Ethical Reflections on Pastoral Practice

Course Code: RGT1905HF


John Berkman


Fall 2019
Wednesday 11:00 – 13:00




Regis College

Course Description

This course explores foundational theoretical issues in moral theology applied to pastoral practice. The course includes lectures, discussions and seminars.

Seminars focus upon specific cases and require an additional hour attendance each week excepting week 1 and exam week. During discussions and seminars we will be less concerned with “hot button issues” than with coming to an understanding of how one makes ethical decisions personally and so as to better support and enable others in their ethical discernment and decision-making. We will pay attention to questions from a variety of contexts: medical, parochial, educational and social, for example. Students are encouraged to suggest concrete issues for discussion during the course.

Course Objectives

To provide students with:


  • Background knowledge and critical thinking skills to appreciate more deeply the teaching of the Christian tradition in matters of ethical reflection and conduct.
  • The fundamental concepts and principles employed in contemporary post-Vatican II moral theology so that they are better able to explore the complexities of current ethical issues.
  • An overview of the scope of Roman Catholic moral theology, its contemporary scholarship, and some developments in its recent renewal.
  • An appreciation for the link between faith, spiritual life, morality and reason.
  • Approaches to the process of moral discernment to enable them to support and empower others in ethical decision-making.


The course will help students to:


  • Identify and analyze current ethical debates from the perspective of Christian moral theology;
  • Apply contemporary Roman Catholic moral theology to pastoral concerns;
  • Develop a systematic, faith-based approach to ethical reflection;
  • Develop capacity in the process of moral discernment and apply it to the pastoral setting.

Course Schedule

A detailed course schedule is available for download.

Week 1

Introduction to the Course and the Moral Problem and its Many Dimensions

Week 2

The Way of Knowing – Conscience

Week 3

Interior Life as an Element of Moral Knowing

Week 4

Knowing and Narrative – A Key Dialogue

Week 5

Narratives in Culture – Ways of Shared Meaning

Week 6

The Christian Narrative and the Christian Moral Life

Week 7

The Person of Jesus and the Life of the Spirit

Week 8

The Community of Faith as Lived Tradition

Week 9

Moral Rules and the Life of Faith

Week 10

Growth in the Moral Life

Week 11

The Challenge of a World of Limits

Week 12

The “End” of the Moral Life