The Catholic approach to morality
Who am I?
Who are you?
What does it mean to be human?
What exists outside myself?
What is the universe?
How does the universe work?
Where did I come from?
Where did you come from?
Where did the universe come from?
Where am I going?
Where are you going?
Where is the universe going?
How do I get to my ultimate end?
How do you get to your ultimate end?
How does the universe get to its ultimate end?
The Catholic Church believes:
- We individually believe some accurate and some inaccurate answers to these questions. Our discussion should be a mutual search for accurate answers.
- Accurate answers do exist because reality is real. We human beings find accurate answers using reason/intelligence/intellect.
- THE Objective Moral Order is all the accurate answers.
- THE Natural Law is how we achieve true happiness in the reality of the Objective Moral Order. Natural Law is dictated by the accurate answers to the above questions.
- THE Revealed Law – in the Bible – breaks open the Natural Law.
- Ethics/Norms of Behavior are applications of Natural Law to particular situations Each person’s ethics / norms of behavior derive from each person’s answers to the above questions. Reason dictates moving from the general to the specific.
- Together, we can get a much more accurate view of the Objective Moral Order and of the Natural Law and of the Revealed Law and of ethics than each of us can obtain individually.
- “Jesus Christ, when communicating to Peter and to the apostles his divine authority and sending them to teach all nations his commandments, constituted them as guardians and authentic interpreters of all moral law, not only, that is, of the law of the Gospel, but also of the natural law, which is also an expression of the will of God, …” Humanae Vitae/Of Human Life; encyclical letter of Pope Paul VI # 4
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
- I am the Lord your God; You shall not have strange Gods before me.
- You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
- Remember to keep holy the Lord’s day.
- Honor your father and mother.
- You shall not kill.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
- You shall not covet your neighbors wife.
- You shall not covet your neighbors goods. Exodus 20:1-17
…. the [Ten Commandments] point out the conditions of a life freed from the slavery of sin. The [Ten Commandments are] a path of life: CCC # 2057
According to Scripture the Law is a fatherly instruction by God … CCC # 1975
“… man cannot find true happiness—toward which he aspires with all his being-other than in respect of the laws written by God in his very nature, laws which he must observe with intelligence and love.”
Humanae Vitae/Of Human Life; encyclical letter of Pope Paul VI # 31
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the land.
Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:3-10 CCC # 1716
BEATITUDES: The teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount on the meaning and way to true happiness (cf. Mt 5:1-12; Lk 6: 20-23). … CCC Glossary
… The moral law presupposes the rational order, … All law finds its first and ultimate truth in the eternal law. Law is declared and established by reason as a participation in the providence of the living God, … CCC # 1951
The morality of human acts depends on:
- the object chosen;
- the end in view or the intention;
- the circumstances of the action.
The object, the intention, and the circumstances make up the “sources,” or constitutive elements, of the morality of human acts. CCC # 1750
A morally good act requires the goodness of the object, of the end, and of the circumstances together. An evil end corrupts the action, even if the object is good in itself (such as praying and fasting “in order to be seen by men”). CCC # 1755
The circumstances, including the consequences, are secondary elements of a moral act. They contribute to increasing or diminishing the moral goodness or evil of human acts (for example, the amount of a theft). They can also diminish or increase the agent’s responsibility (such as acting out of a fear of death). Circumstances of themselves cannot change the moral quality of acts themselves; they can make neither good nor right an action that is in itself evil. CCC # 1754
Imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished or even nullified by ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit, inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors. CCC # 1735
A good intention (for example, that of helping one’s neighbor) does not make behavior that is intrinsically disordered, such as lying and calumny, good or just. The end does not justify the means. … On the other hand, an added bad intention (such as vainglory) makes an act evil that, in and of itself, can be good (such as almsgiving). CCC # 1753
One may not do evil so that good may result from it. CCC # 1756
There are acts which, in and of themselves, independently of circumstances and intentions, are always gravely illicit by reason of their object; such as blasphemy and perjury, murder and adultery. CCC # 1756