Sources & Extracts
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Josef Fuchs is a Jesuit priest who has written on natural law
not only for Roman Catholics but in order to foster a broader
understanding between Catholic and Protestant moralists. In the
following excerpt he describes in general terms a number of works
in the natural law tradition.
A first series of Church texts on the essence of natural law refers to its ontological foundations. In these the being, the very essence or nature of man as composed of body and spirit appears as a norm of moral behavior and of law. There is an objective order defined by natural law and this in the final issue is based upon 'being.' Numerous paragraphs in the texts show this clearly. Marriage is 'by its nature' monogamous. The attributes of the institution are 'something that results from the nature of man.' The right to hold property is given 'to us by nature itself.' The moral limits of medical activity result from 'the teleology given by nature and existence in all things and from the order of values which results from the nature of all things.' The natural law is determined by the destination and nature of man; it exists because of 'laws written into the nature of beings' which are ontologically rooted in human nature. . . .
Reason reads the natural law in the nature of all things and particularly in the nature of man. To say that reason is able to read the law written in the heart of man means simply that reason is able to grasp the law of nature from the ontological reality of man and of all things.