Morality: The Catholic View
As Alasdair MacIntyre notes in the preface, the work of Pinckaers attracted strong
and fully justified notice in this country with the publication in English of his The
Sources of Christian Ethics. As Pinckaers himself notes in the text, excellently translated
by Michael Sherwin, the interest should in no way be limited to Roman
Catholics. Morality recasts the earlier book in an argument that is both lower and
upper case catholic, and is accessible to readers and teachers outside the limited
circle of moral theologians and academic ethicists. Pinckaers contends that
Christian morality is not first of all about obligations but about happiness, understanding
that the happiness of union with God is our natural destiny made possible
by grace. The Sermon on the Mount is at the center of an approach to morality
that turns on the distinction between freedom for excellence and freedom of
indifference, the former understood as human flourishing and the latter as a neutral
capacity to choose between controversies. The proposal of Morality is thoroughly
Christ-centered, humanistic, and faithful to the magisterial teaching of the
Church. Warmly recommended.
If you want to have the experience of reflecting on Catholic morality as though
you were reading about it for the first time, treat yourself to Father Servais
Pinckaers Morality: The Catholic View. He has recovered the classical view of the
moral life as the quest for happiness and has presented it with disarming simplicity.
Bringing us back to the Sermon on the Mount and Romans 12 15, the writings
of Augustine and Aquinas, and the theme of natural law, he has freed those texts
from the layers of legalism which has hidden their liberating, spiritual powers for
moral living. By distinguishing freedom of indifference from freedom for excellence,
he has restored a wise vision of freedom. No one has shown better the role
of virtues as building blocks for morality. Catechists need to read this book.
Rev. Alfred McBride, O.Praem., Professor of Homilectics and Catechetics at Blessed
Pope John XXIII Seminary, Weston, Massachusetts
Father Pinckaers has given us a masterful exposition of Christian living. The clarity
and brevity of his presentation captured well by the translator make this book
ideal for classroom and parish use.
Readers will find the historical and systematic observations very informative.
Romanus Cessario, St. John s Seminary, Brighton, Massachusetts'
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