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Time to address poverty of moral education

IN the debate about abortion, we are all overcome by a rush of outrage.

One can only hope that such debates in future will yield a more refined sense of how to conduct moral discussion.

In this respect, what needs to be addressed urgently is the poverty of moral education in schools.

Students often come to university ill-equipped to engage confidently with the variety of moral views they encounter.

One of the difficulties is the confusion in the minds of many between the concerns of moral theology and those of moral philosophy.

Moral theology purports to be concerned with articulating the Church's teaching on matters of morals; while moral philosophy has no religious axe to grind, working with a more open agenda.

Unfortunately, essential to Catholicism in the minds of many is opposition to abortion in all its forms.

Questions of justice, political and fiscal probity by the machinery of state and the crying shame of urban poverty seem to be peripheral.

Yet it was these issues that lay at the heart of the mission of Christ. Every generation seeks to work out the concrete implications of meeting the demands for consistency between what we know about the world and what we do about it.

There is rarely clear agreement about where to focus our outrage.

PHILIP O'NEILL

Oxford

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