Friday, December 9, 2016

"Charles E. Curran. Tradition and Church Reform: Perspectives on Catholic Moral Teaching" Reviewed by Kate Ward Marquette University


...15 scholarly essays published in various places from 1998 to 2015. An introduction summarizing the chapters, a conclusion reflecting on Pope Francis’s reforms, and cross-references between its chapters help the book cohere. It is divided into sections on social perspectives, bioethical and sexual perspectives, and reform. The chapters range from broad historical surveys, to deep dives on particular authors or topics, to critical or constructive works, yet two themes radiate throughout: Method matters and Tradition can change.

Both themes are evident in several chapters showing the magisterial command of history readers expect from
Curran, all of which would make excellent reading in an introductory course on moral theology. In particular,
chapters entitled “Overview of the Development of the Catholic Social and Political Tradition,” “Human Rights
in the Christian Tradition,” and “The Catholic Moral Tradition in Bioethics” provide sweeping overviews of their
respective topics in clear language, with key terms defined for neophytes. These chapters demonstrate the stake
of historical debates in moral theology for their contemporaries and for Christians today. Insights for specialists
are here as well: for example, Curran suggests that Catholics developed a bioethics well before other Christians
because of their tradition’s emphasis on the role of works in salvation...."

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