, can we share His perfect fulfilment and joy for all eternity. We must
not expect God to change to suit our tastes.

The First Commandment is to love God above all created things. Because He is infinite and almighty,
and gave us life itself, He is entitled to claim first place in our lives, in a way no lover or political messiah ever
can. In an analogy to the solar system, He is the sun, we are but planets, and if we allow our lives to revolve
around Him we shall find our true purpose. In contrast, the unconverted person either behaves as if he
himself were the sun and expects everybody else to revolve around him; alternatively he idolises his
girlfriend or career or money, and goes into orbit like a moon around them as planet.

The First Commandment helps to liberate us from all idolatries and all lesser gods. It commands us to
fix our hearts where they will not be disappointed, and frees us from worshipping all that cannot satisfy.

Dignitatis Humanae

All men are endowed with reason and freewill and therefore exercise personal responsibility. They
are both "impelled by their nature and bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious
truth." They are "bound to adhere to the truth as they come to know it, and to direct their whole lives in
accordance with the demands of truth." (DH2)

"Truth can impose itself in the mind of man only in virtue of its own truth, which wins over the mind
with gentleness and power. So while the religious freedom which men demand in fulfilling their obligation to
worship God in accordance with their conscience has to do with freedom from coercion in civil society, it



leaves intact the traditional Catholic teaching on the moral duty of individuals and societies towards the
truth religion and the one Church of Christ." (DH1)

The foundation of religious liberty lies in the nature of the human person himself. He must be able to
search for truth "by free enquiry with the help of teaching or instruction, communication and dialogue."

"Through his conscience he sees and recognises the demands of the divine law. He is bound to
follow this conscience faithfully in all his activity so that he may come to God who is his last end. Therefore
he must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to
his conscience, especially in religious matters."

Religion is not merely private, but a social matter. Hence groups, especially the family, have religious
rights too. To every right there is a corresponding duty, so it is the duty of each and of society to protect
religious liberty for all.

"Civil authority must undertake to safeguard the religious freedom of all the citizens in an effective
manner by just legislation and other appropriate means. It must help to create conditions favourable to the
fostering of religious life. . . “(DH6)

However, there may be limits, "since civil society has the right to protect itself against possible
abuses committed in the name of religion". Laws should be fairly applied, without favouritism, and with
respect for the just moral order. The equality of citizens before the law should never be violated overtly or
covertly for religious reasons. "It is wrong for a public authority to compel its citizens by force or fear or any
other means to profess or repudiate any religion or to prevent anyone from joining or leaving a religious

"There are many who, under the pretext of freedom, seem inclined to reject all submission to
authority, and make light of the duty of obedience." (DH8) Conscience is not in itself an inventor of moral
principles: it rather discerns pre-existing (transcendent) good and evil and urges us to act in accord with the

Magic, Divination and the Occult

The crucial distinction between magic and religion is this: Christian religion places the ego at the
service of God, asking for strength to do His will. Magic attempts to invoke and control supernatural or
occult forces to serve the self. It is essentially egoistic, be it white magic which claims to use beneficial
natural powers, or black witchcraft, voodoo and Satanism which have more sinister objectives.

Check out your local bookstore and you will see that witchcraft, occultism and superstition have a
substantial following. As Chesterton dryly noted: "When men cease to believe in God, they do not believe in
nothing, they believe in anything." Our age swings unpredictably between the scientistic rationalism of
Dawkins and a superstitious credulity. So on the one hand, we have UFO-logy and alien abductions (witness
the popularity of the X-files), while on the other the New Age movement brings us magic crystals, ley lines,
horoscopes and tarot cards, and even feng shui. Nature abhors a vacuum, even in spiritual terms, and all
sorts of oddities flood in to fill the void left by Christianity in retreat.



To venture into the spiritual world without protection or a reliable compass, is like setting out into
the Amazon jungle totally unprepared. The spiritual realm is full of wonders, among them poisonous beasts
to kill the unwary.

New Age represents a individualistic (pseudo-)spirituality coupled with a convenient absence of

moral obligations, rooted in a touchy-feely subjectivism. Yoga and TM are practices drawn from Hinduism.
Hatha yoga is a physical technique preceding meditation, and may be helpful. But no Christian should let
himself be drawn into chanting Hindu mantras to pagan gods.

By dabbling in the occult, Ouija boards, pagan worship, Satanism and hard drugs, one opens oneself
up to evil powers which one cannot control. For the sake of our sanity and well-being, God has lovingly
prohibited our involvement with occultism. Whoever plays with fire will sooner or later get burnt. Whoever
entertains Satan will find that he has chosen a cruel and dreadful master.

The existence of the devil and other fallen angels is an established part of Christian belief, somewhat
overlooked in modern Christianity. Please refer to CCC §394-5 and Flannery Vol. II, pp. 456-85, the SCDW
document entitled "Christian Faith and Demonology," The Fourth Lateran Council (1215) defined that God
originally created the devil and demons as good angels, but of their own will they became evil.

Pope Paul VI warned that the devil is "a living spiritual being that is perverted and perverts others:"
"It is a departure from the picture provided by biblical and Church teaching to refuse to acknowledge the
Devil's existence; to regard him as a self-sustaining principle who, unlike other creatures, does not owe his
origin to God; or to explain the devil as a pseudo-reality, a conceptual and fanciful personification of the
unknown causes of our misfortunes." (Quali sono 30.6.1972)

The devil's first great victory over us, is to make us believe that he does not exist.

Not only does the baptism rite include a minor exorcism, but also the RCIA. See §§69-74. Exorcism
and Renunciation of false worship; §94. Minor Exorcism prayers; §162. Third Scrutiny.

The practising Christian has no reason to fear the devil. We have divine protection and even authority
over the powers of evil. What we sometimes lack is confidence. Every day in the Our Father we repeat a
prayer for deliverance, a minor exorcism. However, we must play our part, by regularly receiving the
Sacraments, reading Scripture, and avoiding obvious pitfalls like certain types of heavy metal music and
horror films which glorify the work of Satan. We must not blame the devil for our own sins. We should not
be hasty or imprudent in attributing peculiar phenomena to diabolical activity.

Traditionally there are three grades of diabolical attack. The first is temptation, which we all suffer.
The second is obsession, where an area of a person's life is under demonic influence and he behaves
compulsively in this area with minimum freedom - this may come about by repeated and unresisted grave
sin. Thirdly, very rarely, there are instances of possession, where the person has lost control over his own
personality and has no freedom - presumably as a result of Satanism or occultism.

The horror films love extraordinary stories of demonic possession. The Christian should remember
that one thousand souls are lost by temptation for every one that is lost by possession (C.S.Lewis).

While any Christian can say prayers for deliverance from evil, an official solemn exorcism (in the
name of the Church) of a person or place is performed only by a priest delegated by the local Bishop - the



diocesan exorcist. He can use the Ritual, De exorcismis. Some Pentecostal groups regrettably fall into the
mindset of demonomania, attributing every illness and misfortune to demonic activity. They attempt to
"exorcise" all kinds of illness, spirits of divorce and unemployment and doubt and disobedience. Their clients
are often in an unstable condition to start with, and may suffer mental breakdown as a result of these

It is sinful to visit clairvoyants, mediums and astrologers. King Saul lost his throne for visiting the
witch of Endor and summoning up the prophet Samuel from the dead. Clairvoyants and mediums may be:
good judges of human nature, who can deduce a lot about a client from their appearance, conversation,
dress etc. and add to that a little inspired guesswork, in terms sufficiently broad that some of them must be
correct. They have no supernatural or paranormal links and are simply well-paid charlatans.

They can also be persons genuinely in touch with spiritual forces. This may be a natural gift, running
in the family for instance, or a gift acquired by magic and invocation. (Read Acts 16:16-19) However, the
spirits, whom they conjure up or converse with, are hardly likely to be spirits of the dead. They are evil spirits
impersonating the deceased, and leading on the bereaved with lies and false hopes. Beliefs contrary to
Christian doctrine are commonly propagated in such circles e.g. re-incarnation, the equivalence of all
religions and avatars, and universal salvation.

Bear in mind that the devil loves to spread confusion. One of his ploys is to create counterfeit
spiritual worlds to mimic such gifts of the Holy Spirit as prophecy, healings, words of knowledge and so on.
In this way he can prevent souls coming to Christ and his Church, and lead them instead up blind alleys.

Hauntings and Poltergeists

Occasionally priests are called to houses to deal with psychic or spiritual disturbances, fortunately
not very often. Much of the evidence - in the nature of the events - is anecdotal. It is difficult to discern
whether the phenomena are psychological and subjective (in the mind of a particular person) or objectively
caused by some spiritual presence. I remember one pensioner who thought a spirit was moving the curtain
and hissing at her - I'm pretty sure it was a draught of air round the window casing and gas hissing from the
coal on the fire.

The tradition of asking the priest to come and bless a new home has much to recommend it. One
does not know what happened there previously. The practice of séances, mediumship or occultism may have
left a susceptibility to the presence of spiritual evil. After all, churches and shrines are consecrated as holy
places of prayer, so the opposite can presumably be true. Places do have an atmosphere, especially if rooms
are painted black with occult symbols and inverted crucifixes on the walls!

The document on Demonology (Flannery II.477) says: "The Church always takes a critical stance . .
and asks for reserve and prudence." Nevertheless there are some inexplicable occurrences, noted by sane,
unromantic, even unimaginative, priests and laypeople. We should pray for the charism of discernment for
such cases. If a spiritual disturbance (ghost, apparition etc.) is reported in a house, there are three possible

 It is the spirit of a person who has died, and in some sense has not let go of the place. Treat
this as a request for intercession, and pray that they may find eternal rest.



 It is an evil spirit, possibly masquerading as the spirit of a dead person. This is possible if
séances have been held in the house, or if a previous occupant has been involved in the
occult or committed some serious crime or suicide there. The house should be blessed,
simple prayers of exorcism and protection recited, and the inhabitants urged to practise the
Christian faith and frequent the Sacraments, so as to leave no way in for the evil one.

 Some parapsychological cause - poltergeists etc. These seem to be connected with

adolescent girls, or with close relatives who have not been mourned - where funeral rites
were not performed or attended.

In general, to avoid spiritual disturbances, it helps greatly if all inhabitants of a house are practising
Christians. Irregular relationships should be sorted, unbaptized children christened, the duties of Sunday
Mass and daily prayer observed. Perhaps God allows such things to happen as a reminder of the existence of
the spiritual realm, and as a call to conversion. The diabolical attacks upon the Curé d'Ars, for example, were
a way in which that chosen soul suffered and won many graces for sinners.

One person's superstition may be another person's profound faith. The mother of a new baby
presents herself at the presbytery door, but never herself attends Mass or prays, and insists upon "having
her baby done" i.e. baptised. Is this superstition, or the last glimmering embers of a dying faith? And how do
you respond?

Or the Polish grandmother-to-be who carefully placed a piece of straw beneath her daughter's
pillow, before the birth of her grandchild. "I think my Mum put it there for good luck," said the daughter. The
hospital chaplain, intrigued, asked the grandmother why she had done it, and she replied: "Straw was good
enough for my Saviour to be born on, so it's fitting for my grandchild." Superstition, or a "prayer-in-action"?
We should not be too hasty to pass negative judgement upon pious practices, alien to our own
temperament though they may be.

Atheism and Agnosticism (CCC 2223-28)

"If there is no God, there is neither good nor evil, and everything is permitted." (Dostoyevsky)

Few people are full-blooded atheists. It is after all not a rational position, since the non-existence of
God cannot be proved. It is an "act of faith" in the non-existence of any deity. In a climate of logical
positivism, some may appeal to the "principle of verification": nothing is true which cannot be demonstrated
to be true by observation and experiment. Ironically, this principle itself cannot be proved to be true. It
asserts a priori that all true statements must be verifiable in a particular way typical only of the natural
sciences. This is a fundamental error: every academic discipline, every realm of life has its own methods of
proof. The lawcourt, the laboratory, the artist's studio, the boardroom, the conservatoire each have their
own approaches. How, for example, can you prove scientifically that Julius Caesar visited Britain in 55 BC, or
that your husband, daughter, or mother loves you?

As A.J.Ayer once surprised his interviewer: “The only problem with logical positivism is that it’s all

In reality, the dogmatic atheist has to actively narrow his horizons so as to exclude anything religious
which might jeopardise his pre-chosen position. He treats religious phenomena not with the impartial eye of



the scientific observer: perhaps yes, perhaps not, let us investigate. . . No, with an a priori denial rooted in his
philosophical prejudices, he disregards or mocks miracles, life after death, the religious and mystical
experiences of the vast majority of the human race, and the honest witness of sincere believers.

The atheist is grossly unscientific, because he avoids the evidence. Most atheists argue in the abstract. They
refuse to investigate actual historical instances of the miraculous like the Resurrection, the spread of the
early Church, the Turin Shroud, or the medically attested miracles of Lourdes. Atheism is a journey away
from reality.

The agnostic claims not to know whether or not God exists. We need to distinguish:

1. The dogmatic agnostic, who claims that it is impossible to know whether there is a God or not. This
hypothesis too is not provable. If an omnipotent Deity exists, He is ipso facto able to reveal Himself to his
creatures, who will then in some way know that He exists. A God who cannot communicate with his own
creation is a contradiction in terms.

2. The indifferent or lazy agnostic, who cannot be bothered to investigate the God-problem, and finds it
more convenient to live without God, and without the moral obligations which belief in God might entail.
However it is hardly human to ignore life's most fundamental question: Is there a God, and if so, what sort of
God is He/She/It? This agnostic in effect is saying: the question of God is unimportant to me. This is unreal,
because every day we are faced with moral choices, and ultimately the fact of our own death and passage
beyond. We are not impartial, objective philosophical observers somewhere outside the field of life: we are
totally involved on the pitch, and we have decisions to make.

Both these agnostic approaches are equivalent to a practical atheism. In contrast there is also:

3. The honest but searching agnostic: "I do not know whether or not God exists, but I want to know,
because I can see how important this question is." He will examine the arguments for the existence of God,
the witness of Revelation, but ultimately he must pray in order to receive the grace of faith: "God, if you
exist, show me that you exist,"

Graven Images

"I saw a Catholic on his knees before a statue; he must be worshipping it," says the Fundamentalist.
If you see the fundamentalist on his knees with an open Bible before him, is he therefore worshipping the
Bible? If a woman has her parents’ photo on the mantelpiece, is she engaging in ancestor-worship? If a man
has his children's pictures in his wallet, is he guilty of idolatry?

The Old Testament forbade images of God made by human hand, in order to teach man the utter
transcendence of the Lord. However, that dispensation has passed away. The Father has given us his only
Son as a true icon of Himself. Now, in Christ, we have the perfect picture of God revealed: "He who has seen
me has seen the Father." Images of Christ remind us and help us to meditate upon the Incarnation. Statues,
icons, paintings and mozaics of Mary and the saints help us to concentrate in prayer when we invoke their

Traditionally we distinguish between worship (latria) to God and the Blessed Sacrament alone, and
honour or veneration shown to the saints (doulia) and Mary (hyperdoulia).




'You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.' (Exod. 20:7.)

The Jews did not and still do not pronounce the sacred name God revealed to Moses, the
tetragrammaton (four letters) YHWH. Some of them were scandalized at the Jerusalem Bible's free use of
this as Yahweh. In an strictly orthodox synagogue, Gentiles may not even be allowed to look at the scrolls on
which the sacred name is written. It is never pronounced. The reader will always substitute Adonai (my lord)
or Elohim (god pl.) for the name of God. The Jews were used to circumlocutions like El-Shaddai (the
Almighty) or El-Elyon (the Most High) out of reverence for the sacred name.

The pronunciation of YHWH is uncertain. In Jesus' time, only the Jewish High Priest uttered the
Sacred Name, on one or two occasions per year in Temple worship. It was passed down in the oral tradition
of the priestly and scribal circles, and is now lost.

In the New Testament the most sacred name is Jesus, Yeshua or Yehoshua, which means "Yahweh
saves" - since He is the one who is to save his people from their sins, as Gabriel said at the Annunciation. Few
habits are more objectionable than using the Holy Name as a casual swear word. This is blasphemy in the
strict sense, much worse than bad language which involves the crude sexual terms. It is something which
Christians should constantly protest against, just as Muslims would protest if the name of Allah were used as
a swear word.

To say "Oh, God!" as a prayer at a time of shock or danger is justifiable. But to keep saying "Oh, God!"
casually is venially sinful, and gives bad example. We should only invoke God in prayer, blessing or adoration,
not as a casual exclamation. Perhaps this was why an older generation favoured "By Jove!" and "Eee, by

The Middle Ages were more religious in their curses. "Bloody" comes from "by our Lady", and
"Swounds" or "Zounds!" was "by God's wounds". European languages still preserve some of this. The
Czechs have "Sakrament!"


'Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Six days you shall labour, and do all your work;
but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God;
in it you shall not do any work.' (Ex. 20:8-10)

The significance of Sunday. History of the Lord's Day. The Sabbath rest.

"Sunday is the day of the Resurrection, it is the day of Christians, it is our day," wrote St Jerome. "It is
Easter which returns week by week, celebrating Christ's victory over sin and death, the fulfilment in Him of
the first creation, and the dawn of the 'new creation'. It is domingo (Sp.), domenica (It.), κυριακη (kyriake,
Gk.) - the Lord's day. In Russian it is воскресенье (voskresenye), literally "resurrection". And in Polish,
niedziela, "no work".



In Hebrew the verb shabbat means "to rest." The Saturday Sabbath begins at sunset on Friday. In the
main Jerusalem market you can watch the Hasidic rabbis come round to make sure the stallholders have
ceased trading and have everything packed away before the Sabbath begins. They don't mince their words
with any who are slow about closing . . .

The Jewish Sabbath marks the seventh day when God "rested" (Gen.2:2) from his work of creation,
to contemplate joyfully its beauty. "God blessed the seventh day and made it holy,” thus endowing time
itself with a kind of "sacred architecture." The Sabbath interrupts the often oppressive rhythm of work and
expresses the dependence of man and the cosmos upon God. The seventh day consecrated to God is a
constant reminder to man that the universe and history belong not to him, but to his Maker. Unless man
remembers this, he cannot properly serve in the world as a co-worker with the Creator.

We know from the Gospels that Jewish Sabbath regulations were detailed and onerous. Orthodox
Judaism today continues the tradition derived from the Pharisees: no use of motor vehicles or electricity
switches, no carrying things from house to house, unless the entire area is fenced in by wire as a single

We had an illustration of this in the parish. One parishioner hosted Jewish students for B&B over the
weekend. To prevent the light switching on when they opened the fridge door, he taped up the door-
operated light button inside. Otherwise opening the fridge would have constituted breaking the Sabbath,
and they wouldn't have got anything to eat!

The Jewish "seventh day" was, in God's providence, a preparation for the Christian Sunday. After the
resurrection, the dies Domini became the dies Christi. Besides the Resurrection itself and appearances to
Mary Magdalene and the Apostles, the Emmaus meal, the appearance to Thomas one week later, and the
giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, all fell on Sundays.

So Christians gathered "on the first day of the week" (1 Cor 16:2) for the breaking of bread. Pliny the
Younger (d.113), Governor of Bithynia, writes to Emperor Trajan about the Christians:

"They affirmed that this was the height of their guilt or error: that they were accustomed to gather together
on a set day before sunrise, and to sing among themselves a hymn to Christ as God, and to bind themselves
by an oath not to any crime, but to avoid theft, robbery or adultery, lest they might fall from their faith and
deny their calling. Having done all this, they used to disperse, and then congregated later to take food, albeit
of a common and harmless sort."

This day was evidently "the Lord's day", a term which was in use by the end of the 1st century
(Revelation 1:10; Didache 14; Ignatius of Antioch, Magnesians 9:1). The festive days of the Roman and Greek
calendars did not coincide with the Christian "day of the resurrection". Believers were working, so they had
to assemble either "before sunrise" or later on after work. It was difficult to maintain fidelity to this pattern,
but they nonetheless risked persecution and sometimes death in order to participate in the Eucharist.

Jewish Christians probably still kept the shabbat at the synagogue, then joined their Gentile fellow
believers for Christian worship after the close of the sabbath at sundown, either in the evening or early
Sunday morning. When the church became mostly Gentile, Sunday remained as the customary day of



Hebrews 10:23-5 instructed them: "Let us hold fast to the confession of our faith without wavering. . .
not neglecting the meeting together (episinagoge), as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another,
and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." Sinagoge literally means a gathering together. It gives us
the word synagogue. The prefix epi- is intensive.

The early writings we call the Didaskalia (Teachings) counsel: "Leave everything on the Lord's Day
and run diligently to your assembly, because it is your praise of God. Otherwise, what excuse will they make
to God, those who do not come together on the Lord's day to hear the word of life and feed on the divine
nourishment which lasts for ever?"

Some writers referred to the Sabbath as the rest promised to the people of God at the end of time
and to Sunday as "the eighth day," or beginning of a new world (Hebrews 4:4-11; Letter of Barnabas 15). For
example St Basil (d.379) writes that Sunday symbolises "the day without end which will know neither
evening nor morning, the imperishable age which will never grow old. Sunday is the ceaseless foretelling of
life without end which renews the hope of Christians and encourages them on their way." It is the day of
Christ-light, the day of the sun which never sets.

The early Christian practice of Sunday Eucharist gradually became a general norm for believers. The
Council of Elvira Canon 21 introduced sanctions against those who missed three consecutive Sunday liturgies.

In 321 the Roman emperor Constantine decreed Sunday to be a legal holiday and forbade all trade
and work other than necessary agricultural labour. Later emperors extended the prohibition to include
public amusements in the theatre and circus. Assemblies for the Eucharist were common on Saturday,
however, as well as on Sunday in the Eastern churches into the 5th century, and Eastern canons forbade the
practice, customary in the Roman Church, of fasting on the Shabbat.

The synod of Laodicea (c. 381) urged Christians not to "Judaize" but to work on the Sabbath and
rest, if possible, on the Lord's Day. The Old Testament commandment of Sabbath rest received a spiritual
interpretation from the Church Fathers when they applied it to Sunday; e.g., Augustine of Hippo taught that
the sabbath rest from servile work meant abstention from sin (Tract. in Joannis, Book III, chapter 19; Book
XX, chapter 2). However the Third Synod of Orleans (538) forbade Sunday work in the fields, and by the C7
abstinence from manual work and certain profane activities was required on Sundays, by both conciliar
canons and indeed the civil laws of the Frankish kingdoms. In 789 the Council of Aachen (canon 80) adopted
Charlemagne's prohibition of Sunday labour, made compulsory throughout the Empire. Medieval legislation
thereafter repeatedly sought to enforce the "holiday" of Sunday, as also of many other holy days, for the
benefit of serfs and labourers.

The principal purpose of the Sabbath rest is to allow time for celebration of Mass. Attendances is
noticeably lower on Holydays of Obligation which are also working days. However we are called upon to
sanctify the whole day, not merely to go to Mass. "Christ's disciples should shape the moments of the day -
family life, social relations, moments of relaxation - in such a way that the peace and joy of the risen Lord
emerge in these ordinary events."

Dies Domini recommends some reflective time together in the family, the catechesis of children or
possible Evening Prayer together. "The Church is unwilling to settle for minimalism or mediocrity at the level
of faith," despite the difficulties of keeping Sunday holy in modern society.



It is a day when the whole parish celebrates together, so small group Masses are not encouraged. If
possible, Catholics should communicate at Sunday Mass, at the banquet where Christ himself is our
nourishment, "provided that they are properly disposed and, if aware of grave sin, have received God's
pardon in the Sacrament of Reconciliation" (DD 44)

The sick and housebound should, if possible, follow Mass by radio or TV, and it is especially helpful if
extraordinary ministers can bring them the Eucharist from the Sunday Liturgy.

Christians should avoid work on Sundays and decline to take Sunday overtime. If genuine economic
hardship forces them to hold on to a job requiring Sunday working, there is no sin. However, if there is a
choice, they must make representation to their boss and ask to keep Sundays free for religious reasons.
Rerum Novarum (1891) emphasized that Sunday rest is a worker's right which the state must guarantee.
Both Tory and Labour governments have been taking us backwards in recent years, because the conscience
clauses do not give employees adequate protection against subtle pressures. The worthy celebration of the
Lord's day will often incur some financial disadvantage or sacrifice. It is not a day for shopping expeditions,
even if the supermarkets are open. Necessary groceries should be bought, if possible, on the Saturday or

Culture and entertainment should be in some harmony with the Gospel (DD 68). It is also a day for
"works of mercy, charity and the apostolate," a day of solidarity with the needy. Far from absolving us from
works of charity, the Sunday Eucharist commits Christians all the more to works of mercy and apostolic

The Christian Sunday is the Lord's day, the day of Resurrection. When the British Government
allowed Sunday Trading and abandoned the special nature of Sunday, it reversed the legislation of
Constantine in 321 AD. Was it thus breaking any residual covenant the nation had with God, saying implicitly:
"We will not dedicate this day to God or worship Him. We will worship at Sainsbury's and Tesco's. We will
worship what our own hands have made. Our workers will have no day of rest. We want no day of
resurrection." Investigate how busy your local supermarket is at Sunday lunchtime. What percentage of
these crowds have worshipped God in the Eucharist, in thanksgiving for all the luxuries they can buy?

What excuses Catholics from participation at Sunday Mass?

Participation requires not only physical presence, but also internal devotion. The liturgies of the
Word and of the Eucharist are bound inseparably together as "one single act of worship", and neither may
be omitted.

The obligation to attend binds all from the age of reason, and it is fulfilled by any Mass between
Saturday midday and Sunday midnight, or even on Friday, Mondays etc. by episcopal permission, when the
priest cannot reach all his out-stations at weekend.

Excused from Mass attendance are the sick or convalescent who cannot attend, or who risk harm by
going to Church e.g elderly and frail parishioners in very bad weather; Those who are too far from church
(more than an hour's travel for the healthy) or cannot afford transportation are excused; urgent works of
charity or emergencies excuse (e.g. a close relative taken seriously ill); as do professional duties (doctors,
nurses, firemen on call). Parishioners going on holiday should try to locate churches and Mass times before
departure; on tours they should insist on provision being made for church attendance, unless it causes grave



disruption to schedules. Those on long-distance coaches, trains and planes, travelling throughout Saturday
evening and Sunday, are exempt.

Not excused are those who intended to go to Sunday evening Mass, "but then the family turned up."
The non-attending family need to learn how important the Mass is to their grandmother or grandfather: they
should be invited along to Mass. The elderly should not be ashamed to request a bit of charity from non-
practising members of their family, by asking for a lift to Mass. We must not let the world de-evangelise us: it
is up to Mass-goers to persuade others to fit in with their spiritual priorities, not vice-versa. It is the most
important hour of the entire week.

A Sunday Mass missed unavoidably can profitably be made up on a weekday. Although this does not
strictly satisfy the obligation, it provides sacramental support and maintains connection with the parish

What if, because of illness or absence of priests, there is no Mass in one's home parish? A Liturgy of
the Word with distribution of Holy Communion may take place. This may fulfil the obligation, if the bishop
has given a dispensation. However, of itself it does not obligate attendance. In any case, in England and
Wales, most of those with cars are well able to make their way to the next parish for Mass. If someone can
travel 10 or 20 miles for shopping, football or the cinema, then they can do the same for Mass. Those who
rely on public transport, especially in rural areas, may have much more difficulty. Parishioners need to
practice solidarność in car-sharing and offering lifts. As regards distance the conditions given above apply.

How are we to insist upon the importance of attending Sunday Mass?

"Keep holy the sabbath day" (Exod. 20:8); "Do this in memory of me" (Lk 22:19); Unless you eat my
body and drink my blood, you will not have life within you." (Jn 6)

Lapsation may be a result of poor catechesis, of a dull and unappealing liturgy, of negligently slipping
into careless habits, of adopting a lifestyle incompatible with Christianity. Many Catholics grew up in homes
where the obligation was not taken seriously. To them, Church is an optional extra, reserved to Christmas
and maybe Easter. Some instruction and indeed challenge is therefore necessary. We have to state very
clearly, that it is not possible to be a proper Christian in God's eyes without participating in a worshipping
community. Absence allows us to grow spiritually weak and cold.

We need to overcome any attitude of individualism. Perhaps I do not feel any great need to attend
Mass, or any particular benefit from it. But my attendance helps to encourage others. My absence deprives
them of my prayer and encouragement. Perhaps "I'm all right, Jack." But there are many others there on
Sunday who are not all right: they are grieving a lost relative, faced with unemployment, clinical depression,
substance abuse in the family, struggling to grow in faith, and desperately needing the help of others in
prayer. To think only of my own spiritual needs is very selfish. We must do what is right, not what is easy or
convenient. By our absence we slowly reduce our involvement with the parish community. We are no longer
challenged to support church charities and outreach. We weaken the entire Church.

Yes, Jesus was compassionate with sinners, but his was always a challenging compassion, never
content to leave the person in their sin.



Assuming that a person is well-instructed, continual absence from Mass suggests that they have not
sufficient love of God in their hearts for their own salvation. If they had, they would want to attend Mass, to
thank and praise him. What does missing Mass at Christmas and Easter say? It implies: I do not want to share
in the benefits brought by the Incarnation and Resurrection. I will have no part in them.

When the rich young man approached Jesus and asked "Master, what I must do to have eternal life?"
Jesus first reply was: “. . . If you would enter life, keep the commandments." Can a person expect to share in
the Resurrection, when he refuses to celebrate it each week in obedience to the divine command? What
reward can anyone expect from God for disobedience to his solemn commandment?

If someone gave you £168, and then asked for £1 back to invest on your behalf, would you refuse
him? God gives us 168 hours every week. Can we not give back the one hour he asks of us?

Jesus invites us and promises to meet us at a particular place and time every week. If we refuse to
turn up to that encounter, can we then demand that He be present to us at other times?

Regular Sunday Mass is vital for the Christian life. It is the major channel of grace. It is not an optional
extra. If our souls and spirits go unnourished, we slowly become alienated from Christ and his Truth. In
opinion polls, non-practising Catholics show a much wider divergence from Church teaching than do the
Mass-goers. Deprived of grace, they slowly adapt themselves to the norms of pagan society around.

We cannot be saved as lone individuals. Christ saves us as members of his Mystical Body, the church
community, the εκκλησια (ekklesia), the people "called out" of darkness into his own wonderful light. "A
man cannot have God for his father if he will not have the Church for his Mother", writes Augustine. The
Eucharist creates the Church, it is "source and summit" of the Church's life. Powerful graces flow from the
Mass, and Sunday Mass is "at the heart of the Church's life." In order to be secure on the "ark of salvation",
we have to be participating regularly in the Mass.

For Christian families, the Sunday assembly is one of the most outstanding expressions of their
identity and "ministry" as "domestic churches", when parents share with their children at the one Table of
the Word and the Bread of Life." Thus they fulfil the solemn promises they made at their children's Baptism.

"Blessed be He who has raised the great day of Sunday above all other days. The heavens, the earth,
angels and men give themselves over to joy."(Maronite Liturgy)






1. That there is only One God.

2. That that One God has Three Divine and Distinct Persons.
3. That the proper use of images is not absolutely forbidden.
4. Allows veneration of Mary and the Saints.


1. Liberating Truth
2. Reconciling Truth
3. Loving Truth


1. Faith – belief, trust and obedience

2. Hope – trust on God’s promises of hope and mercy
3. Charity – Godly love


1. Prayer – communication with God

2. Worship – Adoration due only to God


1. The Four Acts and Ends of Prayer

a) Adoration – latria, hyperdulia, dulia

b) Contrition or Reparation
c) Thanksgiving
d) Supplication or Petition

2. The Four Factors During Prayer:

a) Place
b) Position
c) Passage
d) Presence



3. The Seven Holy Names of God:

a) El – God e) Elyon –Most High

b) Elohim – “Gods” f) Qadosh – Most Holy
c) Shaddai – Almighty g) JHWH, JHVH,
d) Adonai – Lord Yahweh – I Am Who Am


A) Against Faith:

• Voluntary Doubt – the outright refusal of the revealed truth of God and of the Church.
• Involuntary Doubt – hesitation in accepting the revealed truth.
• Incredulity – neglect of the revealed truth.
• Heresy – post-baptismal denial or distortion of some of the revealed truth.
• Apostasy – total repudiation of a baptized person of the Christian Faith.
• Schism – the refusal to submit to the Pope’s authority or of communion with the members of the

B) Against Hope.

 Despair – when man ceases to hope for his personal salvation from God or help in attaining
forgiveness of sins.
 Presumption – either believing that man can save himself by his own capacities or being saved by
God without mercy and conversion.

C. Against Charity.

• Indifference – neglect or refusal to reflect upon divine charity.

• Ingratitude – failure or refusal to acknowledge divine charity.
• Lukewarmness – hesitation or negligence in responding to divine love.
• Acedia - spiritual sloth or refusal of the joy that comes from God.
• Hatred of God – comes from pride.

D. Other Violations

• Wrongful Worship – deviation from real worship.

• Idolatry - faith in other things besides God.
• Divination – withdrawal from God’s providence.
• Superstition – departure from worship other than God.
• Vain Observance – the use of spells, amulets, charms, etc.
• Indifferentism – lukewarmness in faith.
• Simony – the selling of sacred objects and services.
• Irreligion – disregard for the faith or tempting God.
• Atheism – secularism, humanism, socialism.
• Sacrilege – maltreatment of sacred persons, place or things.




A. TRUTH: Ps. 8:1, Phil. 2:9-11

1. To use God’s Holy Name with reverence and honor.

2. Includes objects, persons and places associated with God since the Name of the Lord is Holy (Our
Father Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name…)
3. A name when invoked makes a person as if present and refers also to one’s personal identity.


1. Blasphemy – insulting or cursing God.

2. Unlawful Oath – Lying
3. Perjury – a false oath or promised oath that is not kept.
4. Breaking One’s Lawful Vow – nuns and priests violating either their vows of poverty, celibacy and
5. Curse – wishing evil upon another person
6. Profanity – the use of immodest words or being vulgar, especially when one invokes the God’s
Name in anger.
7. Abuse of God’s Name – the improper use of the “Names” of God, Jesus, Mary and the Saints.


Reminds us that:

a) Sunday as the “Day of Grace”

b) Sunday as “Rest from Work”

A. Fulfilment

a. The obligatory worship of God during Sundays and Holydays of Obligation.

b. Observing the Sabbath (Rest day).
c. No servile work.
d. Sunday = The Christian Sabbath.
e. Holy Mass = Community worship.
f. Wholesome recreation and entertainment.
g. Allows works of Mercy.
h. Allows mind over body activities that are relaxing.
i. Attending to family needs.
j. Attending important social services or works of charity are excusable.

B. Holydays of Obligations in the Philippines

a. January 1 – Solemnity of the Mother of God

b. December 8 – Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
c. December 25 – The Nativity of Our Lord
d. All Sundays of the Year



C. Reasons for the Observance of the Sabbath

a. God rested on the 7th day after creation – (tranquility, serenity, peace and repose than just
mere physical rest).
b. Liberation from slavery in Egypt – commemorating the day of liberation…and its social
dimension, focusing on the socially disadvantaged and oppressed (liberation from slavery of
sin; Deut 5:14).
c. “The Sabbath is made for man…” (Mk 2:27-28) – non-pharisaic observance of the Sabbath.

D. Violations

a. The deliberate non-attendance of Holy Mass on the specified days (failure to fulfill one’s
duty-mission as a Christian).
b. Doing servile work (requires labor of body rather than the mind).
c. Engaging in worldly entertainment (gambling, drinking, immodest dances, bad movies, etc.)





'Honour your father and your mother.' (Exod. 20:12)

A Christian Vision of Family Life:

The family is the "original cell of social life" (CCC 2207). The authority, stability and relationships
formed within the family, give a young person the foundations for "freedom, security and fraternity" within
society. "Family life is an initiation into society."

When family life is healthy, the whole of society is likely to be healthy. But when family life is sick,
that disease slowly affects the entire society and the Church. The family is the natural unit or cell for bringing
children into the world, and rearing them in the love of God and their neighbour. To be human was, until
recently, to have been begotten by man and woman. Even now, someone has still to supply the gametes!

The whole of Catholic sexual ethics has this purpose: to strengthen and protect family life and love,
to build relationships which are permanent, stable and loving, and which afford human happiness and
fulfilment according to God's will for us.

Authority in the Family and in Society

The most elemental form of authority in human society is parental authority over children. Husband
and wife share in God's creative work when they beget and help children to grow up. All authority flows
from the Author of all, God our Creator. God vests his authority in parents.

The word comes from the Latin root augere meaning "to grow", which gives us words like auxin
(plant growth hormone) and augment. Every form of communal life needs an authority, a principle of
unification, coordination and discipline, with the ability to sanction the actions of members of that society
towards the common good. Good authority fosters growth.

Authority should always be a ministerium, a service of the common good, guaranteeing a dynamic
order and well-being. It has to balance individuals' rights with their fulfilment of duties.

We need to distinguish between rightful authority and its wrongful abuse in authoritarianism. While
reacting against the latter, many people fall into an anti-authority mentality, the rejection of legitimate
authority. This is the high road to anarchism and chaos. Abusus non tollit usum - the abuse of something does
not negate its proper use; it does not prove that it should be abolished. Otherwise we would abolish all
motor cars because some people drive too fast and cause accidents.

No social group has ever existed and survived without some form of authority. The French and the
Russian Revolutions teach us that those who overturn the established authorities, may become even more



authoritarian themselves. The question always is, what sort of authority is proper, and how shall it be

It is the task of civil authority to promote:

1. Maximum participation of citizens in social and political life.

2. The education of citizens in life and in public responsibility.
3. To select and educate future rulers well, by civic and political formation. They should gain
experience at lower levels of town and province, and also experience different branches of
government (education, law, finance etc.)

It is desirable that power be dispersed between the legislature e.g. Parliament; the executive -
government ministries, the police and customs; and the judiciary - the court system. Uncontrolled
centralization of power can be very dangerous.

Is state authority divinely derived? St Paul (Rom. 13:1-7) maintains that it is. "He who resists the
authorities resists what God has appointed . . . For rulers are not a terror to good conduct but to bad . . . he is
the servant of God to execute His wrath on the wrongdoer . . . Pay all of them their dues." 1 Peter 2:13-17
tells Christians to "Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the Emperor as
supreme, or to governors . . .”

The Church does not specify one particular political system: She has had to adapt and survive with all
sorts of regimes: empires, monarchies, dictatorships, democracies. We can classify the various types under
two headings:

1. Theocratic states: OT Israel, the Holy Roman Empire, the Papal States, Calvin's Geneva, the Stuart
monarchy with its theory of kingly rule by divine right. God reigns via the Sovereign.

2. Immanentist rule - the divine comes through the people and the organs they elect or which embody
their aspirations.

a) Democracy - relying upon the divine spark in Everyman, who votes for his rulers.
b) Totalitarianism - the State embodies the divine Spirit, a concept of the German philosopher
c) Nationalism - one race or nation considers itself chosen and sacred, with a special destiny.
d) Socialism/communism - the will of the proletariat, expressed via the Party, is sacred and
historically irresistible.
e) Autocracy - the will of the conqueror is sacred.

State authority is necessarily limited. We saw in an earlier chapter that human positive law is only
valid so long as it does not contravene the divine natural law and divine positive law. Unjust or immoral laws
are not binding in conscience. They contribute to authority being undermined. Aquinas notes that an unjust
law is an act of violence.



The Family in God's Plan

The Bible begins with the creation of Adam and Eve for one another, and the command: Go forth and
multiply. It ends with the wedding feast of the lamb. The marriage theme runs consistently through the
entire Scripture.

CCC 2201 points out that "the consent of the spouses" is the bedrock of marriage and family life. It
lists two purposes: "the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children." Notice that the
family comes prior to any State or public body. The family enjoys God-given rights, which the State must
respect, does not bestow and cannot withdraw.

The British State began registering marriages only in 1830 and dissolving them in 1857 with the
introduction of civil divorce. Prior to that all marriages had to be contracted in the Church of England, or
before 1559 in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has been blessing and solemnising marriages in
Britain since the days of St Alban (305 AD) or earlier.

At present both Westminster and the U.N. documents speak of various kinds of "alternative families"
- one-parent families, cohabitees, polygamists, serial monogamists, "gay couples" adoptive families etc., CCC
2202 stresses that the normative family is that of "a man and a woman united in marriage, together with
their children." In dealing with Social Services, Health and Education services, we must insist that they
respect our Catholic cultural and religious heritage, just as they would claim to respect that of Hindus and

By the principle of subsidiarity, the role of the State and other social bodies is to support the family
when necessary. Public bodies can never replace the family or usurp its prerogatives.

The Christian family is "the domestic Church", ecclesiola domestica (CCC 2204). The father is called to
exercise a priestly role for the benefit of his wife and children. He has spiritual responsibility for the welfare
of their souls. CCC 2205 calls for daily family prayer and meditation on the Scriptures. The crisis in the Church
today is not fundamentally a crisis of vocations to the priesthood: it is a crisis of Catholic family life.

Conversely, the Church is the "Family of God." Revelation is full of family words like Father, Son,
Mother, children, brothers and sisters, to describe our relationships with the Holy Trinity and the saints.

The Nature and Purpose of Sexuality: CCC 2331-36

To be human is to exist either as male or as female. We are sexual beings by nature, existing in one of
these two modes. Sexuality urges us out of isolation into the company of others. We find others attractive;
we look for a suitable and trusted companion. Most of the human race finds their closest relationships in
family bonds – of love and of blood. There is an old saying: 'You choose your own friends, but God gives you
your family. Our families challenge us to love in a more Christ-like way than do our friends, selected to suit

It is not good for man to be alone. Man was made for community – family, friends, social groups.
Even the hermit monk is spiritually bonded to humanity by his intercessory prayers. Man and woman were
made in the image of God, the image of the Trinity, the Divine Community. In the mystery of the Godhead,



the love of the Father and the Son is so powerful that it is a Third Divine Person, the Holy Spirit "who
proceeds from the Father and the Son."

"The primordial model of the family is to be sought in God Himself, in the Trinitarian mystery of His
life. . . The divine We is the eternal pattern of the human "we". (JPII, Letter to Families)

In Matrimony, the cooperation of husband and wife in the creation of new life mirrors in a dim way
the fruitful Divine Love. Marriage is a covenant in which man and woman "give themselves to each other and
accept each other." They form a communion of life and love, and by their loving can bring into existence a
third person, their child. As 'two become one flesh' in sexual union, by God's gift a new human being of
infinite value can come into being. That child will continue to live for all eternity. In sexual union, therefore,
man and woman become co-creators with God of a new human life. He infuses an immortal soul into that
which is conceived. The child bears characteristics of both its father and its mother. A child is the greatest
gift a couple can give to one another, and one of God's greatest gifts to them both. "The children . . . should
consolidate that [marriage] covenant, enriching and deepening the conjugal communion of the father and
mother." The family is the first human society, as we have already noted.

It follows from this that sexual intercourse is a most sacred and precious act, worthy of immense
reverence. In its potential to call into existence a new human person, destined to live for ever, it is an act
which flows towards the shores of eternity. Every one of us originates from such a union of our father and
mother. One commentator noted that when God wants to breathe new life into the world or into the
Church, He does not start by forming committees. Instead, He sends the Holy Spirit and puts a generous love
into the hearts of His sons and daughters, a love that bears fruit in offspring. Every baby is a sign of hope for
the future of the world, and of God's confidence in mankind.

Every new child brings into the world a particular and unrepeatable "image and likeness" of God
Himself. Therefore God is present in human fatherhood and motherhood in a very special way, as the source
of this "image and likeness of Himself." This exists primarily in the immortal soul, secondarily in the genetic
constitution. Begetting is a continuation of the great act of creation. For this reason it should take place only
in the graced environment of the Sacrament of Matrimony.

Man is "the only creature on earth whom God willed for his own sake." Every person who exists has
been willed to exist by God. You may have seen the car sticker: "Drive carefully, most people are caused by
accidents." Amusing, but in fact totally untrue. We may make "mistakes", but God does not. "At the moment
of conception itself, man is already destined to eternity in God" (JP II ibid.)

Parents desire to have children to start or to expand their family. But, like God, they should also will
the child for its own sake. A child is a gift from God, not a possession of the parents. Every child is one for
whose redemption Christ shed his blood on the Cross. "A soul is worth a world." A child is only on loan for
eighteen years to his/her parents: then s/he must make his/her own way in the world.

The essential qualities of Christian marriage

According to Augustine God instituted marriage for three reasons: proles, fides, sacramentum i.e.
the good of offspring, the blessing of mutual fidelity and love, and indissolubility following from its sacred
symbolism, signifying the union of Christ with his Church. Natural marriage enjoys the first two goods, but
only Christian marriage has the third, and is raised to a new degree of excellence by it.



Trent listed three reasons for marriage; firstly, the association and companionship, mutual help in
facing the trials of life and old age; secondly the purpose of procreation, to raise up children, especially in the
true faith; thirdly, as a remedium concupiscentiae, a remedy for concupiscence which allows one to avoid
sins of lust.

In Casti Connubii (1930) Pius XI went further. He included conjugal love as part of the good of fidelity.
This love must go beyond mutual help and have as its primary purpose that the spouses help each other
grow in virtue and holiness. He did not see marriage as incidental only to offspring, but implied that Christian
marriage is in itself a vocation and way of holiness.

Vatican II in GS 47-52 presented an integrated view of marriage and family. They are a "community of
love." Conjugal love "is uniquely expressed and perfected through the marital act." The fruitfulness of
marriage is the fulfilment of this act.

Indissolubility in the New Testament

As expectations of marital satisfaction have risen, so the number dissatisfied with their own
particular attempts seems to have multiplied. Easier divorce has led to a situation where 45% of marriages in
Britain now end in divorce, and 800,000 children never see their own fathers. How can we respond to this

Both Jesus and St Paul stress the indissolubility of marriage. Look up and copy out the relevant parts
of the following texts: 1 Cor.7:10-11; Mk 10:1-12; Lk 16:18; Mt. 5:32 and 19:3-12. You will notice that while
Paul, Mark and Luke are quite categorical on the question of divorce and remarriage, Matthew's texts
introduce an extra phrase, "except for fornication" - me epi porneia in the Greek. The meaning appears to be
this: "A man who divorces his wife - (I am not talking about cases of cohabitation / irregular unions) - and
marries another, is guilty of adultery." (19:9)

This has led to prolonged debate. It could also be read as: "A man who divorces his wife - which is
allowed on grounds of adultery - but then goes on to marry another, is guilty of adultery." St Paul allowed a
wife to separate from her husband, but not to remarry. Matthew may be allowing a separation on the
grounds of adultery, but no remarriage by either party afterwards. All five quotations need to be read
together. It is not legitimate to read Mt. 19:9 contrary to Mark, Luke and Paul, in the sense of permitting
divorce and remarriage on the grounds of adultery. Examination of the context of Mt. 19 clarifies Jesus'

The Jewish law allowed a man to divorce his wife if he found some "erwat dabar" - cause of
unworthiness in her. The laxer school of Pharisees and scribes (Hillel) interpreted this very broadly. If the
wife gossiped too much with the neighbours, spoke disrespectfully of her in-laws or put too much salt in the
cooking, she could be dismissed. The husband must say "I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you," and give
her the writ of divorce. That was it. She had no redress. A woman could never divorce her husband. The
stricter school of Shammai held that adultery alone was grounds for divorce. Human nature being as it is, the
practice of Hillel prevailed.



When Jesus answers the Pharisees' question (19:3), He sides with neither school. Instead He goes
back to the creation account in Genesis, and reminds them of God's original intentions: "They are no longer
two, therefore, but one body. Therefore what God has united, man must not divide." Moses had allowed
divorce only because of their hardness of heart. henceforth, let it be as was originally intended. The reaction
of the apostles proves that they were shocked at the radical nature of Jesus' teaching: "If that is how things
are between husband and wife, it is not advisable to marry." He was not allowing divorce with remarriage
even after the adultery of one partner. The following reference to "eunuchs" proves this conclusively.

Reading the Patristic texts shows that this was how the early Church understood Jesus' words. The
Shepherd of Hermas (c.140-50) asks the angel of penance what a man should do, if he discover that his wife
is conducting an adulterous affair and refuses to break it off. "Let him put her away", the angel replies, "and
let the husband remain single. But if after he has put away his wife, he marries another, then he too commits

St Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, and Theophilus of Antioch, all before 180 AD, mention Christ's
absolute prohibition of divorce and remarriage, with no exceptions. Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian
explicitly state that remarriage after divorce is as impossible for the innocent party as it is for the guilty. For
the first three centuries, all the data from the churches in Rome, Africa, Greece, Syria, Spain and Gaul point
to the very same conclusion. The procession of witnesses continues down the centuries with Hilary of
Poitiers, John Chrysostom, Ambrose, Augustine and Gregory Nazianzen.

Does Jesus intend the indissolubility of marriage to be a rule for all Christians, or is it an ideal to aim
at? The Catholic Church believes that neither she, nor anyone else on earth, has power to dissolve the
marriage bond of a ratified and consummated sacramental marriage between two baptised Christians.

The Catholic Church recognises that sometimes spouses need to separate either temporarily or
permanently. (CCC 1649). Examples might be: in cases of unrepented and continuing adultery with a third
party, of severe domestic violence, of chronic and untreated alcoholism or drug abuse where the spouse or
children are in danger.

If marriage counselling and persuasion have failed, and after a reasonable period of time, one may
legally have to go further than informal separation. Within six months, the innocent spouse should bring a
case for separation - temporary or permanent - before the local Bishop or his marriage tribunal (Canons 1152-
3). In order to assure living quarters and a steady financial base for one's children, it may also be necessary to
go through a civil separation, or as a last resort, a civil divorce procedure. This can be done without moral
offence (CCC 2383) if the circumstances are serious enough to necessitate it. However, the Catholic party
must be aware that it is a "legal fiction" so far as the Church is concerned. In God's eyes, the spouses are still
married. The ultimate hope and prayer must always be for reconciliation, if not in this world than in the next.

If a spouse has genuine doubts about the validity of consent given to the marriage in the first place,
s/he may contact the diocesan tribunal with a petition for nullity, once s/he have received a civil decree
absolute of divorce. The best advice is for anyone is to talk it over with their parish priest as soon as possible.



Fruitfulness: Family Planning and Fertility Treatments

"Are you ready to accept children willingly from God and bring them up according to the law of Christ
and his Church?" (Rite of Marriage)

Marriage is intended to lead to an open-ended community. We have already spoken of the miracle of
conceiving a child. Fecundity is a natural aspect of marriage, which may not be artificially excluded. A young
couple who intend to deliberately exclude having children cannot validly marry in the Catholic Church.

God is present in conjugal union as the Lord and Giver of Life. A couple have no right to exclude Him
from their sex life. Humanae Vitae §11 stated the fundamental principle that "in any use whatever of marriage
there must be no impairment of its natural capacity to procreate human life." An alternative translation
found in the CCC reads "each and every marriage act must remain ordered (per se destinatus) to the
transmission of life." (Please note this corrected translation of the 1998 Corrigenda in CCC 2366. The
previous text read "open" rather than "ordered". Not each and every marriage act can remain "open" to
procreation, for example, when the woman is past the menopause, or the husband is infertile. But the
Church does not forbid marital intercourse in these circumstances. The act is still of its own nature ordered
towards procreation.)

Note that CCC 2368 speaks of the legitimate regulation of births, in order to space the arrival of
children "for just reasons". It does not speak of a prior decision to limit the final size of one's family.

In the Creator's plan fruitfulness and love, the procreative and the unitive, have been fused together:
what God has joined let no man put asunder. To use contraception is to override the language of sexual
union, of total self-giving, with a contradictory message – 'I love you, but not your fertility. I love you but not
in your capacity as potential mother/father of a child of mine'. Sex is made shallow. It can become an
obsessive hunt for pleasure. Its mysterious creative depths are sealed off.

When using a condom, the couple never become one flesh. A millimetre of latex separates them. The
life-giving seed is given, and taken away again. The gift is destroyed. When using the contraceptive pill, the
woman may receive the semen into herself, but she has already poisoned herself against it. Either she
produces no fertile egg to unite with her husband's gift. Or if fertilisation does occur, her womb rejects the
human embryo, the fruit of their love. Her body refuses it nourishment and it dies.

This is perhaps why in FamiIiaris Consortio §32 Pope John Paul II writes:

When couples, by means of recourse to contraception, separate these two meanings that God the
Creator has inscribed in the being of man and woman and in the dynamism of their sexual communion, they
act as 'arbiters' of the divine plan and they manipulate and degrade human sexuality – and with it
themselves and their married partner – by altering the value of its 'total' self-giving.

The body language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid,
through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to
the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner
truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality.



Various couples have attested how contraception, subtly and imperceptibly at first, undermined their
mutual love. It allows and encourages a gradual closing of self to the values of life, and a concentration on
sexual pleasure.

Contraception has an ancient history. The ancient Egyptians had their women use crocodile dung as a
spermicide. The Greeks and Romans devised pharmakeia, potions from willow leaves, barrenwort, fern roots
and poplar roots, iron rust and iron slag, which were contraceptive and often produced headaches and
vomiting. Withdrawal (coitus interruptus), the sin of Onan, is punished in Gen. 38:8-10.

Throughout the Fathers and the Middle Ages the use of venena sterilitatis (poisons of sterility) and
maleficia (sterilizing magic potions) was condemned. After the reformation Luther and Calvin both stuck
rigidly to the Catholic line. The Roman Catechism (1571) taught that "it is a most grave crime for those joined
in matrimony to use medicines to impede the conceptus or to abort birth: this impious conspiracy in murders
must be extirpated." The mechanisms of fertilisation and the actions of the various potions were not
understood. There was not a clear distinction between that which was abortifacient, that which was
sterilizing, and that which was purely contraceptive.

In 1564 the Italian anatomist Fallopius published the first description of a condom, although folklore
attributed the invention to a Dr. Condom, who was alarmed at the number of illegitimate offspring of King
Charles II, and designed a suitable receptacle for His Majesty. Goodyear's discovery of the vulcanization of
rubber in 1839 was not to revolutionise only transport, but also contraception.

The birth control lobby in the 1920's and 1930's promised that contraception would lead to happier,
more stable marriages, freed from the burden of excessive child-bearing. The invention of the Pill (c.1960)
was similarly hailed. Until 1930 all Christian denominations, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant, were
convinced that artificial contraception was sinful. The laws prohibiting possession or sale of contraceptives
in the U.S., for example, were by and large Protestant laws for a Protestant people. The 1930 Lambeth
Conference fractured the unanimous Christian consensus of 19 centuries, when it grudgingly approved the
use of contraception within marriage in difficult circumstances - reversing its own solemn judgements of
1908 and 1920.

The Church of England subsequently broadened its notion of legitimate contraception in 1958, and in
1965 abandoned any absolute opposition to abortion - a move which paved the way for the 1967 Abortion
Act. In 1973 the Anglican Board for Social Responsibility backed a free national family planning service for all,
irrespective of marital status or age.

Every country which has introduced contraception has soon observed rises in illegitimacy, teenage
pregnancy and divorce, VD epidemics, and then the demand for legal abortion. Mahatma Gandhi
commented in the 1920's: "artificial methods are like putting a premium on vice . . . Nature is relentless and
will have full revenge for any such violations of her laws. Moral results can only be produced by moral

Pope Paul VI foresaw that widespread contraception would promote "marital infidelity and a general
lowering of moral standards. . . . Men - and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation - need
incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law." (HV 17)
Moreover, the birth-rate in Western Europe has now fallen below replacement level: it is by immigration and
the higher birth-rate of Muslim minorities that population levels are kept steady. Contraception and abortion



are a form of slow race suicide. Britain now has the worst family breakdown rate in Europe: hardly what the
birth control lobby promised.

The slippery slope argument:

The acceptance of contraception logically leads to the pursuit of sex for pleasure alone. The
procreative dimension is excluded. Sex becomes a pleasurable hobby between those who want fun. By
being deprived of its procreative and eternal dimension, it is devalued. By being manipulated in opposition to
the Creator's design, it is degraded. Given the "sex for pleasure alone" mentality, there is no compelling
reason why intercourse should be confined to married couples. If sex is without procreative significance,
why should not the engaged, or any couple who like each other, express their "love" by enjoying sexual
pleasure together? Contracepting married couples do not have to restrain themselves from pleasure
whenever they want: if sex is purely recreative, why should the unmarrieds?

And if sex is for pleasure alone, why should not two members of the same sex who feel attracted to
one another, be allowed to enjoy what married couples enjoy? Or a man or woman alone, by masturbation?
What objections can there be against any mutually agreed sexual practices (SM, group sex etc.) which
heighten pleasure, provided they do not harm anyone?

Many married couples who use contraception might look askance at this justification of homosexual
relations or orgiastic behaviour. But in fact, once human beings claim the right to manipulate God's gift of
sexuality - to exclude on our own initiative the procreative dimension and thus turn sex into pleasure-seeking
- then the rest follows logically.

In this respect it is significant that not a few of those theologians who protested against Humanae
Vitae in 1968, have gone on to advocate sin-free pre-marital, homosexual and masturbatory activity (e.g.
C.Curran, Kosnik, Maguire).

Levels of contraception

It is pastorally helpful to distinguish different levels of 'contraceptive commitment':

1. The condom or barrier methods are 'superficial contraception', a one-off decision each time.

2. The contraceptive pill is long term, 'profound contraception'. It becomes an integral part of lifestyle
over a long period. A couple gradually organise their marriage in such a way that children would be
an inconvenience, a curse. They prefer a new car or a foreign holiday to a baby.

The Pill is effectively a form of chemical warfare against a woman's fertility system. It is not medicine,
because medicine helps to heal the body and to restore its natural functions. The Pill has the
opposite purpose: to make the healthy female body malfunction and become barren and sterile; to
destroy natural fertility.

The usually-prescribed combined Pill (oestrogen-progestogen) works in several ways, one of which is
abortifacient. It reduces the frequency of ovulation by 50-60% (?) but does not eliminate it totally.
This is a partial chemical sterilisation. It thickens the cervical mucus to impede the penetration of
sperm into the uterus - that is the contraceptive effect proper. It also alters the lining of the uterus



(endometrium) to render it non-receptive to the implantation (nidation) of a fertilised egg. In other

words, it relies on a back-up effect of early silent abortion. If an egg should be fertilised, the embryo
cannot implant and is lost.

The Pill has more medical contra-indications and side-effects than almost any other drug freely
obtainable on the market. Does any man who genuinely loves his wife want her to risk damaging her
health so much?

3. Intra-uterine devices (IUDs or coils), implants (Norplant), contraceptive injections and the morning-
after pill (RU 486 and mifepristone) rely partially or wholly on anti-nidative effects. They prevent the
implantation of a fertilised egg by altering the endometrium, the womb lining. They therefore
partake of the malice of abortion.

Why Does The Church Allow Natural Family Planning But Not Contraception? (CCC 2370-2)

Couples are urged to be generous in handing on the gift of life. Nevertheless, there may be valid
reasons for delaying a conception or spacing births: health problems, economic difficulties or restricted
living accommodation. Ironically it is the wealthier who use contraception more, which led the German
bishops to describe it as "a disease of luxury."

The primary question for a Christian couple should be: what is God's will for us? Does He want to give
us new sons and daughters at present? This needs prayer and discernment. If God does wish to give new
life, then even to use periodic abstinence is selfish and immoral. However, if a couple feel, with a good
and prayerful conscience, that they have as many children as they can properly nourish and educate at
present, why is Natural Family Planning (NFP) permitted but contraceptives forbidden? Isn't the
intention the same in both cases?

We have seen that the morality of a human act depends upon its object, the circumstances, and the
intention of the agent. With NFP and contraception the motive (to avoid conception) and the
circumstances seem to be the same. However the object or means chosen are different, and the motive
too has a different quality. These alter the morality of the whole.

With respect to motive: contraception partakes of the contra-life will. It involves the performance of
the sexual act, deliberately deprived of one essential dimension - the possibility of a new human life
coming into being. The contracepting couple want the pleasure, but not the natural consequences of the
act, and take purposeful action to frustrate its intrinsic purpose. The contra-life sin begins beforehand, in
deliberately purchasing the condoms or pills necessary. They approach sexual intercourse already
equipped so as to frustrate unnaturally the inbuilt finality of the act. They are willing to risk destroying
the new life when it has already begun to exist, if they use anything other than purely barrier methods.

In contrast, NFP respects the life-giving potential, and refrains from the sexual act at those times of
the cycle when fertilisation is likely to occur. By limiting intercourse to the times when the woman is
infertile, NFP respects the nature of the sexual union. It does not partake of the contra-life will. Man and
woman choose not to use their sexual faculties at the time of the month when conception is likely.

The situation may be compared to that of eating. You want to nourish your body reasonably, so you
eat a moderate and healthy diet. Pleasure in your food accompanies your meals, but you eat first and



foremost to feed your body, not to tickle your palate. It is sensible to adjust your intake to meet your
needs, and so not to grow fat or starve. However if you insisted on enjoying an unreasonable excess of
culinary pleasures, you could eat to the point of gluttony, and then deliberately vomit up what you had
swallowed. Contraception is similar to this. It indulges an appetite excessively, beyond reason, and then
frustrates its natural purpose. It allows pleasure and appetite to break away from the control of reason.
It is a technical pseudo-solution to a moral and spiritual challenge: the growth in chastity and use of
one's sexual faculties in accordance with right reason.

Periodic abstinence respects and makes use of the natural cycle: the Creator has built a method of
family limitation into the human organism, via the cycle of the woman's body. The Billings and Sympto-
Thermal methods both require the couple to communicate deeply about their physiology. They foster
mutual understanding and respect. They provide training in self-restraint and encourage growth in
chastity and tenderness. All this helps to defend against temptations from outside the marriage, and is a
preparation for those times when intercourse is not possible (illness, pregnancy, work away).

"The choice of the natural rhythms involves accepting the cycle of the person, that is the woman,
and thereby accepting dialogue, reciprocal respect, shared responsibility and self-control. To accept the
cycle and to enter into dialogue means to recognise both the spiritual and corporal character of conjugal
communion, and to live personal love with its requirement of fidelity. In this context the couple comes to
experience how conjugal communion is enriched with those values of tenderness and affection which
constitute the inner soul of human sexuality, in its physical dimension also." (FC 32)

In NFP correctly used, the couple act as "ministers" (not "arbiters") of the divine plan. They benefit
from their sexual encounters, which have a truly sacramental and grace-filled significance. On the other
hand, a man who grows used to contraceptive methods may come to 'forget the reverence due to a
woman, and disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument
for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should
surround with love and affection.' (HV 17).

Contraceptive sex deliberately excludes the Giver of Life from the marital union. It therefore refuses
the refreshing sacramental grace, which normally comes with conjugal union. Because it partakes of a
contra-life will, what should be a blessing becomes instead an insult to the Creator. It no longer
strengthens and sustains the marriage sacrament. On the contrary, it will slowly corrode the marriage

The major practical disadvantage of NFP is that it produces no large profits for the drug companies.
It sets couples free from reliance on the products of the male-dominated medical-industrial complex.
Many GP’s are culpably ignorant of NFP. Lots of people associate it with the "rhythm" or "calendar"
methods of the 1930's, which were not very reliable. People usually are not informed about the more
modern, highly accurate developments. Large vested interests are at work promoting other forms of
birth control, and they depict NFP as the poor relation. It is said to be inefficient, impossible to teach to
ignorant people, and unreasonable in its demands.

None of this is true. In fact, when NFP is properly taught and used by a motivated couple it scores 98-
99% efficiency. Abstinence is necessary from 6-12 days per month. It is more reliable than the condom
(86-93%) and slightly less than the Pill (99.3%). Where the strict symptothermal method is used, in cases
where it would be dangerous for the woman to conceive, method reliability is up to 99.9%. NFP requires
self- discipline and motivation.



In Britain NFP attracts few couples apart from devout Catholics, Jews and Greens. Mother Teresa has
had great success teaching it to poor illiterate women in India. In addition, couples report that periodic
abstinence improves the whole tone of their sexual relations, just as fasting increases one’s gratitude for
and appreciation of food afterwards.

NFP promoters like the Couple-to-Couple League recommend treating the monthly abstinence as a
period in which to express love by non-genital means, like a fresh courtship. Cook him his favourite meal,
take her to her favourite concert. Be romantic for a change! Even if one of you has to sleep in the back
bedroom occasionally!

Fertility treatments: CCC 2373-79

What course of action does the catechism recommend for infertile parents?

Suppose 100 couples marry and start having intercourse. In a normal population, 25% of them will
have conceived after 1 month, 63% after 6 months, and 80-90% after 12 months. Of the remainder, 10%
would be classified as sub fertile, and 1% totally infertile.

Sadly, the British population is not normal in this regard. Sexually transmitted diseases, teenage
sleeping-around, cervical cancer, contraceptive practices and abortion have increased the sterility rate
and led to an epidemic of infertility. An estimated 16% of couples in the UK present themselves at
hospital with infertility problems. Many others do not seek help, or are not referred to hospital by their
GPs. In 25% of cases, the problem lies with the male partner, in 40% with the female. In the remaining 35%
it is a combination of both.

Various practical measures help to improve fertility: reducing stress in one's life, not wearing tight
cycling shorts or being a long-distance lorry-driver (overheating kills the sperm); strictly limiting alcohol
consumption and adjusting diet. NFP can be very valuable in helping sub-fertile couples to conceive. If
the woman learns to pinpoint the day or even the hour of ovulation, the couple can time their love-
making to maximise the chance of conception.

The Church approves those fertility treatments, which help the natural sexual act to fulfil its
procreative purpose. It does not accept as licit those techniques, which replace the sexual union by
technology. Powerful hormonal drugs which cause multiple ovulation (and maybe octuplets!) should be
used with great care. More research should be done on curing infertility properly, than in mechanizing
conception. In the USA there are now NaPro centres which combine information obtained by observing
the NFP cycles (by the Billings or Sympto-Thermal methods) with hormonal treatments or surgery as

The inability to bear children is a heavy and bitter cross for some couples, who have longed for a
family. Moreover, with widespread abortion it is difficult now to find children to adopt. Small wonder
that some couples will try anything for the chance to have a child. IVF/ET (in-vitro fertilization with
embryo transfer) offers them a 10-16% chance of success, at a high price, both emotional and financial.
IVF is now a multi-billion dollar industry.

The woman is treated with very powerful hormones, causing her to hyper-ovulate. Eggs (ova) are
removed surgically from her ovaries and mixed in a glass dish with the husband's sperm. After a couple



of days, the fertilised egg(s) are replaced in the woman's body to implant in the womb and grow. When
the first 'test-tube' baby, Louise Brown, was born in Oldham, Lancs in 1978, Pope John Paul I sent a
telegram of congratulations. A spontaneous and kind gesture. The Catholic Church has always been pro-
life and pro-fertility. One can sympathise with anything which lifts the sorrow of barrenness.

A recent more accurate technique is intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Here a chosen sperm is
injected via a microsyringe through the membrane into the ovum. As with all IVF/ET procedures,
prospective parents have to agree in advance to abortion, should the child be deformed.

Upon closer examination other moral problems emerge. Are spare embryos made and then
destroyed? This too attacks the basic right to life. How are the sperm obtained, given that masturbation
is immoral? If either sperm or ova from a third party outside the marital union are used, the child(ren)
conceived is/are genetically related to only one of the couple, and will be a continual reminder to the
other partner of his/her own impotence. This is a form of 'biological adultery'. The child may never know
who his/her own real parent was – maybe a medical student who sold sperm samples for cash?

The advent of surrogate mothers highlights the fragmentation of parenthood. A child's genetic
parents may be unrelated to its gestational mother, and different again from its nurturing parents.
Throw in a divorce, and you have step-parents and possibly foster parents too. You can acquire six types
of mother: genetic, gestational, nurturing, step-, foster-, and adoptive, and five different fathers (the
same except the gestational, although some scientists have suggested developing artificial wombs in
order to allow men to carry babies).

Now let us consider the 'ideal' case, where sperm and egg come from husband and wife, there is no
embryo destruction and no masturbation. Is it moral? We can do it; are there any reasons why we should
not? How far should science go in taking over the area of human procreation?

The Catholic Church in its Instruction on the Respect for Human Life in its Origins (Donum Vitae,
1987) judged IVF to be immoral even in the 'ideal' case. This is what the theologians and the Holy Office
found unacceptable about the technique:

IVF/ET entrusts the life, even the identity, of the human embryo – and hence the human person – into
the power of doctors and biologists. Technology comes to exercise dominion over our origin and our
destiny. Something which is sacred, precious and God-given, the coming-to-be of a new human life with
its immortal soul, is invaded and controlled by laboratory expertise. The field of human procreation is
removed from parental love-making and turned into a scientific experiment.

Every child has the right to be the fruit of an act of love between his or her parents, and not to be the
product of laboratory techniques. Otherwise the new child's life is at the mercy of the man in the white
coat; he/she has become an object under the microscope or in the pipette. However well-intentioned a
particular doctor or biologist may be, one can see the dangers in the situation.

In natural conception there is a great mystery. Out of 300 million sperm in an average ejaculation,
perhaps 150 reach the ovum, but only a single sperm enters and combines with the ovum. Is this 1 in 300
million all mere chance, or does it incorporate divine design? 'Before I formed you in the womb I knew
you, before you came to birth I consecrated you' (Jer. 1:15). None of us is an accident. Each one was a
twinkle in our heavenly Father's eye, long ago before we were conceived.



Where the scientist chooses the sperm or the ovum, he becomes master and engineer of the new
life. He usurps the place of the Creator, with whom the spouses cooperate as servants, when they are
unite in conjugal love. The Lord, who is Love, has reserved this work of creating new life for himself.
Technological man ignores this, and hearkens instead to the promise of the serpent: "You shall be like
gods." (Gen 3:5)

IVF/ET undermines the meaning and dignity of married love. It sunders the unitive aspect of
intercourse (binding man and wife together in love) from the procreative dimension (the generation of
new life). Conception no longer takes place in a loving act of spouses surrendering themselves to one
another: husband and wife, father and mother, bonded in a lifelong sacrament of love. The child's life
begins in a glass dish of nutrient salt solution, under the probes and instruments of the biologist. IVF/ET
is the inverse of contraception. For similar reasons artificial insemination, either by husband [AIH] or by
donor [AID], is also immoral.

The domination of technology over the beginnings of human life opens up a whole Pandora's box of
abuses. Not all scientists are conscientious and moral. The Church's cautious line would certasinly avoid
the horrors envisaged in Huxley's fantasy Brave New World. In this novel, the state has banned natural
parenthood. Everybody is created in reproduction factories, where embryos are cloned and
programmed into the five social classes by propaganda. To make large numbers fit for the lower classes,
their developing brains are poisoned with increasing amounts of alcohol, thus limiting their intelligence.
'Mother' and 'father' have become obscene words.

Currently we are seeing moves towards cloning and designer babies. For a price, future scientists
might offer to alter the genetic constitution to give maximum IQ, musical and linguistic abilities and
athletic prowess. IVF technology is a prerequisite for all this. Will we see the emergence of a race of rich
supermen? The motive behind IVF was originally good, but it has overstepped the mark. It has degraded
human life to the status of a laboratory object. It has opened a Pandora's box of human genetic
engineering, and we are only at the beginning of it.

The Vocation to Chastity:

The primary virtue of Jesus' teaching was charity. After charity it was chastity which most sharply
distinguished the early Christians from their heathen neighbours. Open any tabloid newspaper to see that
the modern world is obsessed by sex and its abuses. One thinker wrote: Either a society keeps control of sex,
or sex will take control of that society. If you want proof of that, look around you.

The Church too is often accused of being obsessed with sexual sin. In fact, many pulpits have been
remarkably silent on the subject for years. On the occasions when the Vatican produces a document, with
say 120 paragraphs of theology, psychology and pastoral reflection, the Press reduce it to a banner headline:
'Pope slams the Pill', or 'Pope condemns gays'. By carefully ignoring the other 119 paragraphs, the secular
media give the impression that the Church is uncaring and condemnatory. That is why it is important to read
documents like Familiaris Consortio in their full original version, not by quotation alone.
Dating: How Far Can We Go?

This is a common question from teenagers. In fact the question itself shows a wrong attitude - a type
of casuistry: what can we do without sinning seriously? A full-hearted following of Christ means that we ask:
Lord, what sort of person do you wish me to be? To be true disciples of Christ we must behave chastely.



One's actions should be directed by a pure heart, not by secret lust. The question itself is often symptomatic
of a mindset which is manipulative: how far can we exploit the pleasures of each other's bodies without
committing sin? The attitude is already unchaste.

The question is better phrased as: what gestures of affection are appropriate for dating or courting
couples? It is difficult to give exact guidelines. Members of a much older generation were told that to kiss for
longer than three seconds was a mortal sin! Whether one was allowed to resume within a minute or an hour
I am not sure. It sounds rather like the parking restriction signs.

The important point is that those who are dating should behave in such a way as not to provoke
sexual arousal of the other. That is because sexual passions once aroused have their own inner dynamic
towards intercourse. There are actually changes in brain chemistry which diminish the influence of the
rational will, when the male is aroused.

Signs of affection should reflect the true level of the relationship – holding hands, dancing, the
lighter forms of kissing. Those touches which lead to arousal of either sex – close body contact, fondling the
breasts, petting the genitals, passionate kissing, oral-genital contact – should be left to within marriage.

Sex is a body language. Other human gestures also express different levels of intimacy – the formal
handshake, the hug, the slap on the back, the continental kiss on both cheeks. For example, imagine I have
spent an hour telling you how much I hate my cousin when he suddenly walks into the room. If I stand up,
throw my arms around him and embrace him warmly, you will rightly regard me as a two-faced hypocrite. My
inner attitude and my gestures of greeting (my body language) do not correspond. The same is true of kisses
and caresses – they are a lie if the friendship is not deep. Perhaps they are engaging in mutual pleasure-
seeking, an égoisme à deux with zero commitment. In that case the couple are doing each other a disservice.

In a genuine friendship, if the erotic component is allowed to roar out of control, the couple will feel
passionately attracted to one another by physical desire. This may blot out other ways of growing to know
and respect one another. It substitutes erotic passion for genuine friendship. Couples who prematurely
engage in intercourse have then compromised their ability to make an objective judgement as to whether
they are truly suited as lifelong partners. Often they move in to live together, using contraceptives and
delaying marriage to some later date.

Sexual behaviour between engaged couples. (CCC 2350/3, 2390/1)

The time of engagement allows a couple to test whether or not their first love is built on solid
foundations. They grow to know each other, in conversation, on walks, at entertainments, with friends and
alone, through different moods and stresses. They need to get to know each other's families and to
understand their fiance(é)s background. This is all necessary if they are to choose each other with the insight
which such a vital and lifelong decision deserves. That decision should be made prayerfully, seeking God's
guidance. 'If you marry, marry in the Lord'. Good marriages are made in heaven!

Closer intimacy and caresses are allowed to an engaged couple preparing for marriage. They also
need to discuss all aspects of married life, especially attitudes towards sex and children. However, this
closeness and intimacy does not allow them to assume the rights of husband and wife.



Abstinence should be seen as a positive value. If the engaged couple are already dominated by the
need for sex, then they are compromised and not free to discern dispassionately whether or not marriage is
right for them. If you marry, marry "in the Lord" (1 Cor.7:39). Making a sacrifice of obedience to God will help
them to grow in mutual respect. In marriage, they can be more trusting and confident of each other's
faithfulness. Self-control is always a necessary virtue. A married man has to practice celibacy with respect to
all women in the world except one, however beautiful or seductive they appear, and a married woman
likewise towards all other men.

Engaged couples sometimes hope that sexual intimacy will deepen and enrich their relationship as a
whole. However, they do not achieve the good of marriage, because the definitive marital consent is lacking.
By sexual mating they have an experience of intimacy: they wish to share in the experience of intimate
communion. However, this is an illusion of marital intimacy, because it is unreal: it has not been sealed by the
irrevocable public consent of the marriage vows. If they wake up in bed one morning to realise that they do
not really know and do not particularly like the person sleeping next to them, one or other is still free to walk
away. There is always an element of uncertainty and insecurity.

Nowadays, cohabiting couples frequently present themselves for marriage when they have decided
to start a family, after a prolonged period of contraceptive sexual practice. Now contraceptive sex is not real
sex, and cohabitation is not a good preparation for marriage, because of this absence of a definitive
commitment. The old habit of keeping an eye open for a more pleasing partner continues: each watches the
open door, to escape if necessary. "Trial marriages" have notoriously short shelf lives: 18 months on
average, 10 years as a usual maximum. Studies in Sweden and Britain have demonstrated, contrary to what
one might at first expect, that couples who marry after a "trial marriage" are less likely to stick together,
than those who begin living together only from their wedding day.

Basically, you can't experiment at marriage. Any sexual relationship leaves a deep trace in the
personality. A man or woman may have more difficulty, not less, at adjusting to a new partner after one or
several "trial relationships". They will be unconsciously making comparisons with previous partners.
Jealousies and insecurities arise. Am I as good in bed as his previous girlfriend? It can become a performance-
related competition, rather than accepting the other person in his/her irreplaceable uniqueness as one’s
chosen lifelong love.

Some argue in favour of "free unions". "We don't need a piece of paper to prove that we love one
another." Indeed, only since Trent (1562) have Catholics been obliged to contract marriage publicly.
Previously marriage vows exchanged in private sufficed, although they were disapproved of. Experience
showed that many such "clandestine marriages" broke up, and the wife or children had no redress against
the man. He simply denied ever contracting the marriage, and there was no proof. Chronic pastoral
problems led the Church to insist upon the public celebration of the mariage union.

Sexuality and marriage involve such vital goods - the procreation and education of children - that
society has a right to know who is married to whom, and who is responsible. Even the Bolsheviks, who
introduced "free love" in Russia after the Revolution, abandoned the idea within five years, when hundreds
of thousands of abandoned children littered the streets. They suddenly became very conservative in their
sexual ethics.




Fornication (CCC 2353) is repeatedly listed as one of the sins which exclude us from the Kingdom of
Heaven (1 Cor 6:9; Gal.5:19; Rev. 21:8 & 22:15). It imperils our final end, beatitude.

Fornication is often either masturbatory or manipulative. In the first case, one or both partners is
merely using the other as an instrument for his/her own sexual pleasure. In the second case one or other is
be using his/her body as an instrument, giving his/her partner pleasure in the hope of obtaining something
s/he wants from him/her.

This is possible because the sex act of itself can have many different meanings. Self-giving love is
only one of them. It can be done out of curiosity: 'I want to find out what it's like. Is he potent? Is she fertile?'
It can be done in order to gain social acceptability, to be 'one of the lads'. It can be used as an insurance: 'I
want to find out what he's like in bed before I marry him'. It can be demanded as a proof of love: 'I'll only
believe you love me if we have sex together'. It can be used to trap someone into marriage or blackmail. It
can express domination and cruelty. It can even be used as a bribe in order to get a new washing machine! In
prostitution it is used to earn money ; a man pays a prostitute for sex so that she will not be there the next
day! He doesn't want her as part of his normal life, well, not while his wife's around.

Sex can be sought as a cure-all for personal hang-ups: to prove one is not impotent or unattractive;
to escape loneliness and find a grain of affection; to prove one is a "real" man or woman and bolster one's
ego; as a remedy for angst.

Morally fornication is intrinsically dishonest, a type of lie. With the language of their bodies the
partners are proclaiming total and lifelong love. Yet they have made no covenant of union. Very likely, the
commitment of one partner is much less than that of the other. Often the man has invested less emotional
capital in the relationship, and is more interested in pleasure; the woman meanwhile longs for a deeper,
permanent relationship. And she often suffers the consequences. many young couples find to their cost that
non-marital sexual intimacy obstructs friendship rather than nurturing it.

Fornicators seek intimacy in bodily union, but it is an illusion, because they have not sealed any
definitive consent with the marriage promise. Habitual fornication and promiscuity are a fount of sexual
inequality and exploitation. They poison relationships between the sexes, lead to sexual hatred and greater
oppression of women. Fornication is also an act of injustice against a child who may be conceived. The use of
contraceptives merely makes explicit the lie implicitly present already: 'I fancy you, sure, but I don't want any
long-term consequences, I don't want you as a lifelong partner'.

Offences against chastity (CCC 2351-56)

Vital human goods are involved in sexuality: procreation and the stability of the marital bond.
Therefore all sexual actions which are not ordered to these ends are considered gravely sinful by the
Magisterium. The Church well knows what a powerful force the sexual instinct can be, and how much
suffering is caused by its irresponsible abuse. If the Church seems strict, we need only remember the words
of her Lord: "Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
Until this century, there was common consensus between Catholic and Protestant denominations on these



Masturbation uses the sexual powers for pleasure alone, like toys, in a way never intended by God. It
is also referred to as self-abuse, impurity, ipsation (from Latin ipse - oneself) or auto-eroticism. As
"uncleanness" it is condemned in Eph.5:5 and Gal.5:19. Masturbation instrumentalises the body and
effectively is making love to oneself. It can lead to introversion and self-preoccupation. Psychologists note
an element of narcissism, of turning in on oneself in the use of those sexual powers which should be directed
beyond oneself. Masturbation can foster a selfish attitude which regards other persons as instruments for
sexual self-gratification. Statistically, masturbation is very common, especially in adolescence, but that does
not make it right. Statistics do not create right or wrong. If 90% of the population has racist attitudes, that
does not make racism morally acceptable.

Masturbation is usually performed along with some fantasy of a partner with whom sexual
inclination would be more adequately satisfied. Thus it turns another's body into a sex object, as well as
one's own. It predisposes masturbators to use their partner's bodies as sex aids. But sexual intercourse
cannot be a communion of persons if it is little more than the juxtaposition of instruments (bodies) used by
two isolated subjects in order to reach their individual enjoyable sensations. Therefore masturbation is
essentially a social sin against interpersonal communion.

A person who treats sensual satisfaction as the basic good, is less likely to exercise self-mastery in
the use of alcohol, drugs, food, play activities etc. Habitually hunting for sense pleasure, one is more inclined
to treat others as either tools or obstacles along the way to obtaining personal satisfaction. Uncontrolled
masturbation is likely to predispose a person to other socially destructive sexual sins: adultery, fornication
and sodomy. No doubt it plays a part in fuelling the fantasies of rapists and paedophiles too.

"The sexual appetite is active and powerful through a long period of one's life, and so sexual sins are
likely to become habits. Satisfying the appetite intensifies it; sex is very habit-forming. To try sex, focusing on
the enjoyable experience itself, is to like it and to want more of it. As time goes on, satisfying this habit, like a
drug habit, demands more intense and fresh sexual stimuli. That is why the masturbatory element in sexual
intercourse always demands new partners and new thrills, and is the implacable foe of fidelity and normal
heterosexual intercourse." (G.Grisez, op.cit. pp.665)

Growing up in a sexualized and degraded culture makes it very difficult to preserve chastity in
thought, word and deed. Nevertheless it is every Christian's duty to make serious efforts to lead a life
pleasing to God. One useful rule is 'resist the beginnings' (obsta principiis). Divert the mind at once from
immoral fantasies. . Let good and creative interests drive out the bad.

Youngsters need the help of prayer and the sacraments, and the support of good parents, teachers
and friends. A Christian must sincerely try to overcome such a habit and to avoid those occasions which
provoke sexual arousal (especially in the media and at dances and entertainments). Frequent Confession and
Holy Communion are great helps.

To entertain fantasies about immoral acts of any kind deliberately is sinful, and can be gravely sinful.
Someone who abandons him/herself to lust and pornography, and makes little or no effort to overcome it, is
likely to be in mortal sin and to sink deeper into it. Sin is conceived in the heart before it is acted out in
reality. It is no surprise that the dismantling of censorship of pornography has been accompanied by an
alarming rise in the number of sexual attacks against women and children. The permissive society permits
no-one to feel safe from the unleashed dark powers of the human psyche.



Pornography builds a fantasy world of unreal expectations. One's real spouse is not probably not
going to look like a film star and behave in bed like some sexual super athlete. A real relationship and real sex
will prove disappointing to the individual whose fantasy life has been poisoned by pornography. Never
satisfied by reality, he/she will be ever on the lookout for someone more attractive and something more

Homosexuality and "gay rights" (CCC 2357-59)

Firstly we need to distinguish between the homosexual condition which affects some 1-2% of the
population, and homosexual acts. Many homosexually inclined persons just find themselves that way. It is
not something which they have chosen for themselves. Sometimes they very much wish that they were

The genesis of homosexuality is not clearly understood. Depth psychology researches suggest that a
weak relationship with the same-sex parent often plays a role. The search for intimacy with a member of the
same sex is driven by this developmental deficit (E. Moberley) Lack of acceptance by one's peers as an
adolescent might also produce this same effect - a feeling of being inadequate as a male, for example.
However it may also be acquired behaviour, if the sexual orientation is somewhat plastic and seeks to repeat
adolescent erotic same-sex experimentation.

The moral evaluation of homosexual acts must begin from the nature of human sexuality. We have
seen that in God's plan (Gen. 1:27-8; 2:18-25) this is ordered towards heterosexual union and procreation.
Genital sexual acts find their place within heterosexual conjugal communion, and nowhere else. There is a
complementarity between male and female, physically, psychologically and spiritually, which is not there in
homosexual relations. Marital union has openness to new life, which is impossible in homosexual bonding.
The latter is doomed to sterility from its outset.

Moreover the sexual acts of two members of the same sex can consist only of mutual masturbation,
or a parody of conjugal love by anal or oral sex. The former in particular (sodomy) is both unsanitary and
physiologically dangerous.

"It is no surprise that, as the practice of contraception becomes increasingly widespread, the
incidence of homosexuality would increase massively. . . Any argument in favour of contraception is in
principle an argument for [homosexuality and bestiality] . . . Seal off the penis or the vagina so that the
sperm cannot fertilize the egg, and it becomes immediately evident that the vagina need not be the only
orifice for sexual intercourse, nor the penis the only instrument. . . The emergence of homosexuality as a
socially vigorous phenomenon can be correctly evaluated only within the context of the contraceptive
society. Homosexuality is, after all, the ultimate in sterile sexual acts that can be performed between two
human beings. It carries to its logical conclusion the self-centred demand for personal gratification which
characterizes contraception." Dr. R. Dennehy, Christian Married Love, 1981

The years since the Woolfenden report enacted in law (1968) and Norman Pittenger's Time for
Consent (SCM 1970) have seen a large-scale reversal of public opinion in Great Britain on this subject.
Reformed and Methodist denominations have by and large followed the secular approval of homosexual
relations. The Anglican Communion is internally divided on the issue. The Catholic and Orthodox Churches
officially keep to the ancient teaching, although many individual Catholics dissent from this line.



Scripture never mentions homosexual acts except in condemnatory terms. Those who wish to
approve homosexual acts therefore must needs justify them by one of the following propositions:

1. Scripture is not the inspired word of God and we need not take it seriously.
2. These particular passages of Scripture were time-conditioned by the social conditions of the era, and
are not universally binding - indeed, they are inappropriate for our day.
3. The ancients did not understand the psychology of homosexuality. They were condemning
heterosexuals who perform homosexual acts, or homosexuality in the context of an idolatrous
pagan cult, or rape. Such condemnations are not valid for constitutional homosexuals who wish to
express their natural genital love for a same-sex partner (see for example J.J.McNeil, The Church and
the Homosexual, 1976. Other authors holding this or a similar line were Kosnik, Baum, Maguire,
Curran, Dedek, Keane)

These arguments were rejected by the Magisterium (Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons 1986).
The sexual complementarity of male-female relationships described in Genesis as part of the Creator's
purpose, is lacking in homosexual liaisons. Therefore both the unitive and the procreative dimensions of
marital sexuality are absent.

"It is only in the marriage relationship that the use of the sexual faculty can be morally good. A
person engaging in homosexual behaviour, therefore, acts immorally. To choose someone of the same sex
for one's sexual activity is to annul the rich symbolism and meaning, not to mention the goals, of the
Creator's sexual design." (PCHP 7)

Until 1973 homosexuality was listed as a psychopathology on the register of the American Psychiatric
Association. From 1970, at their annual convention, the psychologists were subjected to militant gay protests
and picketing. At the 1973 meeting they voted to remove homosexuality from their list of
psychopathologies, not on the grounds of any new scientific or medical evidence. They did not wish to seem
to be aiding and abetting unfair discrimination; primarily they made a political decision to appease the gay
lobby. In fact, several of the world leaders in the treatment and therapy of homosexually-oriented persons
protested at this disregard for clinical expertise. However, they did agree that homosexuality was more
accurately described as a psychosexual development abnormality, and not as a mental illness.

Once homosexuality had been "normalised" in the public mind by the decision of the APA, civil
legislation and many national associations of psychiatrists and psychologists followed suit. Campaigns took
off to win "gay rights" across the entire social spectrum.

Here it is helpful to distinguish between "homosexual" and "gay". The former does not broadcast
his/her sexual orientation, and has long been admitted to any level in society. Many turn a blind eye to
discreet conduct in private. On the other hand, militant "gays" noisily demand public acceptance of their
sexual lifestyle as equivalent to heterosexuality. Moreover, when somebody "comes out" as "gay", he/she is
identifying him/herself by sexual orientation: basically s/he is asserting - "My sex drive is me, it is the most
significant fact about me."

Fr. J. F. Harvey, founder of the organization Courage which supports homosexual Catholics in living a
chaste life, has counselled homosexuals for over thirty years. He makes the following points:

1. Very few "gay unions" are permanent, and even fewer are faithful. There may be "emotional
exclusivity" but "sexual exclusivity" is rare. Commonly one or both partners perform sex acts with



outside pick-ups. The homosexual lifestyle finds a common focus in the "ultimate commitment to
unrestricted personal sexual freedom."

2. "In thirty-two years of counselling homosexual persons, I have yet to meet a practising homosexual
person who could be called "gay" in the sense of joyful. . . . The unhappiness of so many so-called gay
persons is rooted in their mania for sexual pleasure, coupled with their unwillingness to accept
responsibility." (The Homosexual Person p.103)

3. One should respect the homosexual person, allowing him all the rights of any other citizen, but
denying him unrestricted sexual freedom and rejecting his claim to the right to teach the young that
such a lifestyle is morally acceptable.

4. Reorientation therapy is moderately successful with many, but not all, homosexuals. The scientific
literature has many examples of psychotherapeutic and religiously mediated change. NARTH
(National Association for research and Therapy of Homosexuals) conducted a survey of 850
individuals and 200 therapists: at the beginning of therapy, 68% of clients were exclusively
homosexual, 22% predominantly so. The other 10% were presumably bisexual. By the end, 13% were
exclusively homosexual, 33% exclusively heterosexual. Between 1/3 and 1/2 had adopted primarily
heterosexual orientation. We see here a spectrum between exclusive homosexuality and
heterosexuality at either extreme, with varying grades of bisexuality in between.

Another recent paper by MacIntosh (J. Am. Psychoanalytic. Assoc. 42.4) corroborates these results.
In a survey of 1215 homosexual patients, 85% reported significant increase in wellbeing after therapy, and 23%
a full transition to heterosexuality.

Christian therapists like Leanne Payne, Andrew Comiskey and Dr William Consiglio combine prayer
and psychology in their treatment of homosexuality, with remarkable results.





Commands us to practice “Filial Love”

A. Fulfilment

 It is God’s will that after Him, we should honor our parents, to whom we owe life and have
handed to us the knowledge of God.
 Honor and respect those vested with God given authority.
 Kinship should be established with members of extended family.
 Honor, affection gratitude towards elders and ancestors should be observed.
 Duties of parents, children, teachers, employers and both civil and church leaders must be
observed and respected.

B. True Meaning

 It is the obligation of grown children to take care of their observed aged parents (Sir. 3:12) .
 Human life of parents are not to be evaluated in terms of productivity.
 Both parents are to receive equal respect. .
 Children must uphold Filipino cultural values of respect

C. Obstacles (in the Philippine setting)

 Not all parents are “loving parents”.

 Existence of pains of “growing up”.
 Generation gap.

D. Respect for Parents

 Revering them as holding God’s place.

 Accepting corrections willingly.
 Excusing and hiding their faults.

E. Duties of Parents

 Educating their children as preparation for their future.

 Provide temporal, physical, especially spiritual welfare.
 Uphold moral values.

F. Violations

 Disrespect
 Unkindness
 Disobedience (minors need to follow obey their parents wishes as long as it is not immoral;
adult children should listen to parent’s advice though obedience is not absolute anymore).





 Both commandments are concerned with the proper use of human sexuality and upholding one’s
 They command us to be pure and modest in our external behavior.
 It is concerned with those who are already practicing illicit sexual activities to have self-respect.
 It forbids all impurities and immodesty in words, looks and actions whether alone or with others.


 Commands us to be pure and modest in thought and in desire according to chastity and one’s state
in life.
 Concerned with those who desire sexual impurities in thoughts and internal willful behavior and
obliges us to protect family life.

Biblical Basis:
1) I Cor. 6:13
2) I Cor. 6:19-20
3) I Peter 2:11
4) I Matt. 26:41
5) Matt. 5:27-28
6) Matt. 5:80


 Affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul.
 Concerns affectivity capacity to love and procreate.
 In a general way, it is also concerned with forming bonds of communion with others.
 It is a sacred act between a man and a woman for mutual love for the benefit of being husband and
wife and the begetting and proper upbringing of children within the Sacrament of Matrimony.

Terms used in Human Sexuality

1. Sex – common biological instinct among men and animals for procreative reasons.
2. Eros – romantic sexual intimacy
3. Agape – common among men and angels and similar to God’s love for us.

Understanding Love

 It is the union with another being, happiness resulting to the union once it is achieved.
 It is the giving of oneself to another in a relationship that seeks the welfare of the other and not
one’s own self-interests.
 It is sacrificing oneself for the benefit of the loved one and the highest expression is through human

1. Forms of Human Love:

a. a. Physical love – physical attraction based.

b. b. Emotional love – character based
c. c. Intellectual love – personality based
d. d. Supernatural love – divinely based

2. Elements of Love

a. Care
b. Responsibility
c. Respect
d. Knowledge and Understanding

3. Kinds of Love:

a. Love of Desire

 Physical, romantic, infatuation, emotional, self-seeking, selfish stimulated physiologically to a

great degree, by the physical presence or attributes of the object loved.
 Erotic love (amor concupiscientiae)

b. Love of Benevolence

 When love is disinterested, self-giving, self-sacrificing which is also called spiritual love.
 Its main thrust is to do good and to work for the welfare or happiness of our loved ones.
 Platonic love (love between friends)

c. Agape or Charity

 It is the highest form of love since one cares for his or her neighbors or fellowmen because of
one’s faith in God Who is our last end.


a. Holy Purity

 Virtue that properly regulates the use of our sexual activities according to our state in life,
either married or single, and prohibits their exercise outside the married state; it is as known
as chastity.

b. Modesty

 The virtue that inclines one to refrain from what may lead to impure sexual pleasure and is
known as the safeguard of purity.



 It inclines us to guard our senses and behavior so as to avoid possible temptations or

whatever may incite others to sin and causes us to be proper and decent in dress and

c. Temperance

 Virtue that helps control evil desires and to use rightly the things which please our senses.

d. Decency

 Virtue which makes us respectable, honorable and worthy in speech, actions and

e. Continence

 A deeper form of chastity which in practice preserves the mind from impure thought and
desires and restrains the will from actions following aroused sexual desires.
 It is known as voluntary abstinence in marriage, refraining from marital intercourse; and
absolute abstinence for those unmarried, obliging all who are outside the state of marriage.

Offenses and Violations

I. Sexual Offenses:
a) Lust
b) Fornication
c) Prostitution
d) Masturbation
e) Contraception
f) Pornography
g) Rape
h) Homosexual acts
i) Sodomy
j) Indecency
k) Artificial Insemination
l) Sexual Deviations

A List of Sexual Deviations

a. Bestiality
b. Exhibitionism
c. Narcissism
d. Voyeurism
e. Sadism
f. Masochism
g. Fetishism
h. Transvetism
i. Wife Swapping
j. Sex Orgies



k. Pedophilia
l. Pederasty
m. Pygmalionism
n. Cannibalism and Vampirism
o. Nymphomania
p. Satyriasis
q. Lesbianism
r. Bisexualism
s. Uranism
t. Coprophilia
u. Necrophilia
v. Trilogism
w. Autophagism
x. Zoophilia
y. Cunnilingus
z. Fellatio

II. Against Marriage

1. Adultery or Marital Infidelity – sexual relations between a married and an unmarried person or
between two married persons who are not mutually husband and wife.
2. Divorce – breaking the marriage bond or vows between two validly married persons according to the
Sacrament of Matrimony.
3. Incest – intimate sexual relations between relatives or in-laws, especially with the children.
4. “Live-Ins”, Free Unions” or “Trial Marriages” – couples living commonly as husband and wife without
the benefit of marriage or commitments.
5. Bigamy – having married two wives.
6. Polygamy – marrying more than two wives.
7. Polyandry – woman marrying several men.
8. Civil Marriage – illicit and invalid marriage in the eyes of God and of the Church, since it is done only
as a legal contract and not as a Sacrament, though may be valid and binding in the eyes of the Law.





'You shall not kill.' (Exod. 20:13)

The right to human life is the most fundamental human right. It is the pre-requisite for all other
rights. Unless it is scrupulously guarded by society, nobody is safe, and all other human rights are in
jeopardy. Totalitarian regimes control their subjects by means of the secret police knocking at the door at 3

Christian ethics promotes a culture of life, and opposes a "culture of death". Life is a divine gift and
must be respected as such. Sadly the loss of the sense of the Fatherhood of God brings in its train the
trampling-down of the universal brotherhood of man. One ought to not annihilate life, but to protect it. One
should not manipulate life, but enhance it. One must not damage life, but improve it.

Nevertheless biological human life is not the ultimate value. It is a fundamental good, an immense
good, but it is not the only good, nor is it an absolute good because man is a being-for-eternity. By
martyrdom and self-sacrifice in some noble cause, men bear witness to the fact that there exist values
greater than physical life itself: love, truth, faith, justice. Many in history have chosen to die fighting, rather
than endure defeat, his honour or slavery. Everybody at some point must face death. What does it profit a
Christian who renounces his faith under persecution in order to save his life, but loses his very soul by his
apostasy? Therefore we speak of human life as a penultimate, not the ultimate, reality.

When we speak of the sanctity of human life, therefore, we speak of it in this context, as a gift from
God. Man is the steward of his bodily life and health, not the owner. We do not have total dominion over our
own lives or even our own bodies. We are obliged to care for our physical and mental health, and to restore
injured health if possible in a responsible way. (CCC 2288-90) We must each one day render account to God
for the way in which we have treated our bodies and minds and those of others.

On Legitimate Defence and Homicide

"I confirm that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely
immoral" (EV 57) is Pope John Paul's infallibly taught statement about homicide. Note however the carefully
drawn qualifications: it leaves open the question of killing the guilty, and it excludes situations where a killing
was indirect or involuntary.

This corresponds to the Hebrew text of the Decalogue. The Fifth Commandment lô tirsach uses the
less common Hebrew verb rasach which denotes unjust killing, murder or assassination of a personal enemy
outside the law and against the community. Two other verbs, harag and hemit are used to describe killing in
a political struggle or war, capital punishment or divine punishment.

Traditionally therefore there are several exceptions to "Thou shalt not kill unjustly". The OT prescribed
capital punishment for certain serious crimes (Num. 35:16-21; Lev. 20:27 & 24:17; Ex.21:12-17,29; 22:18-19) and
allowed for killing in war. Killing in self-defence was also permitted. Human sacrifice was forbidden, although



surrounding tribes practised child sacrifice. The commandment never applied to animals. Additionally a
person Like Samson might sacrifice himself for a noble cause, in battle or to save his people.

Catholic theology also countenances tyrannicide, the killing of a tyrant, in extremis under very tightly
drawn criteria - the von Stauffenburg plot to assassinate Hitler at the Wolf's Lair in 1944 is a probably
justified example.

On Capital punishment

After the Flood, God said to Noah: "Whoever sheds the blood of man; by man shall his blood be
shed, for God made man in his own image." (Gen. 8:6)

Punishment for criminal offences should normally be:

1. Vindicative or retributive - it pays back to the objective moral order for the violation committed. This
is not a matter of revenge, but of underlining the paramount importance of moral good and danger
of moral evil in society. It assures the victim of the crime that justice has been done, and that the
offender has paid for his wicked actions.

2. Deterrent or educative - it dissuades others from committing the same offence. Punishment has an
educative role in the wider community. It helps to maintain law and order by weighting the balance
against evil-doers. If a particular crime goes unpunished, more people are tempted to risk
committing it, because they see that apparently, crime does pay. Injustice flourishes uncorrected and
the weak and innocent suffer greatly.

3. Medicinal and expiatory - if possible, it should encourage the conversion and reformation of the
offender him/her-self. By his willingly accepting to suffer a just punishment, he atones for his fault.

4. Protective - The burglar behind bars cannot break into old people's homes any more. The serial killer
in his prison cell cannot stalk the streets. Society is protected from additional crimes by habitual or
psychopathic criminals,

Capital punishment is certainly vindicative. It underlines the seriousness of grave crimes as perhaps
no other penalty can. Where it is widely used it appears to have a strong deterrent effect, although certainty
of detection is highly effective too. It can hardly be medicinal, though it is expiatory if accepted as just
punishment. It is certainly protective. It also requires the courts and the police to be impeccably honest: the
quashing of several recent convictions concerning terrorist offences in the UK courts has revealed the use of
fabricated or suppressed evidence and confessions exacted by torture.

St. Thomas Aquinas argued that the death penalty does not deprive the criminal of the right to life.
By murdering another human being, the killer has lowered himself to the level of a beast. Thus, by his own
free choice in shedding innocent blood, knowing the due penalty for this crime, he deprives himself of the
right to life. The State executes the consequences of the decision the murderer himself made. It does not
deprive him of the right to life.

Aquinas also used the analogy of a diseased limb. For the health of the whole body, one amputates a
gangrenous arm. So it is with the murderer: in order to save the moral health of society, one excises him like



a cancerous limb. The common good of all is more important than the common good of one pernicious

However, is it not better to eradicate the evil will of the murderer, by bringing him to repentance,
than by slaying the person? The Law of Moses (lex talionis) allowed "an eye for an eye", but Jesus radicalised
the fifth commandment: "But I say this to you: Do not be angry with your brother. . ." (Mt 5:19). Shouldn't
Christians try to act mercifully, rather than merely justly? Or may one wholeheartedly accept this in one's
personal behaviour, but still maintain that in the juridical sphere the State needs to exact justice? One can
reasonably argue that the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:38-42) was not intended to apply to political bodies?

Church tradition has generally supported the validity of the death penalty for serious crimes: not as it
was used in Britain for sheep-stealing and poaching the royal deer. Pius XII re-iterated that the State could
without sin exact the death penalty for grave crimes. John Paul II appears to be actively pushing the
tradition forwards towards a position, which recognises the licitness of the death penalty in theory, but
deems it undesirable in practice because modern states have effective prison-systems. No doubt in wartime
and communist Poland, he saw countless abuses of the death penalty.

Christians are caught in a dilemma. "Love your enemy" taught Jesus. So if a murderer is penitent,
why hang him? Why not let him reform and make some useful contribution to society? If he is impenitent, we
do not want to execute him and send him straight to hell. Love demands that for the sake of his immortal
soul, we afford him time to repent and be saved. God did not exact the death penalty from Cain for his
murder of Abel his brother. Instead he was punished with perpetual banishment (Gen. 4:11-16).

The status and rights of the human embryo and fetus

 24 hours after the sperm head enters the ovum, the two nuclei fuse giving 46 chromosomes and a
unique human genotype (genetic make-up) for the new life.
 At 30 hours mitosis (cellular division) begins.
 By 72 hours the bundle of cells is referred to as a morula, from the Latin for blackberry.
 As a hollow sphere, one layer of cells thick, the conceptus is now called a blastocyst. It travels down
the Fallopian tube in order to make contact with the uterine wall (6-7 days) and during the next few
days implants there (nidation).
 Between 4-14 days there is the possibility of twinning or of the recombination of twins.
 At 14-21 days the "primitive streak" is visible under microscopy, as the foundations for brain, spinal
cord and nervous system are laid down. Blood cell manufacture begins at 17 days, a primitive heart is
forming at 18 days and begins to beat at 21 days, beating regularly and smoothly at 30 days.
 Up to 18 days, the human being grows more rapidly than at any other time in the whole of its life. It
has a miraculous power of growth, organisation and differentiation. Nathanson calls this "the vector
of life". If the new human being were to grow at this same rate throughout pregnancy, it would
weigh 12.7 tonnes at birth.
 At 28 days it measures 1/4 inch, 10,000 times larger than at conception. Brain and central nervous
system formed. Cerebral cortex develops.
 At 35 days the primitive skeleton is complete. Stomach, liver and kidneys are all functioning. Arms,
hands and finger outline is visible. hearing apparatus is complete.
 40-42 days: ECG (electro-encephalogram) can pick up brain waves. Possibility of consciousness and
feeling pain.
 60 days: kicking, waving arms, somersaulting. Some inherited characteristics visible.

 3 months from conception: facial expressions similar to those of parents. Responsive to taste. Sex
organs visible.
 14-16 weeks: "quickening" - the mother begins to feel the child moving around in her womb.
 5 months: the child has grown to 12 “and weighs about 1 lb. It can recognise its parents' voices, but
its heart speeds up at strange or sudden sounds.
 22 weeks is the earliest recorded survival of a premature baby. This point is therefore defined as
viability. By 24 weeks the majority of premature babies survive, given intensive care in an incubator.

The foetus is distinct from the mother, although he/she is dependent on her. It has its own genetic
make-up and blood group. There is no intermingling of blood. Carbon dioxide, oxygen, nutrients and waste
are exchanged across the placenta membranes.

The Anglican church called the foetus "a potential human being." But it is much more than that. It is
"a human being with potential." (RC Archbishops of E & W, 1985). There is the world of a difference between
these two phrases.

Is the fetus a human person?

Dictionaries define the term person to mean "a rational or self-conscious individual", "a personality, a
human being, . . a capacity in which one is acting, . . bodily presence or action, . . a hypostasis of the
Godhead." Some maintain that the foetus is not a person because it is not conscious and it cannot form
meaningful relationships.

This raises several questions. Can one be a human being without being a human person? Is
personhood something intrinsic to the human being, or something acquired at a certain level of
development e.g. the ability to form meaningful relationships?

The word "person" has an intriguing legal history. It has been used on a number of occasions to
deprive particular groups of human beings of the protection of the law, thus depriving them of their basic
human rights. In 1857 the U.S. Supreme Court declared that black people are not legal persons: they were
the property of their owners, who might buy, sell, torture or even kill them. Free blacks "had no rights which
the white man was bound to respect; and that the negroe (sic) might justly and lawfully be reduced to
slavery for his benefit." (Dred Scott vs Sandford)

In 1936 the German Supreme Court, the Reichsgericht, refused to recognise Jews living in Germany
as persons in the legal sense.

"The notion that certain classes of persons are non-persons is a not uncommon opinion. The Canada
Indian Act 1880 states that "the term person means an individual other than an Indian". In the Canada
Franchise Act 1885, we learn that "[a person] is a male person, including an Indian and excluding a person of
Mongolian or Chinese Race." Here is progress; in only five years Indians were upgraded to personhood and
Asians are called persons in the very clause denying them personhood. By 1925, Canadian legislation had
determined that all races-and-women are persons." (John I. Fleming, What rights, if any, do the unborn
have under international law?, Australian Bar review 1997, available on

Hence the argument about personhood is sometimes used as a smoke-screen to deny the humanity
of the foetus. In 1973 the U.S. Supreme Court (Roe vs Wade) ruled that the unborn are not persons in the



legal sense. Thus they have no civil or human rights. "The word 'person', as used in the Fourteenth
Amendment, does not include the unborn." (Justice Harry Blackmun). Incidentally, the U.S. Supreme Court
has reversed its own decisions some 100 times, which demonstrates that the law is not always right.

The Church has not dogmatically defined the moment of animation of the human embryo or foetus.
However, the embryo must still be accorded full human rights. The situation is analogous to that of a
contractor wanting to demolish a large building. If there is a possibility that there is a human being inside,
the demolisher must first make absolutely sure that the building is empty. Otherwise, if he kills someone, he
will be guilty of at least manslaughter. So with abortion: unless the abortionist can prove with certainty that
there is no human being there, he cannot morally proceed to kill the embryo. In fact, most of the scientific
evidence leads to the conclusion that a human being is definitely present.

The answer to the question "When did your life begin?" is not "birth" but "fertilization." Whoever
supports abortion can be challenged: "If you think abortion's good for other people, it would have been
good enough for you. It's a pity your mother didn't have one."

From the moment of conception, life must be guarded with the greatest care. The right to life is the
foundation and pre-requisite for all other human rights. All human beings are equal before God. Any
deliberate medical procedure, the purpose of which is to deprive a foetus or embryo of life, is immoral.

"I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation.
We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the
tormentor, never the tormented." (Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor)

Nor is it licit to experiment on any human being except for the therapeutic benefit of that individual.
Experimentation can only be done for the benefit of others by the free and informed consent of the person
being experimented on.

The mutilation of the human body (e.g. female circumcision) is immoral. Bodily integrity must be
preserved. However, by the “principle of totality”, a part may be sacrificed in order to save the whole: thus,
a limb may be amputated to prevent the spread of gangrene or cancer, or to rescue someone trapped in a
burning car that would otherwise perish.

A doctor or surgeon has rights delegated to him/her by a patient. The physician needs the consent of
the patient before he/she starts treatment. 'As a private person the doctor can take no measure or try no
course of action without the consent of his patient. The doctor has no rights or power over the patient other
than those which the latter gives him explicitly or implicitly and tacitly' (Pope Pius XII).

When a patient visits his doctor, as far as ordinary medical treatment goes, this consent is usually
implicit. In emergencies, it is generally presumed for unconscious, disturbed or psychiatric patients. The next
of kin give consent when the patient is not competent: parents or guardians in the case of minors. The
patient does have the right to refuse treatment on medical or religious grounds. So too the doctor has a
conscientious right to refuse to cooperate in treatments he finds morally objectionable: abortion,
sterilisation, contraception, unnecessary cosmetic surgery, punitive mutilation, even capital punishment or
corporal punishment.



Euthanasia – Disthanasia – Benemortasia (CCC 2276-2279)

Consider the following case studies:

1. An elderly lady, Doris, has been on kidney dialysis for ten years. Her health is failing generally. Some
months ago she had to be hospitalised. She is tired and worn out. She wonders about asking to
discontinue the dialysis. She has made her peace with God and feels ready to die, but she is worried
whether discontinuing dialysis treatment would be equivalent to committing suicide. What advice
can you give her?
2. A baby, Jennifer, is born with Down's Syndrome and intestinal blockage (duodenal atresia). A simple
operation will allow her to survive. Otherwise she will die if nature is left to take its course. Is the
doctor right to refuse surgery? A recent editorial in the British Medical Journal urges upon
paediatricians the desirability of sedating the baby in such a case. What would be the moral course of
3. John is dying of lung cancer. He is in intense pain. He says he is a Catholic, but he does not want to
see the priest – God's never done anything for him, he says, why should he bother now? He is given
narcotics to control the pain level. Should he be given such drugs even when they may slightly
shorten his lifespan? Should he be given painkillers to the level of rendering him unconscious and
painfree? Should he be quickly put out of his misery?
4. Bertha is 90 years old, living in a geriatric hospital. She can no longer take food by mouth. She suffers
severe senile dementia. She is being fed by an intravenous drip and a naso-gastric tube. She is also
suffering from gangrene, diabetes, arteriosclerotic heart disease and urinary tract infection. She is
confined to bed, but not diagnosed as terminally ill. She keeps pulling out the feeding tubes because
they annoy her. What should the nurses do?

Now define the three main terms in this discussion and to apply them to these four practical cases:

EUTHANASIA – “An act or omission which of itself or by intention causes death, in order that all
suffering may in this way be eliminated.” (JB) It is often called 'mercy-killing'. Groups like EXIT campaign to
legalise voluntary euthanasia. Some of their supporters have stated publicly, that once public opinion has
accepted voluntary euthanasia, 'it should be possible to move on further'.

The euthanasiast might advocate that Doris (case 1) could be treated by passive euthanasia (ceasing
dialysis), perhaps combined with more active measures (a lethal dose of diamorphine). Baby Jennifer (case
2) is a candidate for 'passive euthanasia' – the omission of a life-saving operation – She will not last long
when sedated to avoid distress and deprived of nutrition, as per the instructions of the BMJ editor. In cases 3
and 4, John and Bertha, with their relatives' agreement, “should be helped to die with dignity” to avoid any
further 'useless' suffering.

These main postulates of the euthanasiast position are taken from the writings of Kohl and Fletcher:

1. They deny that the sanctity of life is always to be upheld;

2. There can be times when it is kinder to kill;
3. This would be inspired by benevolent love, compassion, which wants to spare the sick person
4. There is no purpose in suffering;
5. Only a certain sort of life, one with 'dignity', has value. Hence, if someone would otherwise have a
great deal of pain and suffering, he or she is better being 'helped to die' quickly.



DISTHANASIA is the medical prolongation of life at all costs. It is based on the idea that life is all that
we have, so every possible means should be preserved to maintain it. The treatment of Josip Broz Tito, ruler
of Yugoslavia, was a textbook case of disthanasia. He was kept artificially alive for about eight months while
the Party chiefs, afraid to let him die, jostled for power in the succession stakes.

The disthanasiast would insist that Doris (1) must continue her dialysis, Jennifer (2) is operated on,
John (3) is only allowed low and ineffective doses of pain-killer which will not shorten his lifespan, and the
nurses must make every effort to keep Bertha (4) alive.

BENEMORTASIA – a term from the Latin, meaning 'good death', bona mors, coined by the
theologian Dyck. An alternative is ORTHOTHANASIA (a correct death). This aims to avoid the unnecessary
and fruitless prolongation of the dying process. Yet it respects the sanctity of life: 'Thou shalt not kill'. In line
with Judaeo-Christian tradition, it maintains that it is absolutely forbidden to kill directly an innocent human
being. This is the ethically correct via media.

It would advocate: (1) Doris is not obliged to continue extraordinary means of treatment (dialysis), if
this seems right with her own conscience, between her and God. (2) Jennifer must not be refused an
ordinary routine operation. We must not discriminate against the handicapped, effectively condemning
them to death because of the way we perceive their 'quality of life'.

(3) John is given a pain-killer and cared for whilst dying. It is important to preserve his consciousness
as long as possible in the hope of spiritual healing and reconciliation. Treatments with narcotics is allowable,
to reduce unbearable pain, whether they slightly shorten or lengthen his lifespan. (4) is difficult. The nurses
should just do the best they can. Artificial nutrition and hydration should not be withdrawn unless they
become impossible, because they are a part of basic medical care. While one may pray for the Lord to take
someone quickly, we are not permitted to hasten deliberately anyone's death in any way. It would seem
acceptable not to try and resuscitate if she were to have a heart attack, for instance.

The B.M.A. in June 1999, judged artificial hydration and nutrition as medical treatment, which could
therefore be withdrawn for stroke victims and others with little chance of recovery. This decision may open
the way to a starvation death for many seriously ill patients.

In this debate there are three human values involved: a) prolonging life; b) lessening suffering; c)
preserving freedom and consciousness. We need to maintain the correct balance. The euthanasiast regards
(b) as all-important. The disthanasiast wants (a) at all costs. We need an ethic which provides the right
balance between all three, whilst observing fundamental moral laws. The benemortasia ethic tries to balance
these three values, and respects the sanctity of life.

Classical Catholic moral theology has long taught that we must use ordinary means to sustain life,
but we are not obliged to use extraordinary means.

There has been much discussion as to what constitutes ordinary treatment, and what is
extraordinary, a discussion complicated by further advances in medical technology. By extraordinary means
one intends heart-lung machines, complex and difficult operations, etc. Ordinary means include basic
antibiotics, simple operations, etc. The problem is that what is ordinary and what is extraordinary changes
with time and place. A blood transfusion in the 1930's was extraordinary, but ordinary procedure by the
1960's. Haemodialysis was extraordinary in the 1960's, but might be considered normal today. Moreover,
one cannot draw up a watertight list of ordinary/extraordinary treatments. They must be considered relative



to a patient's overall condition: an elderly person, after a number of operations, may just not wish to face yet
another surgical intervention.
There is an old saying which states broadly what we are advocating, so long as it is not interpreted in a
cynical manner: 'Thou shalt not kill, but need not strive, officiously to keep alive'. Here read 'officiously' in
the sense of 'by extraordinary means.'

Suffering And Death (CCC 1006-1014,1020,1681-1683,2299)

People advocate euthanasia often because they can see no purpose in suffering. To them it is
irredeemable and pointless. As Christians know that suffering can be horrible. It is a most Christian duty to
reduce pain where possible. Nevertheless we also believe that suffering can in a mysterious way be
redemptive. This is the message of Calvary. Jesus did much by his teaching and healing, but He accomplished
most of all by dying on the Cross.

The incurable sick teach us that we need to care. They remind us of the most basic things in life, and
give us the chance to gain our salvation, by 'faith, fruitful in good works'. Sickness challenges the community
to unite and show love.

A society which worships health and strength, youth and power, is often unwilling to be reminded of
suffering and death. It would like to get rid of the problem, cleanly and clinically. In doing so it deprives itself
of experiencing one of the most meaningful parts of life. The dying sometimes seem able to focus a 'stream
of grace' towards those around them. You yourselves may remember the things that a dying patient has said
to you, and how it is a privilege to be with them at that time.

The euthanasiast view sees none of this. It sees human life as only pleasure and pain. Pleasure is to
be maximised and pain avoided.

Deep in our Catholic tradition is the concept of the bona mors, the good death, the holy death, the
summit and crown of a good life, prepared for throughout life. Our society, however, cannot see the sense in
death. Its hope of eternal life is weak. It wants not the bona mors (the good death) but the bella mors (the
nice death), rapid, easy and gentle on the survivors. So death comes to be closeted away, clinical and

But the society which sees no meaning in death risks depriving people of their own deaths.
Christianity sees death as part of life. Secularism sees death as something coming after we have lived: we die
after our lives have ended, rather than experiencing death as a part of life.

The taboo and conspiracy about death risks depriving people of their own deaths. The sick person is
not told, but suspects he/she is dying. The family know but do not want to upset the sick person, and are too
embarrassed to talk about it. The patient would like to ask, but is afraid of upsetting the family. Atthis very
time when they need to face death together, when they could so much support each other, they are divided
by untruth. A wonderful opportunity is lost.

From the point of view of those caring for the sick, I want to uphold the right of the patient to be
informed – provided he/she is in a frame of mind which can cope with it. We have a right to know we are
dying. We need time to prepare to meet God, and to settle outstanding relationships, etc., here on earth.



So while the moral arguments turn on the issue of when the omission of a particular treatment is
morally right or wrong, we need a full appreciation of the Christian mystery to see the significance of
suffering, and how to help the dying to die.


In 1968, Jan Palach burnt himself alive in Wenceslas Square, Prague, as a protest against the Warsaw
Pact invasion of his country which put an end to the Dubček experiment of "socialism with a human face." In
1998 Bishop John Joseph of Faisalabad shot himself in order to draw world attention to the worsening
persecution of Pakistani Christians under Islamic rule. IRA man Bobby Sands M.P. died after 60 days' hunger
strike in the Maze prison, demanding the right to be treated as a political prisoner. Heroes, martyrs, or tragic
mistakes? Pause a moment to think how you would judge these three acts (not the individuals).

Attitudes towards suicide have varied widely. Plato and Aristotle condemned it, but the Stoics and
Seneca, the Roman, considered it a proof of fortitude. Socrates was forced to drink hemlock. The Epicurean
philosophers viewed it as a dignified exit from a life which no longer had meaning. Modern atheists regard it
as the ultimate assertion of freedom: the right to dispose of one's own life as one pleases. Bonhöffer
commented that "the right to suicide disappears only before the presence of the living God." Hitler obliged
Rommel, the "desert fox", to take his own life, promising to spare his family if he did so. He suspected
Rommel, probably falsely, of involvement in the 1944 assassination plot.

Does the Decalogue commandment "Thou shalt not kill" apply to suicide? The OT is unclear. 2 Macc.
14:37-46 describes the suicide of Razis, who "preferring to die nobly", fell upon his own sword rather than
surrender to the Greek persecutor Nicanor. Samson (Judg.16:30) brings the great palace of the Philistines
down upon himself and upon them in a kami-kaze like act of war, taking as many as possible of the enemy
with him.

The sole NT example of suicide is Judas Iscariot. The Fathers unanimously condemned the taking of
one's own life, with the exception of Ambrose, Jerome and Chrysostom who debated whether a Christian
virgin might leap from an upper window or a bridge to certain death, rather than suffer rape. St Augustine

"What we say, what we affirm, what we demonstrate in a thousand ways, is that nobody must
voluntarily remove themselves from this life in order to free themselves from temporal sufferings, for then
he would fall into eternal torments: [suicide is permitted] neither to avoid another's sin [e.g. rape], because
then the person himself, whom the sin of another does not defile, would commit a most grave personal sin;
nor for reason of one's own past sins, because in order to be able to expiate them with penance we have
special need of this life; nor in the desire of the better life which we expect after death, because no other
better life awaits the suicide." (City of God I.26)

St Thomas Aquinas did consider the possibility of someone committing suicide under the inspiration
of the Holy Spirit, but was unable to point to any such case. The Spirit could not inspire a person to commit
an intrinsically evil act. The temptation to self-destruction, even in a good cause, is likely to come from
somewhere else.

Vatican II (GS 27) lists "voluntary suicide" among the "infamies" that are "opposed to life itself".
Pope John Paul II gives the final word in EV 66:



"Suicide is always as morally objectionable as murder. The Church's tradition has always regarded it
as a gravely evil choice. Even though a certain psychological, social and cultural conditioning may induce a
person to carry out an action which so radically contradicts the innate inclination to life, thus lessening or
removing subjective responsibility, suicide, when viewed objectively, is a gravely immoral act. In fact, it
involves the rejection of love of self and the renunciation of the obligation of justice and charity towards
one's neighbour, towards the communities to which one belongs, and towards society as a whole. In its
deepest reality, suicide represents a rejection of God's absolute sovereignty over life and death."

Peschke notes that 20% of suicides are suffering from some type of psychosis, and that another 60%
have some degree of mental imbalance.

War And Peace (CCC 2307-17, 2327-30)

The question of the 'just war' is one which involves the principle of double effect. The difficulty in
applying the criteria in concrete political situations was obvious in the debate preceding the recent Gulf War.
Nevertheless, the principles at least help to clarify our thinking, even if they do not always come up with

States maintain peace and wage war. We shall look briefly therefore at the nature of the State. The
State has to take care of the universal common good of the civic community. Its rights and duties depend
upon how it is conceived.

Hegel and Marx imagined that the State was the goal, the zenith of human development. It was the
'moral universe' and therefore enjoyed the highest and absolute rights. It could in effect become almighty,
and every resistance against it would be immoral. This is the path which leads to totalitarianism, of right or of

"If individuals live only 70 years, then a state, or a nation, or a civilisation, which may last for a
thousand years, is moreimportant than an individual. But if Christianity is true, then the individual is not only
more important, but incomparably more important, for he is everlasting, and the life of a state or a
civilisation, compared with his, is only a moment." (C.S.Lewis)

On the other hand, if the state is merely a mechanism whereby individuals and parties advance their
own interests and claims, a kind of bargaining shop with no higher moral purpose than to reach acceptable
compromises, it cannot then reach out to higher humanitarian goals at a world level, for example, the
advancement of the poorer nations. It is narrowed down to merely individualist or nationalist functions.

The Christian conception of the State is quite different. It is a necessary part of the moral order,
willed by God. It is not an end in itself, but a servant in the attainment of the common good. The State is
there, for instance, to serve and strengthen the family, not to take its functions to itself.

Political authority comes from God, since it is necessary to preserve harmony and justice on earth. To
do this it must respect basic human rights. It can never claim total allegiance from either individuals or the
Church. Nevertheless, the State wields coercive power (i) in order to maintain internal justice and order, and
(ii) to act as an association for self-defence.



The right of the State to self-defence has always been maintained, both in Scripture and in
theological tradition. War, however, should be a very last resort. The State has the right to wage war in order
to defend its existence and the fundamental welfare of its citizens (see GS 79). War becomes a right and
even a duty when the highest goods of the state community or of a community of States are in danger from
an aggressor.

Peace is not merely the absence of war. It is not the silent tension of the mutual balance of terror
produced by the nuclear arms race. It is not achieved by despotic dominion, such as the control England held
over Ireland for many centuries, or the iron grip of Stalinism over the seized Baltic States.

Peace, shalom, is harmony and order in accordance with God's will. It is a state of well-being, 'the
effect of righteousness' (Is. 32:17). Dante, in his poem The Divine Comedy portrays over the gates of heaven
the inscription: 'In tua voluntate nostra pace' – 'In your will is our peace'. 'There is clearly no way of securing
peace except by the scrupulous preservation of a divinely established order' (Pope John XXIII, Pacem In
Terris, 1963).

Peace flows from order: order between persons; order in society; order between nations; order
according to God's will and expressed in natural law; an order which respects justice and human rights.
Without truth and justice there can be no peace. Peace is the fruit of love:

"Insofar as men are sinners, the threat of war hangs over them and will so continue until the coming
of Christ; but in so far as they can vanquish sin by coming together in charity, violence itself will be
vanquished and they will make these words come true: 'They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and
their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any
more'." (Gaudium et Spes, 78)

The Just War theory (CCC 2309) owes much to St. Augustine. Nowhere does the NT condemn
soldiers or war. John the Baptist did not exhort soldiers to lay down their arms, and nor did Jesus ostracise
the Roman centurion of Capernaum (Mt. 8:5-13). Nonetheless, because war is bound up with the most
dreadful evils, it is never justified as an ordinary means of politics, but only for the gravest reasons and as a
last resort.

Here are the conditions which must all be fulfilled for a war to be 'just' (ius ad bellum):

1. It must be waged for the vital goods of a state community, when such goods are being violated or
directly and gravely threatened by attack from another state.
2. All attempts at peaceful settlement or arbitration have failed e.g. by the United Nations or the
Vatican or some other third party.
3. No superior authority can be called in to restore the violated right e.g. United Nations troops.
4. The war does not jeopardise higher goods than those which are to be defended. There must be
sufficient proportion between the good to be accomplished and the accompanying evil cf. the
'double effect principle' above.
5. The intention of the defender does not go beyond the defence and restoration of the violated right.
Vindictive or punitive retaliation is ruled out.
6. The means of defence employed must be proportionate to the purpose of defence.
7. The war must have a fair hope of success.



Once the war has started it must be conducted morally (ius in bello): the means of defence employed
must not be immoral in themselves, for the end never justifies the means (CCC 2312-3). The combatants must
observe international law and natural law, and the international conventions of The Hague (1907) and
Geneva (1949). Hence:

“Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities or extensive areas along
with their population is a crime against God and man which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation.”
(GS 80)

Similarly forbidden are genocide, wholesale killing of innocents in reprisal, killing of innocents as
hostages, rape, cruelties and torture, deportation of enemy workers and their forced labour in war industry.
The international conventions prohibit the deliberate killing of non-combatants, the destruction or
expropriation of enemy property for other than military purposes, and the use of chemical or biological
weapons. They forbid any abuses of the flag of truce, the enemy flag, the Red Cross or the white flag, and
the killing of personnel declared immune: envoys, army chaplains and hospital orderlies.

Nuclear War (CCC 2314)

Some theologians believe that the advent of nuclear weapons has rendered the old just war theory
useless. A war involving nuclear weapons would risk destroying the whole world, and so their use can never
be justified (see criterion 4 above). We may ask whether tactical field nuclear weapons might ever be
permissible, or would the danger of escalation be too great?

Vatican II stated that the development of nuclear weapons forces us to undertake a completely fresh
approach to war' (GS 80). 'In this age of ours, which prides itself on its atomic power, it is irrational to think
that war is a proper way to obtain justice for violated rights' (Pope John XXIII, Pacem in Terris). Even so, it is
worth remembering that the British saturation bombing of Dresden killed more civilians by conventional
bombs than did either of the two American nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Does the Church then say that it is immoral for a country to hold a nuclear deterrent? If the bombs
can hardly be used morally, can their possession be moral? Firstly, the Church condemns the arms race: 'The
arms race is one of the greatest curses on the human race, and the harm it inflicts on the poor is more than
can be endured' (GS 81). Holding a nuclear deterrent can only be a temporary, short term measure, while
the task of total nuclear disarmament is carried out. Disarmament should be on all sides (multilateral), not
just on one side (unilateral).

"The stockpiles of weapons which have been built up in various countries must be reduced all round
and simultaneously by the parties concerned. Nuclear weapons must be banned. A general agreement must
be reached on a disarmament programme with an effective system of mutual control." (Pope John XXIII)

The future of the world hangs by the thread of God's mercy:

Unless animosity and hatred are put aside, and firm honest agreements about world peace are
concluded, humanity may, in spite of the wonders of modern science, go from the grave crisis of the present
day to that dismal hour, when the only peace it will experience will be the dread peace of death. (GS 82)

As Pope Pius XII said in 1939, 'Nothing is lost by peace; everything may be lost by war'.





A) Fulfillment of the Fifth Commandment

 God commands us to live in peace and in union with our neighbors.

 To respect their spiritual and bodily welfare.
 To take proper care of our own life and health.

B) On Human Life

 Human life is the is the greatest mystery for all human science because we know God
in an incomplete manner only.
 Human life is a “spark” of God’s nature.

C) Duties and Allowances

1) Legitimate Defense – double effect of self-defense which is the preservation of one’s life and the
killing of the aggressor…the one is intended, the other is not.

2) Respect for the Souls of Others – to avoid scandals and preserve the dignity of others.

3) Respect for Health – the attainment of living-conditions that allow people to grow and reach

d. Respect for the person and scientific research – scientific, medical, or psychological
experiments on human individuals or groups can contribute to healing the sick and the
advancement of public health.
e. Respect for Bodily Integrity – forbids kidnapping, hostage taking, terrorism, torture, non-
therapeutic amputations, castrations, mutilations and sterilizations.
f. Respect for the Dead – the dying should be given care and attention to help them live their
last moments in dignity and peace, to treat bodies of the dead with respect and charity and
their burials as corporal work of mercy. Allows autopsies for scientific research and legal
inquests and the legitimate free gifts of body organs after demise.

4) Safeguarding Peace – respect for and the development of human life require peace which is not
merely the absence of war or maintaining a balance of powers between adversaries but is the
“tranquility of order” , which is the work of justice and the effect of charity. Forbids vengeful anger,
deliberate hatred and tells us to avoid war though allowing just war, which is the lawful repelling by
force by a nation those seeking to destroy it, which is fro legitimate defense.



D) Violations

 Murder

Or intentional homicide, voluntary and unjust killing of a human being (excludes animals), and may
be performed by direct or indirect act, or omission.

Includes infanticide, fratricide, and parricide. It violates the rights of God and besides taking a life,
robs the victim of the opportunity to gain merits for heaven and to prepare oneself for death.

 Suicide

The deliberate taking of one’s own life. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted
to us. It is not ours to dispose of and contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to
preserve and perpetuate his life.

a. Duel – a combat carried out by the agreement between two persons, fought with deadly weapons,
usually before witness called seconds and is suicide and murder combined, thus double-murder.
Those participating are excommunicated and those killed are denied a Christian burial.

b. Heroic Death is not wrong but highly meritorious, when one endangers health and life in order to
gain everlasting life, or to rescue our fellow-men from physical or spiritual death, as Christ Himself
knowingly gave His life to save souls.

They include martyrs, priest missionaries, doctors, nurses policemen, soldiers, firefighters and
rescuers who expose their lives for the service of others. (Matt. 10:28, 39)

 Euthanasia

Known as “good death” or mercy-killing is the administration of anything to hasten unnatural death
or removal of life-supporting systems to hasten also unnatural death.

It is sinful since a person has the right also to die a natural death.

 Abortion

It is an atrocious crime against a defenseless and innocent unborn child.

It is the intentional ejection or miscarriage of an immature fetus.

 Anger

Becomes a sin when it is unjust or excessive, when it deals us to fighting without reason, since it is a
strong displeasure, combined with a desire to inflict punishment on the offender as revenge.



 Deliberate Hatred

It is a kind of habitual anger, a strong dislike of, or ill-will towards anyone.

It is when one hates someone who sees no good in the one hand hated, wishes evil and rejoices
upon the misfortunes upon the latter.

 Revenge

It is the desire to inflict immoderate or unjust punishment on someone who has caused injury, from a
motive of anger.

 Drunkenness and Gluttony

Known also as excessive intoxication, food, drink and the use of prohibited drugs; are sinful since
they harm the health and shorten life.

They also lead to other vices and sins, cause poverty and lead to trouble in the family. They are also
forms of slow suicide and clouds or numbs reason.

 Reckless Driving

It is when a person unnecessarily exposes his life and that of passengers to senseless death or injury
by operating vehicles irresponsibly.

 Exposing Oneself to Unnecessary Danger

This includes engaging in extreme games or sports which may injure one’s physical integrity which
may even result to death.

 Unnecessary Destruction of the Body -Mutilations, Sterilizations, Castrations and Amputations

It is unlawful and sinful to destroy one’s body unless for medical reasons such us prolonging and
improving one’s life.

 Scandal or Bad Example

It is any sinful word, deed or omission that dispose others to sin, or lessens their respect for God and
Holy religion.

Includes obscene language, immoral movies and television programs, pornographic literature,
immodest fashions and bad companions.





7. 'You shall not steal.' (Exod. 20:15).

10. 'You shall not desire your neighbour's house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or
his ass, or anything that is your neighbour's.' (Deut. 5:21)

The Basic Elements of Catholic Social Teaching

1. SOLIDARITY (Sollecitudo Rei Socialis, [Pope John Paul II, 1988] 39;

Christian Freedom and Liberation (C.D.F.(1986) 89-91).

Solidarity indicates a link and a reciprocal obligation between the individual and society. Man with his
brothers is obliged to contribute to the common good of society at all its levels. This duty of solidarity flows
from the dignity of each individual, created in God's image, and his consequent rights and duties. No man is
an island. Man grows and develops in relation to others, and he in his turn must show solidarity with others.
The principle of solidarity is opposed to all forms of individualism which denies man's social nature, and
would see in society only a utilitarian grouping which balances mechanically the interests of individuals.
'There is no such thing as society' is a statement which typifies the individualist ethos. The principle of
solidarity also denies the tenets of collectivism (e.g. Marxism) which strips man of his personal dignity and
reduces him to a mere object of social and economic processes.

2. THE COMMON GOOD ( Pacem in Terris, [Pope John XXIII, 1963] 53-59).

The common good of a State, or of all humanity, consists in the complex of institutions and
conditions which permit the individual and smaller social units to attain their divinely ordered purposes,
collaborating in an ordered manner. We should act for the common good, not according to selfish
individualism. The common good usually takes priority over personal interests.

One can illustrate this by comparing the State or society to an organism, such as an olive tree. The
individual cells die and are continually replaced by new ones~ but the organism as a whole lives on.
Moreover, the parts of the tree, its leaves and roots – are not isolated parts. They come together to form a
whole, greater than the sum of the parts. Leaves and roots serve the whole. Similarly, the individuals in
society are not isolated units but form a spiritual and ethical unity. They should serve the whole.

Organisms do not let their individual members perish but feed and protect them. Only in extreme
necessity is one sacrificed to save the whole. Society too should not desert or abandon its members but
nourish and care for them.

On the other hand, the individual does have certain inalienable rights which society can never
override. The dignity of the person must be protected against all forms of totalitarianism. Man is never
merely a member of a State or company. The common good prevails over the individual good only so far as a
man has obligations towards a certain social organism i.e. insofar as he is a member of it, an employee in a
factory, a citizen in a town, a subscriber to an association. In particular, the common good of an earthly



organisation must give way to supernatural goods. 'The supernatural salvation of a single individual is more
precious than the natural good of the whole universe', St. Thomas Aquinas (I-II 112,9).

In the ultimate analysis, the purpose of society is to perfect the human personality. Human society is
for man, not man for society. Persons are the active and responsible subj ects of social life. Society has a
divinely willed function, but only man is willed by God as an end in himself.

3. The Principle of SUBSIDIARITY

Pope Pius XI gave the classical definition in 1931:

Just as it is wrong to withdraw from the individual and commit to a group what private
enterprise and industry can accomplish, so too it is an injustice, a grave evil and a disturbance of right
order, for a larger and higher association to arrogate to itself functions which can be performed
efficiently by smaller and lower societies. This is a fundamental principle of social philosophy, unshaken
and unchangeable. Of its very nature the true aim of all society shouId be to help members of the social
body, but never to destroy or absorb them. (Quadragesimo Anno, 79)

Families, local associations and professional bodies should be allowed to fulfil their natural roles and
not have their functions taken over by the State. The principle of subsidiarity emphasises personal
autonomy. It protects the individual and small group from being taken over by larger organisms. It opposes
State-centralising tendencies. Higher social entities (e.g. the State) should intervene in the affairs of smaller
bodies only when help is needed, or for largescale tasks which only a larger organisation can tackle. The
State has the right to intervene in family affairs only when parents are seriously neglecting or are incapable
of their duties (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 86, Gravissimum Educationis, 3).
See also Mater et Magistra 117 & 152 (Pope John XXIII, 1961).

The Question Of Private Property (CCC 2402-2406)

Let us now turn to two practical problems in the area of social morality. the first of these is the idea
of private property. Consider this story. A Benedictine priest was working in a poor village mission in South
America. Most of his parishioners had very little land. They often went hungry, suffering malnutrition and
starvation. One day a wealthy landowner who had large herds of cattle nearby came up to him angrily to
complain. He'd had one of his cows stolen and killed for food. He suspected one of the village families.
'Well,' said the priest, 'they probably had nothing else to eat, and were starving. You've got thousands, and
you wouldn't miss just one.' 'I thought the commandments said 'Thou shalt not steal'' retorted the rich man,
'but there you go, justifying theft!' And he marched off in a fury, threatening to call in the military police,
convinced the priest was a communist subversive.

On that reckoning the Church Fathers, like SS. Basil, Ambrose, John Chrysostom and Augustine, St.
Thomas Aquinas, Pope Paul VI and many others would rank as card-carrying communists.

'If a person is in extreme necessity, he has the right to take from the riches of others what he himself
needs' (Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, 69). If life, health or liberty are dangerously at risk, a man may take the
food, clothing or fuel he and his family desperately need, provided there is no other way.



St. Basil (4th century) had some straight talking for the rich landowners of his day. He accused them
of keeping for themselves what was intended for the common good. God is not unjust, he continued. He has
made them rich so that they may help the poor, and receive from God the reward of benevolence. But to fail
in this is robbery, even murder.

St Ambrose likewise warned the rich to aid the needy: 'You are not making a gift of your possessions
to the poor person. You are handing over to him what is his. For what has been given in common for the use
of all? you have arrogated to yourself. The world is given to all, not only to the rich'. (Quoted by Pope Paul VI
in PopuIorum Progressio, 23 (1967))

Hence we are stewards, not possessors. of this world's goods. Ownership is always conditional,
never absolute. The right to own property is a secondary right. It is secondary to the right to life and the
basic needs of others. Our possessions, talents and time are all given to us for the building of God's
Kingdom. They are not absolutely ours. Ultimately they are God's. One day we shall be judged on how we
have used them.

Marxists ought to consider that common ownership has been practised longest not under their
godless regimes, but in Catholic monasteries and religious orders - a voluntary religious communism, flowing
from Christian charity, not Soviet diktat.

This does not mean, however, that we follow Marxist theory and abolish private property. This
causes more problems than it solves. Private property is in accord with natural and divine law. It is the
normal method by which the world's goods are shared out. The Church has vigorously defended the
individual's right to own private property against Marxist and Socialist schemes for its confiscation. It may
well be that in the Garden of Eden, before the Fall, there was no need for private property – everything was
equally shared. Sadly, in this world, private property is necessary for various reasons. If everything were held
in common, things would be misused or left damaged. Quarrels over use would be frequent. Some people
don't work unless they have to, and many work better if they have a direct share in the fruits of their labour.
The right to own some private property is essential for human freedom. It guarantees man a personal sphere
of action and independence, in which to develop, grow, care for a family and exercise his divinely-given
stewardship and responsibility. Remove this right and man is left naked before the forces of the all-
possessing totalitarian state. It gives rise to lively economic exchange.

Providence has divided the riches of nature unequally among the peoples in order to encourage the
formation of bonds of love between peoples of different countries and races. Merchants should not be
ambassadors of greed but of understanding between peoples. The institution of private property offers man
the chance of giving unselfishly to others. For if everything belongs to everyone, none could practise
almsgiving or lending. State handouts are cold and impersonal in comparison to personal charity.

Our usual English error is to regard property rights as absolute. We forget the social responsibility
inherent in ownership. 'Hands off, it's mine!' Laws are often made by the rich to protect their property, at
the expense of the poor. Not so long ago, Englishmen were hanged for sheepstealing or transported for
stealing loaves of bread, even if their families were starving. Even today, modern English law enshrines a
weird set of priorities. Murder a baby in its mother's womb: nothing can be done. Corrupt a couple's children
with explicit 'sex education' in some council boroughs: they have no redress. Seduce a man's wife and wreck
his marriage: perfectly legal. But steal £10 from a man's wallet, and you will soon find yourself before the
magistrates. Property is protected. Life, morality and family are not.



Governments which distribute wealth unfairly undermine their own authority. By disobeying God,
they reduce their claim upon the obedience of their citizens. Aquinas noted that a bad or immoral law is an
act of violence. Grossly unjust governments are no better than brigands or pirates (cf. St. Augustine, City Of
God IV, 4 ) .

Labour Over Capital (CCC 2426-2436)

Now let us move on to another area of social concern: the question of human work and money.
Consider these three pictures:

One world: City boardrooms and stockbrokers' offices, champagne bars and fat cigars; bowler-
hatted gents in pin-striped suits, carrying the Financial Times and crowding the Tube trains. Millions
of pounds to be made or lost in a morning's dealing.

Another world: the deafening noise of ring frames spinning in the mill. Oil and grease, fluff in the air;
bales hoisted up from lorries; feeding armfuls of fibre into the card; piecing up and doffing and
pushing the full spindles along in little trucks; the brew-up every two hours and the Thursday wage-

A third world: the DHSS queue, the Jobcentre interview, the fortnightly Giro in the Post; long, boring,
angry days; staying in bed all morning, with nothing to get up for, wishing the world would go away;
another quarrel with the wife; another letter, 'Dear Sir, We regret that at present we have no
vacancies for the type of employment you are seeking. . .'.

Three worlds in one. One world divided by the clash between the forces of labour and the forces of
capital. A society divided against itself by the sinful effects of capitalist theory. Can the insights of Catholic
social thought show us where the modern economic system has gone wrong? What are the faults of the
theory on which it is based?

Firstly we need to examine the terms 'labour' and 'capital'. 'Labour' means human work. By work,
man shapes the world around him. He applies his powers of body and mind to raw matter. All human wealth
and possessions arise through labour, applied to the earth's God-given resources. 'It is only by the labour of
working men that states grow rich' (Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum, 27). 'Capital' signifies property, money,
resources, tools and equipment. All capital is a result of previous labour. Much of Britain's wealth results
from the labour of our forefathers.

A working man may store up a little capital for himself by diligence and thrift. He invests in new
equipment to do a higher quality and quicker job. Labour plus extra capital investment here produce a
greater output. Or else a man may sell his labour for wages. He becomes an employee. He works with
another's capital and materials. The owner of capital makes a profit on the sale of the finished product.

But 'Capital cannot do without labour, nor labour without capital' (Rerum Novarum, 15). A machine
shop is useless if no one is prepared to work in it. A joiner cannot work if he has neither tools nor wood.
Labour and capital have to cooperate in a just manner for a peaceful and prosperous society. Marxist theory
is a reaction against the abuses of liberal capitalism. It wants all capital taken over by the State and the
abolition of private property. With that, personal freedom also goes. This attempted solution creates more



problems than it solves. It also promotes class war and hatred between the classes who labour and the
property owners. This often ends in mutual destruction rather than a j ust distribution.

The worker and employer have to make a wage contract. Theories of laissezfaire (free-for-all)
capitalism state that market forces alone – the laws of supply and demand – should determine wage
contracts. However, if the market is left to work by itself, the strong can enforce unjust contracts on the
weak. Poor people have to work or starve. Capitalists form cartels to keep prices up and wages down.
During the Industrial Revolution and now in Third World countries, many capital owners keep much of the
fruit of labour for themselves. They resist all attempts to legislate about working conditions, minimum
wages, child labour and social benefits. Alternatively, exaggerated wage claims by strong unions can
bankrupt a small company.

So although during the 1980's and 90's Western governments have advocated the free play of
market forces, it is worth remembering that Pope Pius XI roundly condemned liberal capitalism for leading to
'the international imperialism of money'. The Catholic Church maintains that a free market has to be
governed by certain moral principles. Otherwise it is a jungle war. A working man has a right to a family
wage. His wife and children should not be forced to go out to work. Workers have the right of free
association, the right to form trade unions to defend their just interests.

Pope John Paul II criticises capitalist economics for its error of economism in the encyclical Laborem
Exercens. The error is that labour is treated merely as a commodity to be bought and sold like sugar or oil,
with no reference to its human dimension. Human labour is put on a level with life-less materials. This is to
commit human beings to an accountant's equation on a par with fuel costs9 raw materials and profit
margins. It leads to decisions being taken about the fate of workers purely on the basis of profit.
But human labour is not an inert 'raw material'. It is personal. A man puts himself into his work. Man needs
to work and exercise skill in a craft in order to achieve a sense of fulfilment and self-respect as a useful
member of the human community. True, work makes us sweat. It can be a penance. But it is also creative,
fashioning the world with God and cooperating with one another. Man should be ennobled, not degraded,
by his work (or the lack of it).

Laissez-faire liberal capitalism is a theory of greed made to seem respectable. It tramples across
man's spiritual nature, his right to work and to a craft. Money and profit take precedence over truly human
interests. The Pope calls this the error of practical materialism. It is the reason why the Western economic
system is having such miserable effects.

On the one hand, the system can lead to the monotony of the car-assembly line. Raw materials go
into factories and come out improved: living men enter and come out degraded by soul-destroying
boredom. Yes, they may settle for higher wage rates, but does that morally compensate for spiritual and
mental atrophy?

On the other hand, for the sake of 'efficiency' and 'productivity', the system has thrown millions onto
the dole. A factory on a three-shift day sacks an entire staff and switches to continental 12-hour shifts with
extra overtime. Family life is disrupted. Workers are pressured to work at weekends or they feel they may be
next out. The balance of life is destroyed for the material profit of a faceless holdings corporation.

The priority of labour over capital is a key principle in Catholic social thought. Humanity comes
before profit. Man is more important than the products he makes. Man is the subject of work, and all work is



in the service of man. he is not a mere instrument, a cog in the machine. The whole purpose of the economy
is to provide him with the essentials of life.

The system should be made for man, not man fed into the system and chewed up. But how? The
Church supplies only the underlying principles for socio-economic life. People must then apply them in their
concrete situation and era. The Church does not have a fully worked-out blueprint for British society in 1995.
It is up to us all to see how best, by means of political systems or parties, the common good can be




1. The Seventh and the Tenth Commandments both deal with commands about property.
2. Both Commandments command us to give to all men what belongs to them and to
respect their property and belongings.

The Seventh Commandment

1. Commands us to respect what belongs to others, to live up to our business agreements and to
pay our just debts.
2. Refers to external acts of respect and violations concerning property.
3. Forbids the unjust taking or keeping goods of one’s neighbor and wronging him in any way with
respect to his goods.
4. It commands justice and charity in the care of earthly goods and the fruits of people’s labor.
5. It requires respect for the universal destination of goods and respect for the right to private

The Tenth Commandment

1. This Commandment is concerned with intentions or desires against honesty.

2. It commends us to be content with what we have and to rejoice in our neighbor’s welfare by not
being covetous, envious or greedy.


1. Respect and defend other’s property.

2. Reparation of Damage to Property.
3. Deal honestly in business.
4. Paying one’s just debts.
5. Living up to one’s agreements and contracts.
6. Paying fair wages to one’s employees.
7. Doing a full day’s work for a full day’s pay or work.
8. Returning things we have found.




1. Justice – the virtue which inclines us to give to God and to man what is due to them.
2. Social Justice
a. This is the exercise of God-given individual rights taken in relation to the common welfare.
b. It is usually concerned with the capital and labor but actually embraces more on social
3. the Church and Social Justice
a. In order to carry out its primary objective of sanctifying and saving men, the church defines
certain principles of what we term “social justice”, that is applying the Law of God to
conditions of present day economic and social life.

4. Social Role of the Church based on Social Encyclicals:

a. The church has the right to speak out on matters that affect religion and morality as they
affect moral issues and social issues.
a. The church through the use of the Gospel principles can help reconcile and unify
social classes.
b. The church can educate people to act justly.
b. Individual Christian must advance civil institutions, human dignity and foster a unity
between peoples since the church and humanity experience the same earthly situation
(faith doing justice).
c. The Church commits itself to the humanization of life, world justice, and preferential
option for the poor and against social apathy.

5. Social Problems:

A. Social Problems in General

o Unequal Distribution of Wealth.
o Lack of Materials and equipments in producing better products.
o Insufficient wages and salaries.
o Exploitation of people especially by politicians.
o Ecological Abuse.
o Graft and Corruption.
o Weak Economy.
o Criminality.
o Overcrowding and Population Increase.
o Lack of Morals and Spirituality.
o Injustice.

B. Present Social Situations in the Philippine Setting According to PCPII

o Inhuman Economic Systems and Structures.
o Undesirable Political Situation.
o Lack of Cultural Understanding and Heritage Appreciation.
o The Church becomes the Vehicle of Instrument for Socio-Political Awareness.

6. Sinful Structures



A. Sins Affecting Justice:

1. Personal Sins – done by individuals, either mortal (spiritual death) or venial (spiritual
2. Original Sin – inherited state of disgrace from our first parents which makes us prone to go
against God’s will.
3. Interpersonal Sins – corrupting relationships.
4. Societal or Social Sins – located in social structures, situations and groups which oppress
persons, violate their human dignity, stifle freedom and foster unjust inequality.

7. Private Property

a. Every man has the right to own a sufficient amount of the earth’s goods for himself and
family, though not absolute.
b. Private ownership is a right because everything has a right to life and to all means necessary
for the purpose of life.
c. All men have the right to use the goods of the whole creation meaning that the right to
private property is subordinated to the right of common use, to the fact that goods are
meant for everyone.


a) 1). Theft from Above

the rich robbing the poor.
b) 2). Theft from Below
the poor people taking from the rich.


1. The Church teaches that the human work the ordinary way of acquiring property, serving others and
taking part in perfecting God’s creation.
2. It proceeds directly from persons created in the image of God and called to prolong the work of
creation by subduing the earth both and with for one another.
3. It is a duty that honor’s God’s gifts and the talents received from him. Wherein the persons exercises
and fulfills in the part the potential inscribed in his nature.


- The church has always understood that, Christ identifies with the poor and underprivileged but
looks at this option now with a new urgency by reading the “signs of the times: seeing God’s face
above all in faces of the suffering and wounded people.

- A preferential love should be shown to the poor or those economically disadvantaged, whose
needs and rights are given special attention in God’s eyes and as a consequence of their status,
suffer oppression and powerlessness.

- Love of the poor is inspired by the gospel of the Beatitudes, of the poverty of Jesus and of His
concern for the poor as echoed in the works of mercy and living a simple lifestyle.



- The poor are not receivers of the Gospel but are also bearers of God’s word, challenging us to


1. Theft
Generic term encompassing the more common property crimes. Known also as stealing, it is
the secret taking of another’s property.

a). Small Theft or Petty Larceny

b). Large Theft or Grand Larceny

2. Larceny – carrying and taking away of the goods of another without the person’s consent.
3. Embezzlement – misappropriation of the goods of another which have been delivered or entrusted
to the possession of the offender.
4. Robbery – open theft with violence, fear of theft.
5. Burglary – breaking and entering of a house.
6. Arson – the burning of structures without just cause or for insurance purposes.
7. Cheating or Fraud (in business matters)
deliberate deception for the purpose of swerving
depriving/measurements, counterfeiting, adulteration of products, forgery, falsification,
smuggling, tampering, overcharging excessive profits, arson for insurance, copyright
violations including copying during examinations.
8. Graft and Bribery – when public servants are abusive for purposes of economic gains.
9. Usury or Loan Sharking – lending money with excessive charge of interest.
10. Buying and Selling of Stolen Goods.
11. Non-payment of Debts
12. Unjust Payment of Salaries and Lack of Labor Rendered
13. Unjust Keeping of One’s Property
14. Monopolies
15. Unjust Damage to Property of Others or Vandalism
16. Hoarding or Profiteering – keeping goods in short supply for higher prices.
17. Luxury, Extravagance Squandering and Avarice.
18. Greed and Envy
19. Dishonesty
20. Consumerism and Materialism





'You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.' (Exod. 20:16)

The Nature of Truth

G.K.Chesterton pointed out that the human mind is a machine for finding out truth. If it is thwarted
in this vital task, it breaks down or goes awry.

It was Pontius Pilate who famously asked the Lord: What is Truth? And did not wait for an answer.
The scholastic answer to Pilate’s question is adaequatio mentis ad rem, literally “the ad-equation
(correlation) of the mind to the real thing.” Truth is grasped when the idea in the human mind accurately
corresponds to the reality outside.

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew language has no abstract concept of intellectual truth. The
nearest term is the Hebrew word emeth, which denotes something firm, solid, binding, and worthy of trust.
One can put one’s faith in the person or thing which possesses emeth. It will not deceive or let you down. So
truth is a personal quality like reliability, steadfastness, trustworthiness, honesty, integrity.

To the classical Greeks, the word for truth, aletheia, signified reality as intellectually comprehended.
Etymologically it means “non-concealment.” Truth to the Greeks was something known, cognitive rather
than personal.

In the New Testament, these two approaches flow together. Truth is intellectual, but also personal,
for Jesus is Truth incarnate: “I am the way, the truth and the life.” He is “full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14)
Truth is that which has certainty and force. It is a living power, a vital energy: “You will know the truth, and
the truth will set you free.” The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, who liberates mankind from sin and the
slavery of the devil, who is “the father of lies.”

Truth is the Gospel, the true teaching or faith. The Church is the pillar and ground of truth. In St John
aletheia takes on the specific sense of revelation, divine reality, authenticity. So truth is not only intellectual,
it is the divinely revealed reality of the living God. Sin and untruth are unreality, whereas God is the source of
all truth.

Witnessing to the Truth

As Catholic Christians we believe that, by no merit of our own, we have been blessed with
unparalleled access to Divine Truth. Undeserving sinners as we are, the Lord has been richly generous to us,
and revealed the mysteries of his love, and his plans for the human race. Perhaps it is better not to say that
“we have the Truth.” The Truth, who is Christ, is much greater than we are. Preferably, then, say that “the
Truth possesses us.” For we are subject to Divine Truth, we cannot manipulate it. We must serve the Truth,
which is greater than humankind.



The knowledge of Truth brings with it the duty to teach and spread Truth. He who knows Truth must
speak and act against error. Truth has its own intrinsic power which cannot be suppressed. Hence Christians
must be witnesses to the Gospel. This witness reaches its apex in those who preferred truth to physical life
itself, and died as martyrs to Christ.

Truthfulness in word requires truthfulness in deed as well. We have to live out what we profess with
our lips. Otherwise the world will see us as hypocrites. Truthfulness is inseparably linked to moral
uprightness. Sinfulness predisposes us to avoid truth.

Christians do not have a monopoly on truth. As early as the second century, St Justin Martyr spoke of
“seeds of the Word” being present in the classical non-Christian philosophers of his day. The Church does
not possess all Truth. She does have all that is necessary for salvation, and has it without error. But
reflections of divine truth can also be glimpsed in the non-Christian religions. Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism and
so on can sometimes function as a preparation for the Gospel, in so far as they raise man’s mind and heart to
God and to the eternal questions of human existence.

For this reason Vatican II spoke of dialogue with separated Christians and with non-Christian
believers. There are insights to be gained from them, without jeopardizing the unique and irreplaceable
revelation, which exists in the Church’s deposit of faith. Just as Jesus was willing to speak with the Syro-
Phoenician woman, who persuaded him to heal her daughter, so the Church may sometimes learn more
about her mission by dialogue with those of other faiths.

Sins against Truth:

How does the lie undermine society? Distinguish between calumny and detraction.

False speech is defined as giving misleading or false information to someone who has no right to the
truth, and is threatening violence or being a nuisance. (see CCC 2489)

Respect for the Truth: Professional Secrets: CCC 2488-2492

You are a doctor, and a bus driver who has fainted at work comes for treatment. Cardiac tests show
that he is suffering from angina and is a likely candidate for a heart attack. He refuses to inform his
employers. What should you do?

Another patient, a married man, is found to have the AIDS virus. He refuses to disclose how he may
have acquired the virus. He does not wish to abstain from sexual relations with his wife, but he refuses to tell
her about his HIV+ infection. What course of action might you take?

Use of the Social Communications Media: CCC 2493-99

To think about: To what extent do the mass-media in your country systematically distort the truth?
Are there particular issues or subjects which they usually treat in a biased manner? In what ways is
truth sacrificed for the sake of profit, or in order not to offend powerful interests? Can Christians do
anything about this?



Truth, Beauty and Sacred Art CCC 2500-03

Metaphysics, the science of being, is not a subject which features on this course. I mention it
because it deduces that there are four transcendental qualities: the one, the good, the true and the
beautiful. Each of these (unity, goodness, truth and beauty) is found in its highest perfection in God Himself.

The created world reflects these qualities of the Creator. The world around us has an astonishing
beauty, if we only open our eyes and minds to behold it. Both on the astronomical scale, and on the atomic
scale, and in the human form, the wonders of creation are breath-taking. They offer us a glimpse of the glory
of God.

The study of aesthetics, of beauty in art, is one which we cannot explore in detail here. Suffice it to
say that good art – be it painting, sculpture, architecture, music, drama or literature, captures and illuminates
some of that divine truth and beauty inscribed in the created world, and helps the viewer, or listener, or
reader to appreciate aspects of it which he has not previously recognised. Good art will deepen our
perception of reality. It can be a pathway towards Him who is Ultimate Reality and Beauty.

Rembrandt’s portraits, Michaelangelo’s David, York Minster, Beethoven’s Ninth, a Shakespeare play
or a Jane Austen novel – they enrich us as human beings and hopefully predispose us to become better
persons. Good art doesn’t have to be as highbrow as this: folk music, jazz, landscape photos on a calendar,
woodcarving, pottery, your local parish church or town hall can also be carriers of beauty. But can the same
be said of splodges of paint thrown at a canvas, piles of bricks and unmade beds at the Tate, heavy metal
rock music, our inner-city blocks of flats, those neurotic BBC “Plays of the Month” and trashy novels which
sell only because of their sex episodes?

Much of what has passed for art in the late 20th century seems merely to reflect the moral
decadence and spiritual bankruptcy of the age. The self-indulgent urge to shock seems to have replaced the
disciplined attempt to reflect something of Divine Beauty. When all the rules and conventions have been
smashed, the “work of art” is no longer capable of carrying any meaning. It is interesting to hear of young
artists, who have abandoned the modern abstract art in which they were trained at art school, and have
gone back to classical subjects, portraits and landscapes, because “that’s what people want.”

The Church is ideally placed to recover her role as a leading sponsor of art, commissioning works
which beautifully depict episodes in the history of salvation.





- Commands us to speak the truth in all things, but especially in what concerns the good name and
honor of others.

1. Truthfulness or Veracity – makes one tell always what is true, avoid lies and to keep
the truth when it is not necessary to make it known.
2. Uprightness – upholding the honorable reputation, good name and fame of oneself
and that of others.


1. Lying – when something that is said is not true for the purpose of deceiving others.

Kinds of Lies:
a. Jocose Lie – when something which is obviously not true, is said in jest or amusement of
others; it becomes sinful when it becomes offensive and insulting.
b.Officious or “White” Lie – when something is said to avert evil or harm from oneself or others;
the motive is not to harm but to avoid evil or harm.
c. Malicious, Pernicious of Harmful Lie – when something is said for the purpose of deceiving or
injuring someone.
2. Perjury – a lie taken under oath.
3. Hypocrisy or Dissimulation – it is acting a lie or pretending to be better than we are.
4. Flattery – when one excessively praises another person for an ulterior motive; or praising a
person immoderately, against one’s conviction in order to secure an advantage for himself.
5. Boasting or Bragging – when one unnecessarily speaks out with pride, vanity and exultation.
6. Cursing – when one wishes evil or misfortunes of some kind to overtake ourselves or another
7. Defamation – when one takes away or lessens a person’s fame without reasonable motive.

Kinds of Defamation:

a. Rash Judgment – when one assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault
of another; or when one believes something evil or harmful upon another person’s character
without sufficient reason.
b. Detraction – when one, without any objective valid reason, discloses another’s faults and
failings to persons who do not know them, or when one makes known the hidden faults of
another without valid justifiable or good reason.
c. Tale-Bearing or Whispering – a from of detraction wherein a person repeats to another
person as unfavorable remark secretly, with the purpose of breaking up a virtuous
d. Derision – a jest that reproaches another with some defect or evil in his presence, with the
purpose of putting him into confusion.



e. Calumny or Slander – when one injures the reputation of another by false stories and consists
of accusing a person of faults of which he is not guilty; it is also when one makes remarks
contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasions for false judgments
concerning them.
f. Uncharitable Conversation or Backbiting – when a person discusses known faults of another
without necessity and behind the person’s back.
g. Contumely or Insult – when a person is dishonored unjustly in his presence by refusing to
show him the signs of honor due him, or by not noticing him.
h. Libel – in general it is any public defamatory accusation, maliciously made, whether the facts
be true or not, either by letter, phone, radio, film, television, etc.; but is applied specifically to
those accusations done in writing.
i. Gossip – when one exaggerates a person’s faults or sins with malice.
j. Secrets - Objectively, it is something hidden; or subjectively, it is the knowledge of a hidden
fact with the obligation not to reveal the fact.

Kinds of Secrets:
i. Natural Secret – is so called because the obligation not to reveal the hidden fact
arises from Natural Law, such as when one discovers another’s secrets and shameful
ii. Promised Secret – is a secret which a person promised to keep after the secret has
been received.
iii. Entrusted Secret – is a secret which was obtained only after an explicit or tacit
agreement had been made that secrecy would be observed.

Types of Entrusted Secret:

1. Professional Secrets – a secret which had been entrusted to a doctor,
midwife, lawyer, psychiatrist, et. al.
2. Sacramental or Confessional Secret – known as Seal of Confession, a fact
which had been confessed to a priest and is most binding of all secrets.




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