Catholic Morality Revisited – and Thrashed

Twenty-Third Publications did another disservice to the Church by its publication of Gerard S. Sloyan's "Catholic Morality Revisited: Origins and Contemporary Challenges" (1990).
With great acclaim, the blurb on the book declares:

"Contemporary Catholic morality – like contemporary morality in general – is in a state of crisis. Widespread drug and alcohol abuse, unfettered sexual activity, callous greed and its flipside, rampant poverty, have caused cracks in the cornerstones of Catholic moral teaching. Despite the distance that many Catholic educators and parents feel from their faith tradition, they still desire to provide moral direction for their children, but do not know themselves where to turn for guidance.

Gerard Sloyan brings this moral quandary into focus in "Catholic Morality Revisited" by highlighting the core of Catholic morality: the teaching of Moses and the prophets as interpreted by Jesus and his followers.

With wit and insight, he uncovers the Catholic tradition of social morality, as opposed to individual Catholic concern... For young people, deluged by messages of sex and violence, who are groping for a moral foothold, and for those attempting to guide them – parents, teachers and preachers – this book is a supportive, forceful resource... In this important book, he re-establishes a solid, timely foundation for Catholic moral living."

Unfortunately, the truth is that Fr. Sloyan's book only widens further those "Cracks in the cornerstones of Catholic moral teaching". Consequently, Catholic educators and parents will only be reinforced in their feelings of alienation from their "faith tradition". Turning to dissenter Fr. Sloyan for "moral direction" and "guidance" for children is akin to turning to the apostate priest-theologian Charles Davis who abandoned the Catholic faith and priesthood as a result of his rejection of the Church's teaching on contraception. Fr. Sloyan's book actually carries a eulogy by the same Charles Davis:

"With Gerard Sloyan, there is not a sentence that does not bear the imprint of fresh, personal thought."

Such high praise for Fr. Sloyan's views is clearly shared by the editors of "Religion Teachers Journal" who reprinted for their gullible readers part of the book's Chapter 9 for its February 1991 issue.

Those acquainted with Fr. Sloyan, a New Testament Scripture scholar and liturgist and recently retired chairman of the religion department at Temple University, will not be surprised at this latest example of his "fresh, personal thought". It is the same "fresh, personal thought" that scandalized thousands of Catholic parents who saw their children subjected to his 1966 book "How Do I Know I Am Doing Right?" that proved to be so popular with catechists and teachers in schools and CCD classes. That book seduced many with its subtle attacks on the morality and authority of the Church – and especially in its disregard of "Humanae Vitae".

Through the years, Fr. Sloyan has been consistent in expressing his "New Breed" "personalist" hype about "love" and his elevating individual conscience above that of the Magisterium of the Church. It is true, as he notes, that:

"Catholic morality is simply the following of Jesus, neither more nor less".

But the "following of Jesus" is NOT reflected in Fr. Sloyan's continued dissent against Papal teaching on contraception. For Fr. Sloyan, Papal teaching on contraception is regarded as censorious and lacking corporate "consensus" as evidenced in Humanae Vitae's "non-reception" by many in the Church.

It is ironic, that for all of Fr. Sloyan's decrying the "moral floundering" and "lamentable uncertainty" seen in American society with its "confusion in the public mind over precisely what is right and what is wrong" (page 158), that his own books have contributed significantly to the erosion of morality among Catholics. Nor is Church teaching on contraception the only casualty in Fr. Sloyan's version of "social morality'. He, openly, mouths the rhetoric of homosexuals concerning "homophobia", and his "love-ethic" leads him to express sympathy for "the persons of the same sex who love each other in a fully personal and complete way... and the proof of it is the sacrifice and mutual caring that marks it – like any love." (page 103).

It is clearly obvious that his "social morality" is at odds with the Gospel's unequivocal condemnation of homosexual practice.

Fr. Sloyan has been a leading Board member of a group of radical dissenters from Catholic teaching who call themselves the Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church (ARCC). They have placed themselves on record as opposing the Church's teachings on contraception, abortion, divorce, homosexuality, and women's ordination. In 1984 Fr. Sloyan distinguished himself with an address to members of the Catholic Library Association calling upon librarians not to buy "ephemeral papal writings".

There are many other objectionable features in Fr. Sloyan's latest work. It bears no Imprimatur, but remains a dangerous book reflective of the dissenter theology at work in the Church. A fuller examination of "Catholic Morality Revisited.." is available in a Review from:
Catholics United for the Faith, 827 N. 4th St., Steubenville, OH 43952.

About James Likoudis
James Likoudis is an expert in Catholic apologetics. He is the author of several books dealing with Catholic-Eastern Orthodox relations, including his most recent "The Divine Primacy of the Bishop of Rome and Modern Eastern Orthodoxy: Letters to a Greek Orthodox on the Unity of the Church." He has written many articles published by various religious papers and magazines.
He can be reached at:, or visit  Mr. James Likoudis' Homepage

Dissent from the Magisterium.... is not compatible with being a "good Catholic".
- Pope John Paul II -