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date: 24 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article discusses the background, aim, contents, and influence of John Mahoney's The Making of Moral Theology: A Study of the Roman Catholic Tradition, in order to illustrate its long-standing significance. The work is a tour de force. Nothing like it has given Roman Catholics a key to unravelling the endless debates that continue to dominate the field of moral theology. Moreover, it directs us toward a suspicion of eliminating distinctions and reminds us to trust more in the Spirit and less in the call for precipitous decisions. It has prompted and sustained research on the magisterium and authority, natural law, the need to reintegrate the ascetical or spiritual with the moral, the history of moral theology, and the primacy of the conscience. It became the foundational text for revisionists today, and above all it alerted us to the hermeneutics that form the context for teaching and listening, and provided the clergy and the laity with a way of understanding how it is that we are where we are today. In short, it gave us what we were lacking: an understanding and a critique of the moral tradition.

Keywords: Roman Catholics, moral theology, moral tradition, magisterium, authority, natural law

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