From the manuals of the classicist period, moral theology inherited an understanding of the moral act that is rooted in the classical conception of the human being as a rational animal. However, the new personalist and relational anthropology characterizing contemporary theology requires a corresponding revised idea of the nature of the moral act. This revision, it appears, cannot be definitively achieved unless a holistic material understanding of the moral life first replaces the merely formal and empty concept of it in the manualist tradition. Fortunately, this replacement seems to be occurring. The areas of sexual morality and social consciousness are those that suffer the greatest distortion in ethics based on classicist anthropology and, similarly, admit the greatest revision when transferred into the context of contemporary theological anthropology.
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