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Friday, 13 April 2018


The encyclical letter, Veritatis splendor is the document addressed by the Pope John Paul II to all the bishops of the Catholic Church regarding certain fundamental question of the Church’s moral teaching discussed salient issues. These salient issues will be discussed and critical reflection on the last chapter of the encyclical will be made in relation with other available materials. The Church knows that the issue of morality is one which deeply affects every person; it involves everybody including the persons who do not believe Christ. In fidelity to the mission entrusted to the Church and with the help of the Holy Spirit this document contributed to understand the moral demands in the areas of human sexuality, the family, social, economic and political life. In the tradition of the Church and in the history of humanity, her teaching represents a constant deepening of knowledge with regard to morality.
Succinctly, this encyclical established some theological virtues, human relationship, freedom, God’s commandments and moral conscience of the person and the role of the natural light of reason that finds its seat in the heart of human through which he realises himself. The whole discussion is substantiated with the background story of a young man who came to Jesus and says: (Mtt 19:16, "Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?")


The Holy mother Church surely knows that it is on the path of the moral life that the way of salvation is open to all human beings. Therefore, she places herself at the service of every individual and of the whole world. It reflects on the whole of the Church’s moral teaching, with the precise goal of recalling certain fundamental truths of the Catholic doctrine which, in the present circumstances, risk being distorted or denied. The pope recalls the admonitions of the Vatican II, which invited the scholars to take care for the renewal of moral theology in such a way that it will take root from the scripture. In particular, note should be taken of the lack of harmony between the traditional response of the Church and certain theological positions, encountered even in Seminaries and in Faculties of Theology with regard to questions of the greatest importance. Pope St. John Paul sent this encyclical to the bishops for sounding moral teaching with the intention of clearly setting forth certain aspect of doctrine which are crucial in facing what is certainly a genuinely crisis, since the difficulties which it engenders have most serious implications for the moral life of the faithful and for the communion in the Church, as well as for a just and fraternal social life.
Jesus’ striking answer to the question of the young man gives us advantage to know how to go about morality: The young man came to Jesus and said, teacher what good must I do to gain eternal life? (Mtt 19:16). He said to him, why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter heaven keep the law. The young man was glad. But, he refused that it is in following Christ that one can enter heaven. The Jesus’ latter striking answer spoilt the young man’s mind, that is, “go and sell all you have and follow”. This is an appeal to the greatest good. It is the echo from God who is the origin and goal of man’s life. Christian vocation is to be moral. And so, it challenges the Christians of their vocation to the world of charity. The Christians’ vocation is a call to discipleship. They follow Christ in freedom and they are morally responsible to this call by keeping his commandment cultivated in charity. Man’s freedom is not negated by his obedience to divine law but leads to the truth. (You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free, Jn 8:32). The morality of human act depends primarily and fundamentally on the object rationally chosen by the deliberate will, as is borne out by the insightful analysis, still valid today, made by St. Thomas. Taken from the word of the rich young man, Jesus is a good teacher and by that he confirms Jesus’ human person to be the model for morality. He is the source of man’s happiness. Jesus brings the question about morally good action back to its religious foundation which is God, who alone is goodness, fullness of life, the final end of human activity, and perfect. Jesus does not only limit moral good to the keeping of commandments but commandments are seen as a whole path involving a moral and spiritual journey towards perfection (Col 3:14)


The fundamental question which the moral theories mentioned above pose in a particularly forceful way is that of the relationship of man’s freedom to God’s law; it is ultimately the question of the relationship between freedom and truth. Pilate’s question about truth turns us the meaning of ultimate truth and origin of humility which has escaped human mind because of human right is being violated truth has been compromised and people take freedom wrongly to determine what is evil and good. This relativism becomes, in the field theology, a lack of trust in the wisdom of God, who guides man with the moral law.
Human freedom belongs to us as creatures; it is a freedom which is given as a gift, one to be received like a seed and to be cultivated responsibly. It is an essential part of that creaturely image which is the basis of the dignity of the person. Within that freedom there is an echo of the primordial vocation whereby the creator calls man to the true Good, and even more through Christ’s revelation, to become his friend and to share his own divine life. It is at once inalienable self-possession and openness to all that exists, in passing beyond self to knowledge and love of the other. Christ reveals, first and foremost, that the frank and open acceptance of truth is the condition for authentic freedom: “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32). Faith therefore, has moral content. It gives rise to and call for a consistent life commitment. This urges Christian to rediscover the newness of the faith. Faith is a lived knowledge of Christ, a living remembrance of his commitments, and a truth to be lived out, that is, our moral life testifies to the truth and faith that people may see it which becomes basis of our vocation. At the same time the content of this perfection consist in following of Jesus, sequel Christi once one has given up one’s own wealth and very self. God has endowed in man the natural law of reason to be able to know good or bad. It defines the rational order whereby man is called by the creator to direct and regulate his life and actions of the particular model. In order to perfect himself in his specific order, the person must do good and avoid evil, be concerned for the transmission and preservation of life, refine and develop the riches of the material world, cultivate social life, seek truth, practice good and contemplate beauty.
The Church’s teaching and in particular her firmness in defending the universal and permanent validity of the precepts prohibiting intrinsically evil acts. Church’s teaching should not been seen as hindrance to human freedom which contrast the today’s people’s understanding of moral life or morality. It should take to mind that no culture goes against the truth about natural morality because God is the author of culture. God is the supreme good and essential condition for morality, the supreme Good and the moral good meet in truth: the truth of God, the Creator and redeemer, and the truth of man created and redeemed by him. The goodness of God is seen in the saints with their holiness of life. Our Christian moral life is equipped with the reception of Holy sacraments that bind us to the community of God. This encyclical once more stresses the importance of moral theology as an apparatus to be used in explain the Church’s moral teaching: the service which moral theologians are called to provide at the present time is of the utmost importance for the good of the Church and humanity. The truth of this teaching was sealed on the Cross of the Blood of Christ: in the Holy Spirit, it has become the new law of the Church and of every Christian.
In a nut shell, this encyclical calls for consciousness and vigilance in the teaching of the word of God and doctrine so that it will not be compromised with the conjectures of this world that can mislead the faithful and people of goodwill. And so, with our baptism it is our responsibility with regard to Christian moral teaching to recall the essential characteristics of freedom, as well as the fundamental values connected with the dignity of human person and the truth of his acts

The pope recourse to Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of Mercy  to entrust ourselves, the sufferings and the joys of life, the moral life of believers and people of good will, and the research of moralists to Mary; because, it is to her that Jesus entrusted his Church and all humanity. The pope reminds the bishops and charges them to teach sound doctrine on the true discipleship of the Christian and with the help of the Holy Spirit they contributed to understand the moral demands.
Morality is the relationship of man’s freedom with the authentic good. Acting is morally good when the choices of freedom are in conformity with man’s true good and thus express the voluntary ordering of the person towards his ultimate end. A man must not act against his conscience unless he condemns himself and stands against his own conscience, the proximate norm of personal morality. A man must seek the truth and must make judgments in accordance with that same truth. He must not practice cunning, but openly state.

 John Paul II – VERITATIS SPLENDOR Addressed To All The Bishops Of The Catholic Church Regarding Fundamental Questions Of The Church's Moral Teaching (August 6,  1993).
Encyclical Letter: Redemptor Hominis.

Saint Thomas Aquinas, 15, 21 Summa Theologiae, 1-11

Thomas Pazhayampallil, S.D.B, Pastoral Guide Vol.1: Fundamental Moral Theology and Virtues, Kristu Jyoti Publication, India, 2004.

Charles E. Curran and Richard A. McCormit S.J. Moral Theology No 5: Official Catholic Social Teaching, Paulist Press, New York, 1986.

Karl H. Peschke, Christian Ethics: Moral Theology in the Light of Vatican II, Vol. 1, Theological Publication, India, 1996.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Paul J. Glenn, A Tour of the Summa of St. Thomas Aquinas, Theological Publications, India, 2004.

Oscar Lukefar, CM, We Live to Know, Love and service God, Liguori Publications, USA, 2010.

Austin Flannery, O.P. Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Document, Costello  Publishing Company, Inc, 1975.
The Holy Bible.

                  NOVEMBER 2016

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