“Historical paradigms and the challenge of the present”


In the third day of the Moral Theology Congress, the main aim of the well-known Spanish Redemptorist moral theologian Marciano Vidal was to configure a sufficiently valid discourse on the moral aspect of Christian living. He did this from two aspects: ad intra and ad extra. On the one hand, he viewed a public discourse on Christian morals from within the faith itself so that the entire body of Christian belief would be conserved. On the other hand, he visualized moving outward from the same faith in a manner that could be understood by all in a given polity; this would obviously permit space to enter into a dialogue with other discourses.

Vidal divided his talk into two main parts (what he called “moments”) to achieve his main aim: 1)    Historical Moment: in going through the Christian moral tradition as it developed in the course of history (Primitive and Patristic; Medieval Scholastic theology; Post-Tridentine Casuistry and the Rennovation at the Vatican II), he showed the main peculiarities that the theological-moral discourse has taken. 2)    Systematic Moment: taking off from the teachings of Vatican II, he sought to respond to the demands of a would-be-Public Discourse, that would be critical and really ‘public’ at this present moment.


 The paper of the Italian moral theologian Giovanni Del Missier began with a clarification of the general terms with regard to the “new” media. Then, it enumerated some of the challenges the new media poses to moral theology: the epocal changes that encounter theological ethics; the cultivation of relationships through the internet; the construction of identity through the internet; faith and morals through the internet,…..etc.

The paper finally sought to offer sufficient ethical indications to navigate through the internet with sufficient awareness and security that would enable to avoid the dry dis-humanization that is inevitable in the “new” media.

This paper of Silvio Botero lists four of the “many conflicting situations” with regard to the contemporary family in the pastoral field:1)The illegitimate conjugal unions, 2)The unjustly abandoned innocent spouse, 3)The death of the conjugal love, 4)The problem of the divorced and the re-married. Because of health reasons he could not participate in the Congress and in his absence, Prof. Antonio Fidalgo, CSsR, presented the paper.

The ‘analogies’ considered in the paper in great detail for the pastoral solution of the above-mentioned pastoral difficulties (cases) are:

  • the parallel between the social doctrine of the Church and the moral doctrine of Christian marriage [eg., the terms ‘licit’ and ‘illicit’ that appears in the latter are not found in the former!]
  • the relationship between the sacraments of Penance and Matrimony, with regard to their respective historical evolution
  • the relationship established by St.Robert Belarmine between the sacraments of the Eucharist and Matrimony
  • the analogy between the ‘physical impotence’ and the ‘moral impotence’
  • the relation between the theology of marriage in the Orthodox Church and that of the Western Church
  • the prohibition for the Christians of divorce and the exception for the prohibition

Using the above-mentioned ‘analogies’, the paper finally proposes a way towards a few pastoral solutions.

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