Our Holy Father speaks frequently of the “moral relativism” which is gradually spreading to all areas of society and to all cultures with extremely damaging effects. Moreover the lack of a sound religious formation has given us not one but two generations of young people who truly no longer know right from wrong. That is the question Fr. Gallagher sets out to answer in this excellent survey of the many challenges to today’s moral theologian, not in the substance of his teaching but in the approach and method he uses. Not that the old textbooks ignored the human element but today there is need for change and the impulse for this comes from the Vatican Council which among other things urged a consideration of the “exalted vocation of the faithful” and the need to involve the Gospel and human experience in moral matters - new thinking for new circumstances. Moral theology has to be founded on law but in past times the only law considered was Church law. Today, however, the theologian must take into account the laws of the market, bio-medical laws and political developments all of which pose new problems. There is also the burning question of freedom, not just freedom of choice which concerned the old manuals but also the freedom to develop personality and moral character - constituent parts of the human person .Moral theology today has to be formulated in terms of the human person and should emerge from inside human life rather than be imposed from the outside. It develops at two levels: human experience and practical science. The late Holy Father made significant contributions to the discipline from this point of view.
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