“Intrinsically Evil” and Moral Judgement (3): Pastoral Care

This is the third part of the paper by Professor Alain D. Thomasett to the study day held in Rome by bishops from France, Germany and Switzerland, in preparation for the 2015 Family Synod.

The translation is my own, taken from the French original published here with the full texts of all six papers.

For the first and second parts of my translation, see:

“Intrinsically Evil” and Moral Judgements: the Subjective Perspective

“Intrinsically Evil” and Moral Assessments: Historical Developments

B) The pastoral care of those in situations of failure

A second consequence of taking into account the historical dimension of our lives regards the pastoral care of those in situation of failure. Faced with difficult decisions that risk leading to a breach of the requirements of the Gospel, the Church should be able to understand three complementary aspects.

1 – remember that the God of Jesus Christ is a loving God who wants not death but life and happiness, who calls everyone to flourish in a path of growth and holiness, which is forgiveness and mercy for those who are struggling under the weight of the burden.

2 – enlighten the conscience of those person recalling the objective benchmarks which usually define (and with the nuances previously made) pathways of life or the dangers of dehumanization in emotional relationships. Often the second point is understood only in society and among Christians.

3 – support these people in their discernment of life, leaving the last word to their own conscience,

The development of what Pope Francis calls the “art of the accompaniment”, is based also on the expectation that the Christian narrative offers to every man the possibility of constructing a meaning to his existence, beyond the breaks on his journey. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ assure the believer that the story of his life as chaotic as it is, can find a new coherence and that he can discover it through a life of dedication through all the trials. It would be a ministry that does not despair of the sinner and does not despair, avoiding locking him in a simple denunciation of evil, but looking at the good he can do.

In this context, ethical virtues (justice, chastity, mercy…….) have much to contribute to complete ethical standards. It permits the development of inner attitudes inspired by the Gospel and that predispose one to do good. The virtues orient the subject to a growth path and avoid obsessing only about consideration of prohibitions and evils to be avoided. They contribute to the internal formation of subjects that they further integrate the values ​​of respect, generosity, self-giving and openness to life, and they do it in a way that always reinvents itself in light of the circumstances and events of life.

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