In the last forty years, Roman Catholic moral theology has been experiencing revolutionary tension and change. In this compelling exposition, distinguished Jesuit moral theologian John Mahoney examines the events, personalities, and conflicts that have contributed, from New Testament times to the present, to the Roman Catholic moral tradition and its contemporary crisis, and interprets the fundamental changes taking place in the subject today. He surveys a wide range of topics, including papal infallibility, confession as a sacrament, the legacy of Augustine, the dramatic change in attitude to "salvation outside the Church," and the continuing impact on moral theology of the 1968 papal encyclical on birth control and of the Second Vatican Council.
'One of the most important works in moral theology ... It has no peer in English as a theological history of the discipline ... with its felicitous style and clarity of argument, this book should be equally captivating to the general reader.'
'his new book deserves to be read as an essay in the same genre of theological self-demystification - the most extended, and also the most elegant and entertaining example of its kind. He has written his indictment with lucidity and irony'
Journal of Theological Studies
'No short review, however expert, could do justice to the thought-provoking profundity of this book. Professor Mahoney can be fairly regarded as the supreme spokesman of Catholic moral theology in this country. And what a spokesman! On page after page he states the orthodox position - with a difference.'
'It is learned, admirably lucid, judicious, and deeply interesting.'
'lucid, witty, and learned'
'It will change the way people think, react, and behave ... Mahoney has given something without parallel, for which we can only thank him'
'It is impossible in a few words to do justice to the richness of the historical material or to the breadth and competence of the author. His judgement on the contemporary state of moral theology is both balanced and courageous.'
Terence Kennedy, Studia Moralia
'This is an important book, scholarly authoritative. It is also very engagingly written. There is no other book like it in this area.'
Methodist Church Overseas Division Annotated Booklist
'This work is a comprehensive and penetrating survey of the factors that have shaped Roman Catholic moral theology ... an invaluable insight into the way the Roman Catholic Church has functioned and does function as a source of moral thought and instruction.'
'this work by Professor Mahoney is particularly welcome. ... The work is attractively written and well researched ... the work will be very valuable for anyone teaching or studying moral theology.'
Studies in Christian Ethics
'the most enlightening book on theology that I have read in over 20 years. ... Exceptional clarity and sophistication characterize each chapter, and yet, because the prose is so lucid and unaffected, there is no sense of pedantry or, worse, slippery evasion. ... An excellent book is, by definition, both impossible to summarize and ever richer on rereading. This is such a book.'
'The publication of this book puts moral theologians, and students of moral theology, in John Mahoney's debt. He has given us a magisterial review of the themes, trends and doctrines which have given shape to moral teaching in the Church down the centuries. It is judicious, wise, and warmed occasionally with an affectionate humour.'
Maurice Reidy, Holy Cross College, Dublin, The Heythrop Journal
Introduction; Bibliography; The influence of Auricular Confession; The legacy of Augustine; Nature and supernature; 'Teaching with authority'; Subjectivity; The language of law; The impact of Humanae Vitae; A pattern in renewal?; Index