Canadian Bishops’ Twelfth-Grade Moral Textbook “Fails Dismally” to Present Moral Teaching

By Gudrun Schultz and Steve Jalsevac

TORONTO, Ontario, February 15, 2006 ( – A new Catholic textbook on the moral life, written for grade 12 students, fails dismally to present the moral teaching of the Church, according to reviewer Dr. John Shea.

Dr. Shea, retired doctor and medical consultant for the pro-life group Campaign Life Coalition, reviewed the book In Search of the Good: A Catholic Understanding of Moral Living, written and produced by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), for the February 2006 issue of Catholic Insight.

“I cannot and would not recommend this book for Grade Twelve students,” Dr. Shea writes. “A significant flaw in this work is its failure adequately to present the moral teaching of the Church (his emphasis) to its intended readers…In particular it is deficient in its instruction about chastity and sexual morality, areas which are so important in this hedonistic age.”

Dr. Shea raises a series of questions about the authors’ use of vague and confusing language in reference to the Church’s moral authority, such as “a church in dialogue” and the Church as a “community of moral deliberation.” He suggests that for a Catholic text, authored by the CCCB, the book presents an alarmingly relativistic approach to moral understanding and the exercise of conscience.

“Richard Gula is quoted as saying: ‘Conscience is the radical experience of ourselves as moral agents… as long as we do not direct our own activity, we are not free, morally mature persons.’ How can this statement be reconciled with a Catholic’s moral obligation to conform his or her conscience to the teaching of the Church?”

The text fails to present Catholic beliefs surrounding the sanctity of marriage as doctrinal teachings of the Church, Dr. Shea points out. The universal authority of the Church on such matters is never mentioned—instead, the implication is subtly presented that the Church’s teaching is relative only to those who are members.

“We are told that for Catholics, the term ‘marriage’ describes a permanent and exclusive union between man and woman; that Catholics believe that a valid and sacramental marriage is permanent and for life; and that in the Church’s view, Christian couples remain open to life” (his emphasis.)

Dr. Shea is disturbed as well by the text’s early attention to modern secular philosophers, unqualified by any explanation of the errors in secular philosophies that have led to the dominance of moral relativism in today’s society.

“Guidelines for the good life are to be found in the Judeo-Christian tradition, the moral teaching of the Magisterium, and natural law that is man’s understanding of the divine law,” Dr. Shea writes. “These guidelines could have been more fully spelled out and should have been placed at the beginning of the text.”

The Canadian Conference of Bishops organization is known for publishing many questionable texts.ÂThey are often characterized byÂliberal or incomplete theology, a strongÂemphasis onÂleft leaning “social justice” themes and rewriting of scriptural quotes, hymns, liturgical texts and other worship and study documents to accommodate feminist language. The Lectionary used in parishes across the country since 1993 has never been approved byÂRome because of its use ofÂanÂunapproved scriptural text. The CCCB hasÂso far still refused to replace it despite constant urging by Rome to do so.

The Ottawa based Canadian bishops’ organization is dependent upon the sale of its publications for a large portion of its income.

Read the complete review here:

FREE pro-life and pro-family news.

Stay up-to-date on the issues you care about the most. Sign up today!

Select Your Edition:

You can make a difference!

Can you donate today?

Share this article