CATHOLIC ETHICS AS SEEN FROM PADUA
During the summer of 2006, over four hundred Catholic ethicists from around the world gathered for four days in Padua, Italy. About sixty of the conference papers have become available in two edited collections, Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church: The Plenary Papers from the First Cross-cultural Conference on Catholic Theological Ethics, and Applied Ethics in a World Church: The Padua Conference. As the conference was marked by a distinctive and creative tension—between the diversity which characterized the nationalities and cultural identities of the participants, on the one hand, and the commonness of their religious heritage, on the other—these essays can tell us much about contemporary Catholic ethics in its response to global pluralism. The following develops four reflections. First, the conference papers pursue a style of scholarship that is at once critically creative and ecclesially rooted. Second, the conference raises new concerns about the importance that Christian formation must have in a pluralist world. Third, the participants affirm and defend the ultimate universality of moral goods while also arguing that these goods are expressed and embodied in unavoidably particular ways. Finally, the most important contribution that Catholic ethics can make to public conversations about issues of common concern is through its articulation and defense of key human values.