An Introduction to Catholic Ethics

Updated: Jul 7

by Lucien F. Longtin, SJ and Andrew J. P

Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.



The two authors involved in unfolding ethical issues for the reader are from Gonzaga High School in Washington, DC. In a clear and organized fashion, this book introduces students to the fundamentals of Catholic moral theology. After surveying a number of non-or pre-Christian ways of approaching ethics it addresses the question “What difference does Christianity in general or Catholicism in particular make to the Moral life?” Bu presenting testimony from the lives of great Christians and many of the key concepts that inform the catholic approach to morality this book provides a framework within which students can make authentically Christian choices.


The purpose of this textbook is to provide the student with a coherent and living approach to any ethical issue. Armed with an understanding of the basic tenets of Catholic ethical theory, the student will be well-equipped to deal with most of the issues or problems that he or she will confront in practice. This book does not directly deal with any of “the big issues’ in modern ethical debate; ideally in a full year Christian ethics course, the study of abortion, euthanasia, adultery, etc. will be reserved for the second half of the year.


The student of ethics must be content with general guidelines and observations about human nature that are, for the most part, true. This is not to say that there are not moral absolutes, i.e., moral rules that hold in every instance. But the observations that will be presented about human nature, sin Scripture, and the workings of natural law cannot be as precise as some students would like, This is not a problem with the discipline; it is simply the nature of ethics.

Each of the chapters has a written exercise: “This is a homework assignment to be done on the evening after the first class in this course. It will help your instructor to understand how best to help you learn. 1. For the next class write a description of your learning style.

A . Specifically, tell what learning experiences have been most rewarding for you up to now.

B. Tell whether you feel ou are especially gifted in one or another area of learning or in some skill.

C. Tell what educational techniques you would deem helpful or unhelpful and why.


Each chapter presents fruitful questions for the students to ponder and discern. The book is well written for all readers and provides an opportunity to think more deeply about our understanding of ethics.