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Moral Theology after Humanae Vitae: Fundamental Issues in Moral Theology and Sexual Ethics

by D. Vincent Twomey, SVD (Dublin, Ireland: Four Courts Press. 2010. 218 pp.)

In his book, Father D. Vincent Twomey, SVD, professor emeritus of moral theology of the Pontifical University, Maynooth, Ireland, discusses some of the major developments in fundamental moral theology sparked by the publication of Pope Paul VI’s controversial 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae (On Human Life). The book was published in April.

Within the broader cultural background of modernity, Father Twomey analyzes the dissent that followed the encyclical, and he outlines an alternative to the dissent — a moral theology based on the recovery of virtue as the context for moral reflection and on a new appreciation of the nature of sexuality. He also offers a positive appreciation of the often neglected “doctrinal content” of Pope Paul’s encyclical, in order to explain why Humanae Vitae remains a “sign of contradiction” within the Church and beyond.

In the book’s epilogue, Father Twomey says,

Reflecting on the situation in the Church, in theology, and in society forty years after the publication of Humanae Vitae, the overriding impression I am left with is that at the root of the moral crisis common to all three is lack of faith in God.

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