The author discusses some of the major developments in fundamental moral theology which were sparked off by the publication of the hugely controversial encyclical, Humanae Vitae (1968), as well as the impact of its rejection by many leading moral theologians.
Within the broader cultural background of modernity, Professor Twomey analyses this dissent and attempts to sketch an alternative 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 attempts a positive appreciation of the generally neglected doctrinal content of Pope Paul VIs encyclical that shook the world when it appeared in order to explain why Humanae Vitae remains to this day a sign of contradiction within the Church and beyond.
D. Vincent Twomey is professor emeritus of moral theology, Pontifical University, Maynooth.
Father Twomey is professor emeritus of moral theology at the Pontifical University of St Patricks College, Maynooth. He has written many books on moral theology and one on Pope Benedict XVI. The encyclical Humanae vitae was issued in 1968 by Pope Paul VI and viewed as controversial at the time and since. Many Catholic theologians consider it mistaken in its content and intention. Father Twomey appears to side with the sceptics in that he sets out to justify the dissent from the encyclical and to establish an alternative moral code-at least new attitudes - based on virtue. He addresses sexuality in the context of passion and love and makes a case for the reinstatement of chastity as the central virtue. Since the ig6os there has been a battle within the Catholic Church between those who want to embrace modernity and adopt a more compassionate attitude to human sexuality and those who are conservative and seek to perpetuate the old ways. No side has won out and the pendulum has swung back and forth over the decades. There is no doubting which side Father Twomey is on and what he wishes to contribute to the debate.
- Books Ireland, May 2010
Fr Vincent Twomey, Professor Emeritus of moral theology in the Pontifical University of Maynooth, has (in my opinion) long since established himself as the foremost Irish moral theologian of our time.
He has also been almost a lone voice among the ranks of clergy, religious, and theologians in his courage in proclaiming the beauty and truth of Church teaching with regard to faith and morals. This book furthers his reputation in both of these respects.
Since one of the characteristics of the authors approach is his concern for truth and his recognition that appreciation of moral truth is not possible without virtue, I find much to recommend in the book. It is a work both of intellectual and of pastoral import that ought to be widely read particularly by dissenting moral theologians.
I suspect, however, that it wont be, probably for the same reasons that the author elaborates when dealing with the background to the widespread rejection of the teaching of Humanae Vitae.
In contrast to the sterile, legalistic, approaches to moral theology that have largely characterised debates to date concerning Humanae Vitae, the author returns to the venerable tradition of the Church in his preference for an approach that emphasises virtue.
- Kevin OReilly, The Irish Catholic, 29 April 2010