Author: David Cloutier

Introducing the Journal of Moral Theology

For a long time, North American Catholic moral theologians have lacked a specific journal in which to carry out their research. There are outstanding ethics journals, like the Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics, but the audiences for these journals are much broader and aren’t as interested in specifically Catholic concerns. And there are outstanding Catholic journals, like Theological Studies, but they cover all areas of theology, and so have limited space for moral theology articles. But now there is the Journal of Moral Theology. The first print issues were distributed at this past weekend’s meeting of the Society of Christian Ethics, and the issue contains a series of articles by leading contemporary figures (like Jim Keenan and John Grabowski) on important figures from the previous generation (in this case, on Bernard Haring and Pope John Paul II, respectively). The articles from the journal will always be available as open-access files, and more details on future issues can also be found at the website. We hope readers of catholicmoraltheology.com who are interested in moral theology beyond blog posts will check it...

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Prudential Judgment 101: A Theological Roundtable

***NOTE: This roundtable will include posts by multiple Catholicmoraltheology bloggers. Please check back for additions to the body of the text. Recent discussions of issues like capital punishment have raised what has become a vexed point in Catholic moral theology debates in recent years: the question of what is meant by “prudential judgment,” or more specifically the contention that some statements of Church leaders concern “prudential judgments,” thus not requiring obedience. A key text for such a contention is found in the Vatican’s Ecclesial Instruction on the Vocation of the Theologian: 24. Finally, in order to serve the People of God as well as possible, in particular, by warning them of dangerous opinions which could lead to error, the Magisterium can intervene in questions under discussion which involve, in addition to solid principles, certain contingent and conjectural elements. It often only becomes possible with the passage of time to distinguish between what is necessary and what is contingent. The willingness to submit loyally to the teaching of the Magisterium on matters per se not irreformable must be the rule. It can happen, however, that a theologian may, according to the case, raise questions regarding the timeliness, the form, or even the contents of magisterial interventions. … When it comes to the question of interventions in the prudential order, it could happen that some Magisterial documents might not be free...

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