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Reading: Gula" ch 5


Since the renewal of MT in Vatican Il rhere has been a shift in the way MT has considered the human beiirg in the context of determining proper moral behavior.


Before Vat tr, MT had used the physicalist and classicist approach to morality and thus it

focused on human nature - MT looked d the natural tendEncies ofcommon bodily structures and functions and then derivcd absolute moral norms- Tte moral absolutes ofour Catholic serual ethics were derived from this consideration of human nature.

' E.9., artificial contrac€ption, direct strilizatio4 same-sex relationg in vitro fertilization are seen as violations ofnatural trumen 19p16r{uctive processes and


functions and thus are forbidden-

After Vatican rr, with the shift to a more personalist and historicist approac[ MT gave more

attention to the human p€rsoq in all hidher dimensioas and historical

development. There

effort onlhe part of MT to adequdety and compreheusively consider the human This shift from human nature to the human person altowd Irat to determine what was




moral based on what would truly lead to the fult flourishing of the human person who is in




history and in community. There are general moral norms ihat were held as applicable to all


persons but there is also the recopition tlrat new knowledge about the human

dwelopments in society and culturg and new ways of poliiical and economic

can lead to new ways to understand what it means to be fully human in the world. With this



new approach ofcomprehensively considering the human pilsoq n"* O.tu uOo,* *trut it

means to be human can lead to revisions of specific moral norms to betrer serve the .

development ofhuman persons and human society. Much

ofthe Church,s social teachings



been shaped by this consideration ofthe human person.

E.9., tho recognition of basic human rights dr,WWU contrihrted to the shifts in the

Church's teaching on capital punishment and religious Aeedom.

Focus on human nature:




advantage - underscores what is common to all

disadvantage - does not express a person's fundamental


uses a deductive approach: general principles - universal nolms

Focus on human pmson



Captures the

uniqueness of persons without neglecting universally recognized human values

and moral obligations.

Uses an inductive approach - considers the

diversity and uniqueness of experiences of

persons regarding what it means to be fully human

Thc human person is


crcated in the image of God.

The assertion that

the human person is creared in the image of God affrms the sacredness and

The sociat teaching ofthe churcf, basd its affrrmaiion ofth


existence ofhuman riglrts on this basic truth oftrc nu*an p"rsJn as

dignity of wery person.

ofiuman person and the

being in the image of God.


God has so established a relationship with us t!,1 the human

person camot be propedy

disregard the spirituai

understood apart from God. (This is a critique ofideologies tiat

dimension oftrre human person and does not protect ttre-fteeaom to #orshif)



God remains ftithfirl to his relationship with us. Being in the image of God is irreversible. (No form of discriminatio4 abuse, or persecution cannot remove the inherent dignity of

human persons)


We all share a common human condition that is directed toward a common destinatiorl which is God (Insistence on solidarity, cooperatior1 and muhral respect for other even ifthey are

fiom different races, religions, etc.)


Human dipity does not ultimately depend on human achievement. (The weak, the sick, the disabled, the poor, those in the margins of society deserve protection and respecl as much es any human person - affrrms our objection to abortion, euttanasla, discrimination against minorities and the disabled)


If God is Triune and the relationship ofthe persons of the Trinity is mart€d by the giving and receiving of love, then there must also be a communitarian undersanding ofthe person who is

in the image of the Trinitarian God. A person cannot exist by himseltrherself but is always in

relation to others. A deeper participation in human community enhances the humanity of each person while failure to establish community diminishes the humanity of all. (a critique of

individualisr4 selfish competitioq and oth€r activities or *titudes tlar divide communities

and diminishes the human communion and fellowship)


The self-giving that is integral in the life ofthe Trinity must also be integral in the life ofa human person. There is a moral responsibility to slrare whatsver giftq talenls, or possessions

one has for the good of others. (Ihere is an oblig*ion to contrihrte to the colffnon good and help those in need)

Ibe human pcnron rs r rcletional bcing


Human existence does not precede relationship but is born out ofand nurnred by relationships. To be a human person is to be directed toward others. We are communal by nafire. l{e need to live in social groups with appropriate srucfitres uihich sustain human dignity and the common good.


There is an obligation to continually assess our laws, moral normq and structures of society

whether they fully promote the common good and communal living. (The Ctnrch changed its

view ofslavery capital punishmer4 and perseortion ofheretics. Previously these wer€ seen

as acceptable prsctices that help support and protect the good ofthe general society. New insiglrts on what human dignity requires made these practices as unacceptable because they violate human dignity and do not promote the uhimate good of society. The iszues of land reforrrl, squatting and inadequate housing for the poor pertain to how we se ornselveg as a

community and how serious we are to promote the good of all.) The humrn pcrton rs in embodied subject





To say that a person is a zubjbut is to say thar the human person is a moral agent with a certain

degree of autonomy and selfdaermination empowerdd to act sccording to his or her

conscience, in freedom and in

a consoience and an obligation to forn one's conscience.

To say that a person is a subject me.lls to say that a person must nev€r be used as an object or as a m€ans to an end. Persons should bdtrested as ends in themselves.

To say that the human person is an embodied zubject is to say that our human bodies are not

simply accessories to our humanity but are essential to our identity and integrity as persons.

We express ourselves as the image of God through our bodies. What concerns our bodies

concerns the whole person; our bodies are eesential to our humanity and how we relate as

humans. (This calls for a deep respect for our bodies and a rejection of whatever attitude, activity, or procedures that degrades the human body or separafes it from our hurnnnity -

prostitution, sale of organs, pomography etc.)

Our embodiment reminds us that our bodies are subject to the laws of the mperial world and we must take these taws into consideralion when we trear our bodies. We ari not to intervene


This implies a respect for the sanctity ofa person's

in our bodies in any way we watrt. We are obliged to protec't and cate for our bodies as an

integral dimensionof our humanity. Any improvemerils we seek for our bodies have

implications on what kind of person we se,ek to become. We must b careful thet whatever

manipulation or improvemeflts to our bodies we undertake would not undermine or diminish our humanity and our respect for the humrlnity of others.

a The human penon as historical subject





This implies that we respect the developmental process of each person. We need to consider

persons as persons on a joumey of growth.

We should adequately consider the moral responsibilities of persons in proportion to their capacities at each stage of development. We need to evaluate the moral culpability ofpersons according to their stage ofphysical, mental, emotional and moral development. (This calls for

leniency in judging childretr and adolescents rqgaxding their moral culpability)

We should always remember tlat p€rsons c:ln change and therefore there is always a chance for conversion. People change gndually and need to be encouraged constantly toward the good.

Cultures can develop and change through time and therefore we must be carefirl about formulating absolute moral norms based on qrltural factors.

Persons are fundamentally cqual but uniquety original.


This means that as we seek to promote what is universally good for all, rz're must also allow for

diversity in the expressions of what is morally good according to the unique culture and

background of individuals. We seek equal respect for each person while at the sa$e time we

appreciate the creative differences that exist in the ways persons seek to be moral.


We need to be balanced in how we make moral norms, promoting what is common for all while at the same time taking into consideration cultural differences- We therefore need to be open to learning fiom various traditions and cultures to increase our knowledge about what it

means to be tnrly human.


We must take into consideration the unique experiences ofpersons to inform our on-going

moral reflections.