Prophecy and Diplomacy: The Moral Doctrine of John Paul II : a Jesuit Symposium

By John J. Conley; Joseph W. Koterski | Go to book overview

14. COMPREHENSIVE ETHIC
OF LIFE

Some Observations on
Evangelium Vitae

Arthur R. Madigan, S.J.

PERMIT ME TO BEGIN with a feature of the encyclical Evangelium Vitae that I find extremely helpful. Instead of simply restating a series of categorical prohibitions (of abortion, suicide, euthanasia, and so on), and arguing for these prohibitions one by one, the encyclical situates these prohibitions within the larger positive context of the gospel of life. I find this helpful. Helpful in what sense? Arguments for categorical moral prohibitions have a way of being less than cogent. However self-evident the premises, however rigorous the logic, arguments for categorical prohibitions have a way of leaving some of the audience unconvinced.

There are always people who say “I just don't see it. You haven't proved it to me.” The encyclical speaks to this problem. In effect, it says: “Stand back for just a moment from the individual issues and arguments. They all really come down to one basic issue: Are you for life, or are you against life? Search your mind and your heart: which side are you on? Surely you see that deep down you want to be on the side of life. Once you get a grip on that fact, on the deep affirmation of your own heart and mind, you can start to appreciate what the gospel of life means in the details of your life.”

This is the right move to make, both theologically and pastorally. The culture that Pope John Paul II terms a “culture of death” has, however, a subtlety and complexity that chapter 1 of the encyclical only begins to explore, but that we will have to explore and understand if we expect to promote the gospel of

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Prophecy and Diplomacy: The Moral Doctrine of John Paul II : a Jesuit Symposium
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • Abbreviations xi
  • Introduction - Prophecy and Diplomacy: the Moral Teaching of John Paul II xiii
  • I - Fundamental Moral Theory 1
  • 1. Ethics of the Person 3
  • 2. Ethics and Salvation 24
  • 3. Moral Subjectivity 40
  • 4. Moral Conversion 52
  • 5. Morality and Society 82
  • 6. Moral Theology 115
  • II - Applied Moral Theory 173
  • 7. Ethics of Culture 175
  • 8. Demographic Ethics 190
  • 9. Economic Ethics 211
  • 10. Marital Ethics 247
  • 11. Relational Ethics 270
  • 12. Morality and Gender 285
  • 13. Morality and Family Rights 293
  • 14. Comprehensive Ethic of Life 306
  • III - Postscript: John Paul Ii's Vision 313
  • 15 Homily 315
  • About the Contributors 319
  • Index 321
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