Bilgrimage: Moral Theologians, on the Need for Doctrinal Change

At Bilgrimage, Bill Lindsey reflects on the German theologians’ response to the global consultation, in preparation for the Extraordinary Synod on Marriage and the Family

German Moral and Pastoral Theologians Respond to Pope Francis’s Questions about Sexual Morality and Family: Time for Significant Change

What strikes me as I read the statement is that it depends on a distinction that Catholic moral theologians (and Catholic theologians in general) have been making for a long time now: the magisterium offers Catholics an “idealized” understanding of human sexuality that does not take into account the experience of lay Catholics to whom this idealized teaching is handed down. Magisterial teaching on sexual ethics is very conspicuously not “received” by lay Catholics–particularly, as the document points out, regarding the issue of contraception.

The gap between the idealized, acts-centered, non-experience-based sexual ethical teaching handed down by the magisterium and the experience-based understanding of human sexuality lived by lay Catholics in their lives of graced discipleship continues to grow (see: issue of same-sex marriage), and the gap is becoming insupportable.

The German theologians call for an understanding of sexual ethics that continues to enshrine the ideals to which magisterial teaching points, but corrects the idealized, acts-centered, non-experience-based teaching of the magisterium by incorporating dimensions of care (a “pallial” dimension), emancipation, and reflectivity:

-full reflection at Bilgrimage

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