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Liturgical Press

A Morally Complex World

Engaging Contemporary Moral Theology

James T. Bretzke, SJ

A Morally Complex World
A Morally Complex World

ISBN: 9780814651582, 5158

Details: 256 pgs, 6 x 9
Publication Date: 01/01/2004
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How can people celebrate the gospel of life in their daily lives? What about cloning? Is euthanasia morally acceptable in certain cases, such as terminal illness? In case of health reasons, mental illness, pregnancy due to rape, etc., is abortion morally acceptable? Are you in favor of the use of contraceptives, both natural and artificial?

A Morally Complex World will not answer such complex questions in detail, but it does provide a framework for trying to grapple better with the first question of how we should lead our moral lives in general, as well as some of the concrete ethical issues the other three questions raise. A Morally Complex World is an accessible introduction to moral theology covering the methodology of moral theology; basic concepts such as conscience and moral agency; natural law, moral norms; how the Bible can be used in Christian ethics; how to dialogue on contested ethical issues; how to consider sin and moral failure; and finally, how to mediate moral principles and moral teaching in a pastorally sensitive manner in concrete life situations.

Chapters are Mapping a Moral Methodology, The Natural Law and Moral Norms: Moving Along the Rational Claim Axis, Scripture and Ethics: Moving Along the Sacred Claim Axis, The Sanctuary of Conscience: Where the Axes Intersect, Modes of Moral Discourse: Navigating Towards a Common Ground, Navigating in the Morally Complex World: Casuistry with a Human Face, and Sin and Failure in a Morally Complex World.

James T. Bretzke, SJ, STD, is associate professor of theology and religious studies at the University of San Francisco, and an adjunct professor of moral theology at the Jesuit School of Theology-at-Berkeley. He has written three books, including Consecrated Phrases: A Latin Theological Dictionary, published by Liturgical Press, which won an award from the Catholic Press Association. He has also authored over fifty articles and scholarly reviews in the areas of Roman Catholic moral theology and cross-cultural ethics.

ISBN: 9780814651582, 5158

Details: 256 pgs, 6 x 9
Publication Date: 01/01/2004


The author has the art of engaging the minds of those he teaches so that they in turn engage his mind. The result is an appealing and readable work.

In this book, Bretzke is both realistic about the world we live in and faithful to what is central to Christianity as revealed by Jesus Christ. His work is a leaven to empower believers at many different levels of their pilgrim journey to be able to navigate through the complexity and ambiguity of a morally complex world as faithful disciples.
Catholic Books Review

Bretzke's diagrams, clear style, examples, glossary, and overall pastoral approach make the book an ideal text for undergraduates and study groups on Christian ethics. It also provides direction for specialists to further explore and develop questions of ethical method as they face the ever growing challenges of a morally complex world.
Theological Studies

This text will be ideal for undergraduates and so should be stocked for their use. . . .The text is clearly delivered and when material is particularly vexatious, helpful charts to facilitate understanding accompany it.
Catholic Library World

Those who are looking for an engaging, easy to read introduction to several critical issues of moral method will find this book illuminating. Bretzke not only brings the reader up to speed on the debates on method in Catholic moral theology, but he also provides fresh ways of thinking about it. His application of theory to cases, his instructions for engaging moral debate and for providing moral guidance should make this book a welcomed resource for theology students and anyone in pastoral ministry.
Richard M. Gula, S.S., Professor of Moral Theology, Franciscan School of Theology, Berkeley, California

Having taught in four countries on three continents, James Bretzke is no foreigner to our ‘morally complex world.' With the experienced intelligence of a well-traveled guide, he leads us with great facility through the difficult terrain of moral theology. Invoking the best of both our long-standing tradition and its contemporary interpreters, he comments on conscience, Scripture, natural law, sin and moral reasoning and, as he does, we inevitably find him as 'engaging' as the issues he proposes. A truly informative and enjoyable work.
James F. Keenan, S.J., Gasson Professor, Boston College

James Bretzke's new book combines the best of the old in Catholic moral theology with the best of the new. He integrates the attention to Scripture and Christian experience mandated by the Second Vatican Council with the clarity about moral norms and confidence in human moral reasoning that moral theology has traditionally shown. His accessible prose and clear examples make this an eminently ‘teachable’ book for undergraduates and other educated readers.
William C. Spohn, Santa Clara University

This reader-friendly and personal text is informed by the best in classical and contemporary theology. Directed to those who are not afraid of the pluralism, ambiguity, and complexity involved in ministering in the contemporary world, this book in fundamental ethics distinctively develops both the sacred and rational dimensions of moral decision-making, thus offering a needed and necessary addition to the field.
Ed Vacek, Weston Jesuit School, Cambridge, Massachusetts

A Morally Complex World: Engaging Contemporary Moral Theology is a fine contribution to Catholic moral theology. . . . Diversity, complexity, and intelligence— yes.