SPES, the St Patrick's Evangelisation School, have invited me back to give them some more classes on Moral Theology. This time we will be looking at the important encyclical Evangelium Vitae. As Cardinal Ratzinger the present Pope delivered a fascinating lecture inspired by the encyclical examining theories of social contract and tracing them back to the influences of the Enlightenment. I had hoped that I'd have time to prepare something based on that lecture. It's very profound but would need a lot of unpacking and there simply hasn't been time to do it justice recently. Instead I think we'll stick to examining some of the issues in moral theology that led to the encyclical before looking in detail at its contents.
I have a special, if somewhat odd interest in Evangelium Vitae. When I was a student in Rome I had a lot of contact with the Council for the Family and we all knew that an encyclical on moral theology was in preparation. In my last few months I was asked if I would be willing to help prepare the English translation. Apparently the Vatican was keen that it be in British rather than American English. I had to be willing to take an oath of secrecy. Of course I was up for it but the document took rather longer to draft than was expected and so my services were never required - which is just as well since after seven years in Rome I think I'd pretty well lost the ability to distinguish between the two versions of English in anything more subtle than spelling!