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Despair

(808 words)

Author(s): Waldemar Molinski
1. Despair as a sin consists in the relinquishing of present or possible hope. It is, therefore, the voluntary rejection of a consciously recognized dependence of man upon his fellowmen and upon God, as well as of the corresponding duty of seeking perfection and salvation in harmony with them. The motives for despair can be various; it may be, for example, moral sloth (accidie, acedia) which shrinks from the effort of following Christ and which prefers earthly blessings to union with men or God; or …

Virginity

(2,816 words)

Author(s): Waldemar Molinski
To make a correct evaluation of the evangelical counsel of virginity, it is well to start with the specification of man through his sexual nature. Because of this sexual nature he can achieve a full realization of his being as a person only if his attitude to sex is an open one, in the sense that he places it at the service of an ordered self-love, love of neighbour and love of God. If he does this, he exercises the virtue of chastity. Now this sexual specification of man, calling for a free per…

Obedience

(3,341 words)

Author(s): Waldemar Molinski
1. For modern man with his belief in autonomy, obedience largely appears to be merely a necessary evil, not a virtue. In other words, people realize that without some obedience education and social life are impossible, but they would like to see it reduced to a minimum, on the ground that man’s goal should be maximum possible self-determination. This ideal can on this view only be attained if obedience is rendered superfluous. Such a conception of obedience stands in sharp contrast to the conviction, springing from Hellenistic philosophy, especially neo-Platonism, t…

Marriage - Parents

(4,700 words)

Author(s): Waldemar Molinski
Part of Marriage: 1. Institution and Sacrament 2. Parents 3. Family A. Parenthood 1. When parents bring a child into the world, they make use of their ability to participate in God’s creative power, which they do in a human and therefore analogous, but nevertheless unique manner. In giving new life, they share the work of the ultimate giver of all life. They are made more perfect through parenthood, as the child that has been given life opens up the well-springs of maternal and paternal love. Like God, who i…

Responsibility

(2,017 words)

Author(s): Waldemar Molinski
1. Responsibility obviously has to do with answering (for something, to somebody). More profoundly, it means disclosing oneself self when one’s action and, through it, one’s own self are called in question. Responsibility is therefore a specific personal attitude, since only a person can be called in question by another. There can be only indirect responsibility with regard to things, where one’s treatment of things has to be answered for to another. Responsibility only enters in insofar as one …

Birth Control

(3,357 words)

Author(s): Waldemar Molinski
1. The general problem. Birth control and regulation of births are expressions which are sometimes used synonymously, and sometimes to designate morally acceptable or unacceptable means of regulating the number of births. Regulation of births can mean promotion of births (which may mean artificial insemination), though it is usually used to restrict the number of births. Birth control can be attained by abstinence from sexual intercourse, abortion, or by the use of contraceptives. Limitation of bir…

Marriage - Institution and Sacrament

(12,905 words)

Author(s): Waldemar Molinski
Part of Marriage: 1. Institution and Sacrament 2. Parents 3. Family A. Sociology and History of Religion 1. Sociologically speaking, marriage is a sexual fellowship, the structure of which varies considerably according to general social conditions. Modern fieldwork in anthropology rebuts 19th-century evolutionary theories (especially that of Morgan) to the effect that marriage gradually developed from primitive promiscuity through various stages of group marriage (sexual relations of all the men with all the wom…

Life - Moral Theology

(2,869 words)

Author(s): Waldemar Molinski
Part of Life: 1. Natural Science 2. Moral Theology 1. The Right and Duty to Live. When moral theology considers the right to life and the duty to live, the necessity and value of preserving life, it has to examine how life can best and adequately serve the love of God, the neighbour and oneself. Its starting-point must be that the Bible and theology consider life to be a participation of man in the life of God, in such a way that earthly life makes possible and prepares for participation in eternal life. Since…

Scandal

(3,118 words)

Author(s): Waldemar Molinski
1. The notion of scandal. a) Functional definition. The personal development of the individual, like the cultural evolution of groups, is affected both by endogenous impulses, like creative ideas and the force they generate, and by exegenous impact, such as example and scandal. So the development of spiritual existence and culture is hindered not only by innate incapacity or failure but also by faulty upbringing and education and by scandals. Scandal, then, plays an ambivalent psychological and social role which religion and morality must take into account. We speak of scandal whe…

Temptation

(2,384 words)

Author(s): Waldemar Molinski
1. The nature of temptation is to be understood from the fact that man as a defective being is ordained to a perfection which transcends him. The impelling tendency to personal and therefore moral perfection is his mental orientation under the impulse of grace towards his fellow men and towards God. It comes to realization in the ordination of all human acts to the end of man, in proportion to his openness to the transcendent, that is, to the mystery of God, experienced though not capable of bei…

Charity - Love of Neighbour

(1,825 words)

Author(s): Waldemar Molinski
Part of Charity: 1. Virtue of Charity 2. Love of Neighbour 3. Charitable Organizations 1. Concept and problems. The love which is open to and interested in those close to us is universally recognized as a noble form of moral action. But the question arises as to who are our “neighbours” and how far should charity towards them go. The spontaneous answer of natural ethics is to distinguish between love of those nearest and dearest to us and readiness to help those outside this circle. Men feel bound to love others…

Merit

(2,589 words)

Author(s): Waldemar Molinski
The theological question of merit is concerned with the question of whether man can gain merit before God by his moral acts, especially when these acts are inspired by grace. One of the aspects of the problem is how far such a notion, which stems from human relationships, can be applied to the relationship of man to God. To avoid misunderstandings about the theological applicability of the concept, some remarks on how merit works between men may be desirable. 1. In human relationships, merit is understood as the claim for recompense which arises from actions performed on b…

Situation Ethics

(2,812 words)

Author(s): Waldemar Molinski
1. History of the problem. The term “situation” was introduced into the language of moral theology by T. Steinbüchel. It became a sort of technical term when “situation ethics” was condemned by Pius XII (Allocutions of 23 March and 19 April 1952: AAS 44 [1952], pp. 270ff., 413ff.; Instructio S. Officii, 2 February 1956; AAS 48 [1956], pp. 144f.; DS 3918-21). There is a situation ethics, in the sense of the condemnations here mentioned, when one bases oneself on the concrete circumstances of a moral act to regard as good or justifiable moral decisions whic…

Vow

(1,620 words)

Author(s): Waldemar Molinski
1. Vows are a phenomenon frequently met with in the history of religion. They are pronounced in the form of a promise to the divinity, usually in order to win favour or to secure a return of gifts, but also for reasons of moral purification, of gratitude and appreciation, or of dedication to God. Moral theology accordingly describes a vow as an act of divine homage by which man freely binds himself to the performance of a good work not of general obligation, which is better than its concrete opposite; bonum possibile et melius. The validity of a vow demands therefore a corresponding cap…

Integralism

(1,173 words)

Author(s): Waldemar Molinski
By integralism, we mean the tendency, more or less explicit, to apply standards and directives drawn from the faith to all the activity of the Church …

Indifferentism

(1,021 words)

Author(s): Waldemar Molinski
The notion of indifferentism became important in ecclesiastical usage in the 19th century, when it was used to designate pejoratively the religious and philosophical trends of modern times, especially of the Enlightenment, which rejected exclusive (dogmatic) forms of religion and ethics while accepting certain general principles. Indifferentism therefore may sum up the trends which allow more or less the same right…

Necessity - Moral Emergency

(1,065 words)

Author(s): Waldemar Molinski
Part of Necessity: 1. Philosophical 2. Moral Emergency Necessity may be pleaded when the appropriate direct methods are taken to ward off unlawful aggression. The notion of necessary self-defence always presupposes the absence of mens rea, and hence the conviction of the right to take direct measures. The concept is sometimes applied to the possible conflict between rights and duties. But such conflicts arise only in the sphere of the practical judgment. In theory, one’s rights embrace precisely what anothe…

Law - Theology and Moral Theology

(3,059 words)

Author(s): Waldemar Molinski
Part of Law: 1. Biblical 2. Theology and Moral Theology 3. Rule of Law 4. Philosophy of Law On the theology of law, see Old Testament Theology, Salvation - Theology A, Freedom, Law and Gospel, New Testament Theology - Pauline Theology, Sin - Sin and Guilt, Works. 1. A consideration of the notion of law in moral theology must start with the moral law and then proceed to the other types of law. The laws of nature and positive laws then appear as deficient modes of the moral law. By laws of nature we understand a rule for what must be, which those subject to it must follow by an intrinsic necessity. By positive laws, those which are imposed on man from outside, we understand a rule for what ought to be, to which those subject to it freely adhere, according …

Human Act

(6,670 words)

Author(s): Waldemar Molinski
A. Origin and Primary Characteristics 1. When described empirically, “human” or moral action must be said to begin with the personal (free, conscious) reaction to the conflict between the urge to instinctive self-satisfaction and the claims of society. It supposes the development of the consciousness of self as distinct from and opposed to the surrounding world, which is experienced as a set of claims contrary to the needs of an immanent self-fulfilment. The human act in the child occurs when it make…

Truth - Truthfulness

(4,123 words)

Author(s): Waldemar Molinski
Part of Truth: 1. Philosophical 2. Truthfulness 1. Any effort to analyse and co-ordinate the various approaches to truth in ethics is faced with the difficulty that the term “truth” is used on a variety of levels of meaning in philosophy and theology, the reason clearly being that man finds himself relying on truth and tied to it, while at the same time it is not something that he can control, since he is in the service of truth. A survey of the various ways in which truth has been understood also show…
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