Three Shifts

When we run back through time to examine the two thousand years of moral tradition in Catholic Christianity, we will find that, being a living tradition, it changed. There was a process of development in which, while the same basic values were preserved, certain theories emerged in particular historical circumstances that are seen as questionable. For example, in attempting to construct an ethical framework for war, which he believed to be a profoundly regrettable but inevitable element of sinful human reality, Augustine sketched reasons justifying war. Aquinas and subsequent authors such as Francisco de Vitoria (d. 1546) developed these reasons into full theories of a 'just war'.215 Peace movements continue to keep alive

215 For a summary and bibliography see War, Christian attitudes to', Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church , 1719—20.

vigorous debate about the morality of any war. But we have other examples of moral teachings and practices from the story of Catholicism that have clearly moved from an earlier acceptance to a later rejection. Let us look at three examples: usury, torture, and slavery. After that we will come to some basic moral notions that have been positively and persistently developed.

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