Christina ASTORGA. Catholic Moral Theology & Social Ethics: A New Method. New York: Orbis Books, 2014. pp. 571. $50.00 pb. ISBN978-1-62698-054-9. Reviewed by Peter BEISHEIM, Stonehill College, North Easton, MA 02357
Anyone familiar with the See/Judge/Act methodology of the 1930s Catholic Action Movement in Europe or the “Pastoral Circle’s” analytic model of Insertion/Social Analysis/Theological Reflection/Pastoral Planning favored by Peter Henriot, Joe Holland and the Center of Concern will immediately recognize the organizational structure of the text.
Aside from the Introduction in which Astorga lays out the varying developments in Moral Theology after Vatican II, A. divides the text into three major parts: Vision (See / Insertion), Norm (Judge / Social Analysis & Theological Reflection) and Choice (Act / Pastoral Planning). In the Vision section she integrates a number of key elements Culture, Religion, Scripture, Love, Grace and Community.
The Norm section highlights four social encyclicals: Rerum Novarum, Mater Magistra, Octogesima Adveniens, and Centesimus Annus. The use of these documents makes for interesting reading and reflection (at least, for this reviewer), but others could ask why these documents and not others.
The last section, Choice, is divided into two chapters. The first proposes an ethical methodology, comprised of holistic reasoning and virtue ethics, for resolving conflict. The second chapter examines Ignatian Discernment, very timely as our present Pope Francis is a Jesuit. It is also fortuitous that many of the issues raised by A. have also been raised in many of Francis’ homilies, addresses and communiqués.
A.’s text has the added values of being written by a women theologian from the Philippines. The feminist and global perspectives and dimensions integrated (“integration” is key to understanding A.) into the text broaden the reader’s mindset rather than narrowing it. An excellent read, highly recommended.