A Reflection Paper commissioned by the Australian Catholic
Bishops Conference Committee for Doctrine and Morals
Prepared by Gerald Gleeson
Being Human is a statement of "the understanding
of our humanity that underpins Catholic ethical teachings".
It is a clear and thorough paper on what we are, how we can orient
ourselves towards the love of God and neighbour, and do good in
Nobody can tell us exactly how to love, because love is personal.
Love's ubiquitous characteristic is that the lover is aware of a
personal God and the value of the person, and responds to situations
in a good and personal way. Much of Being Human can be
said to relate to the virtue of justice, towards God and neighbour.
The connection is that justice often demands love, and he who loves
will, ipso facto, be just towards the other person.
Being Human delivers on its claim to have a "positive
emphasis". However the reader should note the author's statement
in this context that "to affirm something is to exclude its
opposite". There are five main chapters conforming to five
"Each and every human being is a unique person
created in the image of God."
"Human persons are at once both spiritual
and material beings: we belong to the
physical universe and yet we are destined for relationship with
God, now and for all eternity. We are finite beings with the capacity
for God who is infinite."
"We are moral beings commanded
to love God and neighbour, and thereby to acknowledge and pursue
the truth about what is good."
"We are social beings called
to establish and maintain just and faithful relationships with
all other members of the human family."
"We are sexual beings whose
fulfilment lies in the gift of self to another. Genital sexuality
finds its true expression in the commitment of marriage and the
procreation of new human life."
Being Human is written in a philosophical style but it
is developed from within the tradition of Catholic belief.
It is only 62 pages in length, yet for most people it will require
concentrated reading, and it will have to be read several times
in order to completely absorb the rich statement that it constitutes.
Many people will recognise that this paper is much needed
in our times. A materialistic disposition has developed in conjunction
with the rapid advances in science, and this has led to a "crisis
of truth". This paper is a Catholic response written since
the turn of the century and at pains to give due recognition to
the place of science and the existence of different beliefs.
If you know a person who is thoughtful and who is honestly seeking
then give that person a copy of Being Human. It would be
the best $5 present that you could buy.
John L Smith
Vice President - Communications
Serra Club of Canberra