Experience teaches us that “knots” are useful in life. Good knots are those that can be untied, so as not to become a problem. These pages will address some knots that we must untie if we want moral theology to work with the Church so that it will bear fruit in charity for the life of the world and renew itself, as Pope Francis asks, by following the paths set out by the Second Vatican Council. These are knots that in part we moral theologians have tied within the Church context, particularly those of us in positions of responsibility and authority. They have taken the form of burdensome legacies or developments based on misguided perspectives. They are considered by some to be definitive while others call for them to be changed. We are called to discuss calmly the arguments on both sides, invoking the assistance of the Holy Spirit in the Church that Christ builds on Peter, without becoming polarized, or overtaken by ideologies that make use of the doctrine of the faith to push through particular opinions without caring for the people of God.
Other knots arise from very distorted situations in the technology-driven postmodern context that tends to downplay the individual, often subverting the relationship between means and ends. Our “liquid” times have engendered abundant distortions regarding areas of sexual morality and bioethics, as well as other problems. One major knot, which in particular tends to become more and more difficult to unravel, is that of the problem revealed by the “promises” coming from transhumanism, the impressive advances in neuroscience with respect to all that can be achieved by the mind, as well as the modifications of human identity and the radical ambiguity about being human, as well as the difficulty in making the human being present through the body in the body itself. We witness the weakening of the bonds associated with the personal dimension (body-spirit), the relational-affective dimension (desire-love) and the public-institutional dimension (justice-solidarity-peace). It may be thought of as “a new nihilism” that “universalizes everything, nullifying and debasing individuality or, on the contrary, affirming them with such vehemence as to cause their destruction.” This goes beyond classical relativism because it obscures the very matter on which it reflects, downplaying experience and awareness of reality, both natural and social.