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This is an historical survey of 20th Century Roman Catholic Theological Ethics (also known as moral theology). It is only through historical investigation that we can really understand how the most conservative and negative field in Catholic theology could become by the end of the 20th century the most innovative one. The century begins with moral manuals being translated into the vernacular. After examining the manuals of Thomas Slater and Henry Davis, Keenan then turns to three works and a crowning synthesis of innovation all developed before, during and soon after the Second World War.
But with Humanae vitae and successive encyclicals, bishops and popes reject the direction of moral theologians. At the same time, moral theologians, like Josef Fuchs, ask whether the locus of moral truth is in continuous, universal teachings of the magisterium or in the moral judgment of the informed conscience. In their move toward a deeper appreciation of their field as forming consciences, they turn more deeply to local experience where they continue their work of innovation. Each continent subsequently gives rise to their own respondents: In Europe they speak of autonomy and personalism; in Latin America, liberation theology; in North America, Feminism and Black Catholic theology; and, in Asia and Africa a deep post-colonial inculturation theology. Keenan asserts, that theological ethics today is historically rooted but always engaging the present seeking moral truth for the conscience by looking to speak cross-culturally.
1 Background 1
2 The Moral Manualists 9
3 Initiating Reform Odon Lottin 35
4 Retrieving Scripture and Charity Fritz Tillmann Gérard Gilleman 59
5 Synthesis Bernhard Häring 83
6 The Neo-Manualists 111
7 New Foundations for Moral Reasoning, 1970-89 141
8 New Foundations for a Theological Anthropology, 1980-2000 173
9 Toward a Global Discourse on Suffering and Solidarity 197
Afterword: The Encyclicals of Pope Benedict XVI 241