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The Role of the Holy Spirit in Today's Moral Theology

Catholic Theological Society of America
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  • Communication
  • Education
  • Philosophy
  • Religious Science


The Role of the Holy Spirit in Today's Moral Theology Moderator: Mary Ann Dillon, St. Francis College of Pennsylvania Panelists: James Keating, Pontifical College Josephium John Popiden, Loyola Marymount University Maura A. Ryan, University of Notre Dame Referencing the comments Philip Keane made in his plenary address, James Keating focused his remarks on the relationship between spirit-inspired prayer and conscience. He suggested that the act of conscience-seeking-the-truth is the Spirit operating. In the process of deciding, the person experiences God communicating through the very goodness of human powers. "Conscience is the field upon which God stands in order to dialogue with the self and therefore with society." Thus one might understand obedience to conscience as an act of faith, a prayer. Maura Ryan recommended that, because of the unresolved tension between the charismatic and hierarchical/institutional forms of authority within the Church's teaching, any effort to make connections between pneumatology and ethics requires ecclesiological considerations. She isolated two particular places where the connections among pneumatology, ethics and ecclesiology would be especially helpful: discernment and the centrality of liturgy and prayer to moral formation. With regard to the first, Ryan raised questions about the Church's practice of discernment, "not just in the head but at the center of the community" as a necessary model for teaching individuals to practice discernment. In the second area, she raised questions about the kinds of liturgical experiences needed to reflect "our evolving understanding of God, of ourselves as a community of witness, and the meaning of right relation to others and to all of creation?" John Popiden concentrated his remarks on Keane's recommendation that, in any effort to connect moral theology with pneumatology, the natural aspect of Catholic moral theology be retained. Since moral theology is theology it "must acknowledge t

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