Saint Alphonsus – Jansenism – Moral Theology

Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori (September 27, 1696 – August 1, 1787) was an Italian Catholic bishop, spiritual writer, scholastic philosopher and theologian, and founder of the Redemptorists, an influential religious congregation. He was canonized in 1839 by Pope Gregory XVI. Pope Pius IX proclaimed him a Doctor of the Church in 1871

Sant'Alfonso_Liguori

Even before the publication of Augustinus, Saint-Cyran had begun publicly preaching Jansenism. Jansen emphasised a particular reading of Augustine’s idea of efficacious grace which stressed that only a certain portion of humanity were predestined to be saved. Jansen insisted that the love of God was fundamental, and that only contrition, and not simple attrition, could save a person (and that, in turn, only an efficacious grace could tip that person toward God and such a contrition). This debate on the respective roles of contrition and attrition, which had not been settled by the Council of Trent (1545–1563), was one of the motives of the imprisonment in May 1638 of Saint-Cyran, the first leader of Port-Royal, by order of Cardinal Richelieu.[2] Saint-Cyran was not released until after Richelieu’s death in 1642, and he died shortly thereafter, in 1643.
Alphonsus’ greatest contribution to the Church was in the area of moral theological reflection with his Moral Theology. This work was born of Alphonsus’ pastoral experience, his ability to respond to the practical questions posed by the faithful and from his contact with their everyday problems. He opposed sterile legalism and strict rigorism. According to Alphonsus, those were paths closed to the Gospel because “such rigor has never been taught nor practiced by the Church”. His system of moral theology is noted for its prudence, avoiding both laxism and excessive rigor. He is credited with the position of Aequiprobablism, which avoided Jansenist rigorism as well as laxism and simple probablism. As a master of moral theology, he was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1871 by Pope Pius IX, one of only 34.

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