A journal of academic theology

VATICAN II AND THEOLOGICAL ETHICS

This note, extended into an article to commemorate Vatican II, argues that any study of the council and theological ethics must attend to World War II’s devastating impact on the field. The war moved European ethicists to repudiate the three centuries of moral manuals and propose a theological ethics based on conscience acting out of charity. In Latin America and Africa, “suffering” emerges as the overarching concern, while in the United States, the language of Catholic social teaching enters the fields of fundamental moral theology, sexual ethics, and bioethics. Looking back on the council today, ethicists see that the agenda of Gaudium et spes has become theirs.