Encyclopedia of Religion
and Society

William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor

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The study of cases, especially those of conscience, or doubtful situations where it is not easy to distinguish the good from the bad, and where it is insufficiently clear to which rules or principles one should refer. For several centuries in the Roman Catholic Church, priests have been trained to deal with hypothetical cases so as to be able later on to resolve them in reality, especially in administering the sacrament of reconciliation (or "confession") and generally in spiritual guidance. The word jesuitical is sometimes used in a pejorative sense for this practice. Currently, casuistry is widely used in the field of birth control and in bioethics—for example, in relation to artificial insemination, donation of organs, and euthanasia.

Roberto Cipriani

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