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Modern Moral Problems, Trustworthy Answers to Your Tough Questions


By Msgr. William B. Smith

Modern Moral Problems addresses moral quandaries that can beguile and confuse faithful Catholics. Written in a question-and-answer format, the book covers questions regarding sexuality, medical ethics, business practices, civic responsibilities, and the sacramental life of the Church. The extraordinary assortment of issues-forming a single, organized collection-is a valuable reference for anyone seeking clear and concise answers to tough moral questions.

Written in a conversational tone often spliced with humor, this work by a highly respected moral theologian will be read with fascination for its clarity of argument and fundamental good sense. Originally published as a monthly question-and-answer column in a magazine for priests, these selections by Msgr. William B. Smith retain a striking current topicality. Msgr. Smith often tackled matters of controversy in the Catholic Church, ones which continue to draw conflicting opinions.

Interesting, informative, and eminently practical, this book conveys an overall impression that sound thinking about morality is rooted in a tradition within the Catholic Church, even when the answers to particular moral questions cannot be found in catechisms or Vatican documents. Msgr. Smith offers a clear-headed approach to the quandaries of our time precisely because of his training in traditional moral principles and his fidelity to the Catholic magisterium.

This book should be in the possession of all seminarians and priests, who are bound to confront moral matters that are not so easily decided at first glance. But lay people, too, will find here rich responses to the challenging and sometimes unresolved moral questions they encounter in their own lives.

"The wit and wisdom of Msgr. Smith shines through in these pages. On every topic he treats, he speaks with the mind of the Church. His careful distinctions and clear definitions are simply invaluable. Of special value is his treatment on the difference between material and formal cooperation with evil - it is a topic that comes up again and again in current discussions, and Smith has wonderful clarity."
- Fr Joseph Koterski SJ, Fordham University

"This posthumous publication of Monsignor Smith's replies to difficult moral questions is both welcome and sorely needed. They retain their original clarity, freshness, and relevance. In these pages Msgr. Smith's legendary wit is evident, alongside his encyclopedic knowledge of magisterial sources and (especially) fin-de-siècle Catholic moral theology. This book is a real, and rare, treat."
- Gerard V. Bradley, Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame

"Catholics should hold the memory of Monsignor William Smith in benediction. During the uncertain years that followed the Second Vatican Council, William Smith stayed the course of right judgment in matters of morals. Fortunately, Fr. Donald Haggerty has compiled samples of his late teacher's instruction in moral theology. One may still consult with profit the replies Monsignor Smith composed to questions addressed to him from all over the country. Historians of moral theology will find this book a valuable source for documenting the reception that Blessed Pope John Paul II's encyclical letter, Veritatis splendor, received in the United States." 
- Romanus Cessario, O.P., Saint John's Seminary, Brighton, Massachusetts

Author, Monsignor William B. Smith (1939-2009) was a well-known and highly regarded moral theologian. Ordained for the Archdiocese of New York in 1966, he taught at New York's major seminary for 37 years. A consultant to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and a primary advisor to Cardinals Cooke, O'Connor, and Egan in New York, Msgr. Smith also served on ethics committees in a number of New York Catholic hospitals. He wrote numerous articles for theological journals as well as a monthly column in Homiletic and Pastoral Review.

Paperback, 2012