Ethics and Moral Law

This page is under re-construction. 

I. Comprehensive Texts (General & Special Ethics)

  • A Brief Text-Book of Moral Philosophy, by Charles Coppens, 1835-1920 (New York: Schwartz, Kirwin & Fauss, 1895; copyright 1895 by the Catholic School Book Company). Available on Internet Archive and Open Library (Digitizing sponsor: MSN; Book contributor: University of California Libraries).
  • A Manual of Modern Scholastic Philosophy, Volume II: Natural Theology (Theodicy), Logic, Ethics, History of Philosophy, by Cardinal Mercier and Professors of the Higher Institute of Philosophy, Louvain, authorized translation and eighth edition by T.L. Parker and S.A. Parker, with a preface by P. Coffey, Ph.D. (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co.; St. Louis: B. Herder, 1917). With Imprimatur. Available in various formats at Internet Archive and Open Library. The third impression (1922) is available at Internet Archive.
  • A Manual of Moral Theology for English-Speaking Countries, Volume I, 5th and revised edition, by Rev. Thomas Slater, S.J. (London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne, 1925) With Imprimatur. From microfilm. Available in various formats at Open Library and Internet Archive.
  • A Manual of Moral Theology for English-Speaking Countries, Volume II, 3rd edition, by Rev. Thomas Slater, S.J., with notes on American legislation by Rev. Michael Martin (New York, Cincinnati, Chicago: Benziger Brothers, 1908). With Imprimatur. Available in various formats at Internet Archive and Open Library.
  • Moral Briefs: a Concise, Reasoned and Popular Exposition of Catholic Morals, by John H. Stapleton (New York, Cincinnati, Chicago: Benziger Brothers, 1904). With Imprimatur. Available in various formats at Open Library and Internet Archive.
  • Moral Philosophy: Ethics, Deontology and Natural Law, by Joseph Rickaby, S.J. (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1918). May be read online at the Jacques Maritain Center. A new impression of the fourth edition (London, New York, Bombay, Calcutta, Madras: Longmans, Green and Co., 1919), with Imprimatur, is available in various formats at Internet Archive and Open Library.

II. General Ethics

Law: Natural, Divine Positive, and Human

  • The Natural Law: A Study in Legal and Social History and Philosophy, by Heinrich Rommen (1936), trans. Thomas R. Hanley, with Introduction and Bibliography by Russell Hittinger (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund 1998). Available in multiple formats at the Online Library of Liberty. “Rommen and Natural Law”, an introduction by Russell Hittinger, may be read on this page.
  • “Natural Law and Public Discourse: The Legacies of Joseph Ratzinger”, by F. Russell Hittinger, Loyola Law Review, Vol. 60, No. 2 (2014): pp. 241-271. A paper delivered on 21 November 2013.

Supernatural Grace

See the texts indexed on the page Grace and Salvation.

Supernatural Virtue

Moral and Intellectual Virtues

  • Chosen in Christ to Be Saints. III: Moral Virtues and Bioethics, by Prof. Mons. Angel Rodríguez Luño, translated by Gerald Malsbary from Scelti in Cristo per essere santi. III: Morale speciale, 2a ed. (Roma: EDUSC [Edizioni Università Santa Croce], 2012). 407 pages in pdf. Available in pdf format on this page of Etica e Politica.
  • Four-Square; or, The Cardinal Virtues: Addresses to Young Men, by Joseph Rickaby, S.J. (New York: Joseph F. Wagner, 1908). With Imprimatur. Available in various formats at Internet Archive and Open Library, with a second copy at Internet Archive  and Open Library.
  • The Groundwork of the Christian Virtues, seventh edition, by Archbishop [William Bernard] Ullathorne (London: Burns & Oates; New York, Cincinnati, Chicago: Benziger Brothers). With an 1882 Dedication. Available in various formats at Internet Archive, and Open Library. Audiobook available at LibriVox.

III. Special Ethics for Individuals

Moral Obligations, in General

  • The Commandments Explained, according to the teaching and doctrine of the Catholic Church, by Arthur Devine (London: R. & T. Washbourne; New York: Benziger, 1906). With Imprimatur. Available on Open Library and Internet Archive (Digitizing sponsor: MSN; Book contributor: Kelly Library, University of Toronto).
  • The Way of the Lord Jesus. Volume 2, Living a Christian Life, by Germain Grisez. Available at The Way of the Lord Jesus, with a general overview here.

The 3rd Commandment and Divine Worship

The 4th Commandment and Familial and Social Authority

The 5th Commandment and Capital Punishment

See the works listed on the page Humanity and Human Life.

The 5th Commandment and the Taking of Human Life by Individuals

See the works listed on the page Humanity and Human Life.

  • Abortion: The Myths, the Realities, and the Arguments, by Germain Grisez (New York, Cleveland: Corpus Books, 1970). Available in PDF format at The Way of the Lord Jesus (copyright 2009). [N.B., The book provides a history and summary of the abortion issue. The webpage states: “Because Grisez… published it before Roe v. Wade, much of its content is out of date… However, some parts of this book remain relevant and sound, and careful readers may find them useful.”]
  • Address to the Participants in the International Congress on “Life-Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State: Scientific Advances and Ethical Dilemmas” on Saturday, 20 March 2004, by Pope John Paul II. May be read online at the Holy See, and available in pdf format at Semantic Scholar. A comment by Fr. Basil Cole, O.P. “Why So Long to Make a Decision?”, Homiletic & Pastoral Review (December 2004): pp. 62-66, may be read online on this page at Catholic Culture.
  • “The Arguments for Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide: Ethical Reflections”, by Eduardo Rodriquez, The Linacre Quarterly, Vol. 68, No. 3, Article 7 (August 2001): pp. 251-261. Available in pdf format at The Linacre Quarterly.
  • Communion and Stewardship: Human Persons Created in the Image of God, by the International Theological Commission (2004). Available on the website of the Holy See and on Evangelical Catholic Apologetics.
  • Death and Dignity: New Forms of Euthanasia: A Catholic Perspective on the Human Right to a Dignified Death; With a Selection of Texts from the Church’s Engagement on Euthanasia (Chambésy: The Caritas in Veritate Foundation, 2016). Available in pdf format (on this page) at The Caritas in Veritate Foundation.
  • Declaration on Euthanasia “Jura et Bona”, by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, May 5, 1980. May be read online on this page at Catholic Cultureon this page at EWTN Library, and at the Holy See.
  • Questions of Ethics regarding the Fatally Ill and the Dying, by the Working Group of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, 27 June 1981. Available in pdf format at the Pontifical Academy for Life.
  • Respect for the Dignity of the Dying, by the Pontifical Academy for Life, 9 December 2000. Taken from: L’Osservatore Romano, Weekly Edition in English, 2 May 2001, page 10. May be read online on this page at EWTN Library, and at the Holy See.
  • Responses to Certain Questions of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Concerning Artificial Nutrition and Hydration, by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (August 1, 2007). May be read online at the Holy See. The Congregation’s Commentary on the Responses may be read online at the Holy See. Both the Responses and the Commentary may be read online on this page at Priests for Life.
  • The Right to Life of the Unborn Child: a Controversy between Professor Hector Treub, M.D., Reverend R. van Oppenraay, D.D., S.J., Professor Th. M. Vlaming, M.D.: with an Appendix on a New Method of Operating, Ejecting the Fetus Alive, translated by C. Van der Donckt (New York: J. F. Wagner, 1903). Available on Open Library and Internet Archive (Digitizing sponsor: MSN; Book contributor: Robarts Library of Humanities & Social Sciences, University of Toronto). According to Open Library, it contains the following essays: “Medical abortion and the church”, by Hector Treub; “Reply to Prof. H. Treub,” by R. van Oppenraay; “Prof. H. Treub as penal legislator,” by Th. M. Vlaming; and “The right to life of the unborn child”, H. Treub; and “Narrowness or wholesome consistency,” by Th. M. Vlaming.
  • Vegliare Con Sollecitudine: Address to the Italian Association of Catholic Midwives, by the Venerable Pope Pius XII, 29 October 1951. Variously referred to as “Address [or ‘Allocution’] to Midwives [or ‘Italian Midwives’ or ‘Catholic Midwives’]”, sometimes adding “on the Nature of Their Profession”. (1) An English translation may be read online on this page at the EWTN Librarieson this page of Papal Encyclicals Online, and at IntraText(IntraText Edition CT, copyright Èulogos 2007); and the same translation is available in .doc format through this page at Documenta Catholica Omnia. Brief excerpts are available on this page at Rorate Coeli, which, however, has the beginning paragraph of the address that is not included in this translation. (2) A different English translation, which appears to be longer and more complete, may be read online on this page of Catholic Culture. It is lifted from the pamphlet Marriage and the Moral Law: Two Addresses of Pope Pius XII: Catholic Truth Society No. S0231 (1957), which may be read online on this page at Catholic Truth Society Pamphlets; and on this page at e-Catholic 2000. [N.B., In addition to the Address to Midwives, the pamphlet includes “Nell’ordine Della Natura: Address to the Association Known as the ‘Family Campaign’ and Other Family Associations”26 November 1951.] (3) What is asserted to be a complete translation by Ron Conte (longer than the 1st translation above, of the same length as the 2nd) may be read online at Catholic Planet, linked from the reproach of Christ.

The 6th and 9th Commandments, Marriage, Sexuality, and Human Procreation

States of Life

See the texts indexed on the page Religious Orders and Religious Life.

Ethics for Occupations and Professions

Precepts and Commandments of the Church

  • Salvific Character of Law: An Historical Overview, A Doctoral Study by Dr. Thomas Kuzhinapurath. 213 pages. Available in pdf, djvu, and text formats at Internet Archive. [This is a study of ecclesiastical positive law in general, and of the Code of Canons of the Oriental Churches in particular, and their role in the redemptive mission of Christ.]

IV. Applied Ethics and Casuistry

See also the texts listed on the page Spirituality.

V. Social Ethics and Emergent Ethical Concerns

See the texts indexed on the page Society and Social Teaching.

  • The Framework of the Christian State: An Introduction to Social Science, by Fr. Edward J. Cahill, S.J. (Dublin: M.H. Gill and Son). With 1932 Imprimatur. Available in PDF format on this page and may be downloaded from Scribd. [N.B.1, Please exercise prayerful caution from reading this book. It appears orthodox; but it has some opinions specific to the historical situation when it was written that are irrelevant and dangerous today. See the brief review by Brian K. O’Neel on the Catholic Social Science Review.] [N.B.2, It appears that under Irish and UK law this text is already in the public domain, as Fr. Cahill passed away in 1941. Please check the law of your country as well.]
  • “Liberty and the Virtue of Prudence: A Catholic Perspective” [article], by Todd R. Flanders, Journal of Markets & Morality 2, no. 1 (Center for Economic Personalism, Spring 1999), 102-113. Available in PDF format at the Acton Institute. [N.B., While I disagree with the author’s defense of the capitalist economy, the orthodoxy of his essay cannot be impugned; for the one true Church is not bound to any system but regards all that is good in them (Gaudium et Spes, 42).]
  • We Hold These Truths: Catholic Reflections on the American Proposition, by John Courtney Murray, S.J. (Kansas City, MO: Sheed and Ward, 1960). May be read online at Woodstock Theological Library at Georgetown University. [N.B., We have assumed that this work was lawfully made available online by Georgetown University and that links to it may be lawfully made. Kindly advise us if this is incorrect.]

Social Structures: Relations among Peoples

  • “A Forerunner for International Organizations: The Holy See and the Community of Christendom: With Special Emphasis on the Medieval Papacy”, by Robert John Araujo and John A. Lucal, Journal of Law and Religion, Vol. 20, No. 2 (2004-2005), pp. 305-350. May be accessed at JSTOR (requires registration for an individual account or the use of an institutional account).
  • [Lectures on the Indians, and on the Law of War, of Franciscus de Victoria] Francisci De Victoria De Indis et De Ivre Belli Relectiones, by Francisco de Vitoria, edited by Ernest Nys (reprinted 1964), of the multi-volume series The Classics of International Law, edited by James Brown Scott. Based on notes of lectures delivered 1532. May be read online at Constitution Society and at the webpage of Professor Ken Pennington. [NB: This is one of the leading early texts of international law and human rights theory, and has led some jurists to declare that Vitoria was the true founder of international law. Vitoria was among the first representatives of Spanish Scholasticism, which used Christian Faith and Thomist analysis to analyze emerging problems and thus laid the bases for modern jurisprudence, economics, political theory, and philosophy.]
  • Medieval Internationalism: The Contribution of the Medieval Church to International Law and Peace, by R. F. Wright (London: Williams and Norgate, 1930). May be borrowed at Internet Archive (requires registration for an account).
  • A Peace Agenda for the United Nations: A Report of the Post-War World Committee (Pamphlet No. 32) (Washington, DC: Catholic Association for International Peace; New York: Paulist Press, 1943). [Note: The members of the Post-War World Committee include Msgr. John A. Ryan, Charles G. Fenwick and Carlton Hayes]. Available in pdf format at DigitalGeorgetown.
  • “Thomas Aquinas on Justice as a Global Virtue”, by Claus Dierksmeier. Available in PDF format through the Social Science Research Network [N.B. The text may be of interest in the application of Catholic Christian ethics in the Thomist tradition.]

Politics within Polities

Ethical Aspects of Ecological Issues

  • The Challenge of Climate Change and Environmental Justice: A Distinctive Catholic Contribution”, by Thomas G. Wenski, Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy, Vol. 23, pp. 497-514 (2009). Available in PDF format at the Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy.
  • A Deeper Ecology: A Catholic Vision of the Person in Nature” by Mary Taylor, Communio: International Catholic Review, Volume 38 (Winter 2011). Available in PDF format (on this page) at Second Spring.
  • Ecology and the Common Good: Sustainability and Catholic Social Teaching”, by Russell Butkus and Steven Kolmes, Journal of Catholic Social Thought, Vol. 4, No. 2 (2007): pp. 403-436. Available in pdf format at the University of Portland.
  • Encyclical Letter “Laudato Si’” on Care for Our Common Home, by Pope Francis, 24 May 2015. May be read online at the Holy See.
  • Global Climate Change and Biodiversity / Cambiamenti Climatici Mondiali e Biodiversità: Extra Series 35, edited by Peter H. Raven (Vatican City: Pontifical Academy of Sciences, 2010). 37 pages. Available in pdf format at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
  • The Green Popes: Benedict XVI and John Paul II on the Environment, by Brother Ignatius Schweitzer, O.P. (New Haven, CT: Knights of Columbus Supreme Council, 2010). With Imprimatur. Part of the Veritas Series “Proclaiming the Faith in the Third Millennium”, under General Editor Father Juan-Diego Brunetta, O.P., Director of the Catholic Information Service, Knights of Columbus Supreme Council. Available in pdf format on this page of the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council.
  • “’If You Want To Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation’: Message for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace, 1 January 2010”, by Pope Benedict XVI, 8 December 2009 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2009). May be read online at the Holy See.
  • “Natural Law and the Natural Environment: Pope Benedict XVI’s Vision Beyond Utilitarianism and Deontology”, by Professor Michael Baur, Ph.D. Chapter 3 of Environmental Justice and Climate Change: Assessing Pope Benedict XVI’s Ecological Vision for the Catholic Church in the United States, edited by Tobias Winwright & Jame Schaefer (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2013): pp. 43-57. Available at Academia.edu, uploaded by Dr. Baur.
  • “‘On Development that Respects the Environment’: Address at the General Audience of August 26, 2009”, by Pope Benedict XVI. May be read online on this page of Catholic Culture.

VI. History of Ethics


Works for Sorting

  • Address to the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of the United States of America (California, Nevada and Hawaii) on 2 October 1998, by Pope John Paul II. May be read online at the Holy See.
  • The Beauty and Truth of the Catholic Church: Sermons from the German, adapted and edited, Volume V, by the Rev. Edward Jones, with an Introduction by the Most Rev. John Ireland (St. Louis, Mo.; London: B. Herder, 1916). With Imprimatur. Available at Internet Archive [N.B. This volume includes discourses on the moral law and the last things.]
  • Catholic Social Guild pamphlets, Second Series (Catholic Truth Society, 1914). Morals, Social Doctrine. Available on Internet Archive.
  • Communio: International Catholic Review, vol. 31, no. 1, Consecration and the States of Life (Fall 2004). The following articles may be downloaded in PDF format through this page of Communio: ”The Evangelical Counsels and the Total Gift of Self” by Jacques Servais, ”Consecration and Human Action: The Moral Life as Response” by David S. Crawford, ”Evangelical Counsels in Marriage?” by Jörg Splett, ”Theological Perspectives on Marriage” by Marc Ouellet.
  • Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Available at the Holy See.
  • Concerning Virginity by St. Ambrose of Milan. May be downloaded in PDF format through the Saints’ Books index,
  • Early steps in the fold: instructions for converts, and enquirers, by Francis M. De Zulueta. Available on Internet Archive.
  • Eugenics and Other Evils, by G.K. Chesterton (1922). Available at Manybooks.net and Project Gutenberg.
  • The Four Cardinal Virtues, Prudence Justice Fortitude Temperance, by Josef Pieper (Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1955). [LINK DELETED motu proprio DUE TO COPYRIGHT CONCERNS.]
  • Four-Square; or, The Cardinal Virtues: Addresses to Young Men, by Joseph Rickaby, S.J. (New York: Joseph F. Wagner, 1908). With Imprimatur. Available in various formats at Internet Archive and Open Library, with a second copy at Internet Archive  and Open Library.
  • The Groundwork of the Christian Virtues, seventh edition, by Archbishop [William Bernard] Ullathorne (London: Burns & Oates; New York, Cincinnati, Chicago: Benziger Brothers). With an 1882 Dedication. Available in various formats at Internet Archive, and Open Library. Audiobook available at LibriVox.
  • A Handbook of Moral Theology, Volume I, by Antony Koch, adapted and edited by Arthur Preuss (St. Louis, Mo, London: B. Herder 1918). With Imprimatur. 1st of 5 volumes. Available in various formats at Internet Archive and Open Library.
  • A Handbook of Moral Theology, Volume I, 3rd, revised edition, based on the “Lehrbuch der Moraltheologie” of the late Antony Koch, by Arthur Preuss (St. Louis, Mo, London: B. Herder 1925). With Imprimatur. 1st of 5 volumes. Available in various formats at Internet Archive.
  • A Handbook of Moral Theology, Volume II: Sin and the Means of Grace, 3rd, revised edition, based on the “Lehrbuch der Moraltheologie” of the late Antony Koch, by Arthur Preuss (St. Louis, Mo, London: B. Herder 1928). With Imprimatur. 2nd of 5 volumes. Available in various formats at Internet Archive and
  • A Handbook of Moral Theology, Volume III: Man’s Duties to Himself, 3rd, revised edition, based on the “Lehrbuch der Moraltheologie” of the late Antony Koch, by Arthur Preuss (St. Louis, Mo, London: B. Herder 1926). With Imprimatur. 3rd of 5 volumes. Available in various formats at Internet Archive.
  • Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation, by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, March 22, 1986. May be read online at the Catholic Information Network and the EWTN Library.
  • “Just-War Doctrine in a Nuclear Context”, by William V. O’Brien, Theological Studies, Vol 44, Issue 2, pp. 191-220 (1983). Available in pdf format at Theological Studies through Sage Journals.
  • Leisure: The Basis Of Culture, by Joseph Pieper (1952). [LINK DELETED motu proprio DUE TO COPYRIGHT CONCERNS.]
  • “The Moral Case Against Euthanasia”, by Sidney Callahan, PhD, Health Progress (January – February 1995): pp. 38-40, 53. May be read online and available in pdf format at the Catholic Health Association of the United States.
  • Our Christian Heritage, by James Cardinal Gibbons (Baltimore: John Murphy and Company; London: R.Washbourne, 1889). Available at Internet Archive with a 2nd copy here.
  • Pastime Papers, by Henry Edward Manning (London: Burns & Oates, Ltd., 1892?). Available at Internet Archive and Open Library.
  • Pastoral letter of the Archbishops and Bishops of the United States Assembled in Conference at the Catholic University of America, September, 1919 (Washington, D.C., The National Catholic Welfare Council, 1920). Available at Open Library and  Internet Archive, with a 2nd copy here. [This is a restatement of doctrine and an exhortation on all aspects of the Catholic life in the United States.]
  • “Philosophical Anthropology and Evangelium Vitae”, by Professor William E. May, Acta Philosophica, vol. 12 (2003), pp. 311-322, available in PDF format on this page at Acta Philosophica.
  • Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. A tract that summarizes the theology of the body with representative excerpts of the Pope’s lectures/addresses. Indexed on JP2Info.
  • A Rule of Life: For Daily Christian Living, by Michael Woodgate. May be downloaded in PDF format through the Catholic Truth Society, which states that it provides “Suggestions on how to live a Christian life amidst the business of every day”.
  • The superstition of divorce, by G.K. Chesterton. Available at Internet Archive.
  • Theology of the Body, by Pope John Paul II. Weekly Audiences on the subject of the Redemption of the Body and the Sacramentality of Marriage, September 5, 1979 – November 28, 1984. May be downloaded in PDF format from this webpage of Catholic Primer. May be read on Catechetics Online and on EWTN,
  • “The Way of Suicide, Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, or Evangelium Vitae’s Way of Mercy and Compassion?”, by Dr. Brigid Vout, The Linacre Quarterly, vol. 70, no. 4, article 4 (2003), pp. 301-315. Available in PDF format at the The Linacre Quarterly.

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