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Old 16th March 2010, 05:40 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 12,628
Default basic principles

Before we start discussing the book, I would like to cover one more point.

In order to understand moral theology, in order to be able to discern right from wrong in many different circumstances, we need to learn the basic principles of ethics.

In matters of faith, we can simply learn what is explicitly taught by the Magisterium, such as that God is Three Persons, that Christ is fully human and full God, that Mary had an Immaculate Conception that preserved her from original sin, etc. We might not be able to figure out the answer to many questions in matters of faith. We only know that God is Three because it was divinely revealed; it cannot be determined by reason.

In matters of morality, every requirement of the moral law is theoretically accessible to reason.

"Revelation also contains moral teachings which per se could be known by natural reason. Access to them, however, is made difficult by man's sinful condition. It is a doctrine of faith that these moral norms can be infallibly taught by the Magisterium." (Cardinal Ratzinger, Donum Veritatis, n. 16.)

Furthermore, the Magisterium is not able to consider each and every possible circumstance that each and every person might encounter, and then issue a teaching on that particular decision of morality. The Magisterium teaches that certain kinds of acts are always immoral, and also teaches basic principles of ethics. But the faithful must learn both the particular teachings on particular acts, and the principles. Otherwise, we would have great difficulty determining what is or is not moral, because man's sinful condition makes it difficult to access moral truth.

The CCE (Catechism of Catholic Ethics) teaches the basic principles of ethics, as well as particular decisions of the Magisterium about particular acts. Learn these principles and how to apply them, and you will be able to discern moral acts from immoral acts with relative ease in most situations.
Ron Conte
Roman Catholic theologian
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