Shaping the Moral Life: An Approach to Moral Theology

By Klaus Demmer; James E. Keenan et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
HISTORICAL RETROSPECTIVE: DEFINING MOMENTS

A council does not normally happen like a bolt out of the blue sky; it is always preceded by a history—long and full of changes—that prepares its appearance. So too for the Second Vatican Council: It tried to recognize the signs of the time and find answers to questions affecting contemporary society. Those questions were not entirely new; in fact, they had been accumulating in the course of a growing exchange between moral theology and other currents of thought. Nevertheless, the council was an unavoidable reference point for the ensuing work of moral theology, and it marked a very clear turning point in the history of the field.

Moral theology itself was a forerunner that, in spite of different crises, prepared the ground for the council. This process took place at a very different pace in many countries and cultural circles. As with other disciplines, moral theology's developments depended on alternating phases and the influence of political factors within the Church. Not surprisingly, therefore, countries whose Churches could rely on a highly developed theology at a university level came to play a significant role in preparing the intellectual and spiritual milieu of the council. The French- and German-speaking worlds were particularly decisive in shaping the course and the results of the council.


The Influence of the German-Speaking World

The council's assertions concerning moral theology would have been unthinkable without the influence of the type of moral theology that is associated with

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