Catholic Moral Teaching

Unit 2 Study Guide


Study using:

Vocabulary                                                   QUIZLET

  1. Determinism

The philosophy that holds that every event, action, and decision results from something independent of the human will

  1. External Freedom

When we are limited by factors outside our control (poverty, status, etc.)

  1. Internal Freedom

When we are limited by factors inside our control (fear, addiction, etc.)

  1. Free Will

The power of acting without constraint

  1. Freedom

The power rooted in reason and will, to perform deliberate actions in one’s own will

  1. Human Reason

The ability to think about the truth

  1. License

unbridled , excessive, undisciplined freedom that abuses true liberty

  1. Ignorance

Simply not knowing what we should do

  1. Inadvertence

Not paying attention/being distracted

  1. Duress

When we are forced to do something under a threat

  1. Inordinate Attachment

Limiting oneself for a lower goal rather than higher goal, trading eternal happiness for temporary pleasure

  1. Fear

Overwhelming sense that evil cannot be overcome

  1. Habit

Repeated behaviors that are difficult to overcome

  1. Moral Object

The moral content of an action that suggests whether the action is directed toward the true good

  1. Moral Intention

The aim/objective of a course of action

  1. Moral Circumstances

The surrounding details including the consequences

  1. Conscience

A practical judgement of reason where a person recognizes an action as good or evil

  1. Imputable

Ascribed, attributed, or definitely linked to a specific accountable person, or entity

  1. Law

The ordinance of reason for the common good, promulgated by the one who is in charge of the community

  1. Natural Law

How the law of God applies to human morality

  1. Divine Law / Eternal Law

The law from God/unchanging truth

  1. Revealed Law

The laws given in the Divine Revelation

  1. Old Law

The law of Moses/Old Testament

  1. New Law

The laws of civil Government

  1. Civil law

Governmental laws regulating the interaction between members of a group

  1. Church law

The laws of the Church/Canon Law

        27. Passions


  1. Morally Neutral

Actions neither good nor evil

  1. Values

Values are certain standards that we deem worthwhile and valuable.

  1. Principles

Principles are positive guidelines for living out our values.

  1. Norms

Norms are more concentrated formulated principles.

  1. Erroneous Conscience

Misguided and misinformed judgement of moral reasoning, which happens when a person attempts to follow a poorly formed conscience resulting in a wrong decision

  1. Informed Conscience

The result of developing one’s conscience by the constant, honest examination of conscience in light of natural and revealed law

  1. Lax Conscience

The result of ignoring/failing to use one’s conscience, not reflecting on moral decisions/actions

  1. Human Act

The action of humans

Concepts to Know

  1. What is St. Thomas’ definition of Law?

The ordinance of reason for the common good, promulgated by the one who is in charge of the community

  1. List the four criteria for a good law (slide 11 from the Slide Presentation)

Law must be an ordinance (rule) of reason (reasonable), for the common good (not simply a private interest), given by a legitimate, competent authority(someone who has the power and ability to do so), promulgated to the community (clearly and openly proclaimed, also, usually in a written code)

  1. List the six Precepts of the Church

you shall attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of obligation, you shall confess your sins at least once a year, you shall humbly receive your creator in Holy Communion at least during the Easter season, you shall keep the holy days of obligation, you shall observe the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence, the faithful also have the duty of providing for the material needs of the Church, each according to his abilities

  1. What are the Precepts of the Church (explain why they exist)

The precepts of the church are the minimal obligations of Catholics:

1. attend mass on Sundays

2. confess your sins at least once a year

3. humbly receive Holy Communion at least during Easter season

4. keep holy the holy days of obligation

5. observe the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence

6. The faithful have the duty of providing for the material needs of the Church, to his ability

  1. Why does Cardinal Wolsey want a son for the king?

He wants an heir to King Henry’s throne

  1. Why does Sir Thomas throw the cup into the water, then give it away?

The cup symbolizes corruption since it was given to him as a bribe

  1. In the beginning of the movie, why doesn't Sir Thomas allow his daughter Meg to marry Will?

Will was a devout protestant

  1. Why does the king want Sir Thomas to agree with him regarding the divorce?

He likes Sir Thomas and wants to remain friends with him and his family, while also not wishing to get rid of Sir Thomas for Cromwell

  1. Why doesn't Thomas More tell his wife a direct statement about his thoughts on the king's divorce?

So she won’t have to lie under oath if he is taken to court 

  1. Describe Richard Rich after you view the end of the movie.

A selfish and power-hungry man who will do anything for power, even if this means lying upon oath to court

  1. List the three "constitutive elements" or "sources" of the morality of human acts (p.50).

The moral object (what),  the intention or motive (why),  the circumstances (who, were, when , and how)

  1. List the two rules that govern intentions (p.53).

1)Keep the intention good   2) the end does not justify the means

  1. List the two rules of morality related to moral objects (p.52).

Your acts must promote the true good of humans and must ensure one’s actions always conform to the objective norms of morality

  1. List five examples of sins that are "intrinsically evil."

Murder, rape, abortion, euthanasia, stealing

  1. Which of the moral determinants is the "subjective" dimension of morality?


  1. What does it mean to say that an action is “intrinsically evil”?

There are no circumstances where the specific action will be good; it will always harm our humanity and relationship with God in some way

  1. What is the “means”?

A method, course of action, or instrument by which something can be accomplished

  1. Do the ends justify the means?


  1. How do the moral circumstances affect a moral decision? Provide at least three specific ways.

When the action occurs (coming late to a kid’s game vs. when wallet was stolen), How (the means), and where (screaming “fire” in movie theater vs beside a fireplace)

  1. When can an action that is intrinsically evil become good?

They can never be justified

  1. According to the textbook (p.57), how does the story of the elephant and the blind men help us to understand moral decision making?

If you are blind and feeling only a part of the truth, you will get a different idea that is far from the truth. Therefore, we must inspect every option in order to get a clearer idea of our situation.

  1. List five qualities of a person you should go to when you are trying to make a difficult moral decision.

A positive person, one who genuinely loves you, a prudent person who will tell you the truth, a Christ-like person who is compassionate, and one who gives you the freedom to make your own decisions

  1. Why is it important to consider alternatives when making a moral decision?

It is important because good moral decisions are often difficult to make without considering the evil options that could be made.

  1. What is the decisive factor (moral determinant) when considering whether an action is morally good or evil?


  1. What is the role of the Magisterium with regard to morality?

The Magisterium must teach about moral principles  when human affairs concerning the fundamental rights of people in society are violated, given the gift of infallibility by Jesus to teach correctly and without error.

  1. What is the gift of infallibility?

When the Pope teaches about a new Doctrine of the Church, he will speak without error or sin

  1. List three examples of limits to EXTERNAL freedom.

Poverty, social status, tyranny

  1. List two examples of limits to INTERNAL freedom.

Fear, Addiction

  1. What does it mean to say that "human freedom is not absolute"?

This means that humans are morally unable to perform certain actions that are intrinsically evil if they have formed a good conscience. Although one is able to do whatever they want, there will be consequences to these actions, especially if they are morally wrong and against the law.

  1. List the six traditional impediments to freedom.

Ignorance, Inadvertance, Duress, Inordinate Attachments, Fear, and Habit

  1. What makes an action more or less "imputable"?

When determining whether an action is more or less imputable, one must consider the circumstances of the action. If the circumstances were insufficient or did not support the evil action, then the act is more imputable, and you will be blameworthy

  1. What does it mean that a law needs to be "promulgated"?

Law should be announced in such a way that people can be expected to know it

  1. What does it mean to say that the New Law is the "Law of Grace"?

It gives us God’s help to love obediently, through faith and the graces of the sacraments

  1. What list summarizes the Old Law? The New Law?

Old law- ten commandments    new law- Sermon on the Mount

  1. Does having strong feelings make a person more holy?


  1. Who is the fundamental norm of Christian morality?


  1. What does it mean to say that conscience is "practical"?

Our consciences given to us by God applies what we know to be true about good. By applying this inherent knowledge of what is good, we can make the right decision and avoid evil more easy in real-world situations.

  1. What is the definition of conscience provided on p.122?

A practical judgement of reason that helps a person decide the goodness or sinfulness of an action or attitude.

  1. What was the image that the young Native American used in order to explain the concept of erroneous conscience?

The young Native American discusses a spinning triangle in one’s heart, which spins when a person does wrong and causes pain to the heart. After doing wrong for so long, the triangle will dull, allowing evil to become easier to do in one’s life.

  1. Explain why conscience is not simply following the majority opinion. What are the problems with this approach to conscience?

Just because everyone else is doing it, does not make it okay. This view surrenders personal responsibility. Its idea of correct behavior is to conform to popular opinion and practice.

  1. According to Sigmund Freud, what is the "superego"?

The leftover rules of childhood that we carry around in our subconscious

  1. Is conscience merely the voice of an angel or demon influencing us?


  1. When should we follow our conscience? Is there a time where we should not follow our conscience?

We should always follow our conscience and try to correctly form it, because it is our way of knowing the person that God wants us to be.

Be prepared to identify the moral object, intention, and circumstances when given various examples of moral decisions. Then, be prepared to morally evaluate the action as good or evil. If the action is evil, be prepared to offer a justification/explanation of your evaluation.


John the rescue diver jumps out of a helicopter in order to save Irene from drowning. He saves her but dies in the process.

Moral object: John jumps out of the helicopter

Moral object: to save Irene

Moral circumstances: rescue diver, dies in the process, jumps from a helicopter,


Amanda has a surgery to adjust her chin, nose, and cheeks to make her look more pretty. The surgery isn’t necessary

Moral object: Amanda has surgery

Moral object: to make her more pretty

Moral circumstances: she aint happy with her body, the surgery isn't necessary


Altering her appearance by surgery is wrong because that's not who she is supposed to be.

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