Saint Alfonso Maria de’ Liguori, Alfonso also spelled Alphonsus, (born Sept. 27, 1696, Marianella, Kingdom of Naples—died Aug. 1, 1787, Pagani; canonized 1839; feast day August 1), Italian doctor of the church, one of the chief 18th-century moral theologians, and founder of the Redemptorists, a congregation dedicated primarily to parish and foreign missions. In 1871 he was named a doctor of the church by Pope Pius IX. In 1950 he was named patron saint of moralists and confessors by Pope Pius XII.
Moral theology, Vatican II said, should be more thoroughly nourished by Scripture, and show the nobility of the Christian vocation of the faithful and their obligation to bring forth fruit in charity for the life of the world. Alphonsus, declared patron of moral theologians by Pius XII in 1950, would rejoice in that statement.
In his day, Alphonsus fought for the liberation of moral theology from the rigidity of Jansenism. His moral theology, which went through 60 editions in the century following him, concentrated on the practical and concrete problems of pastors and confessors. If a certain legalism and minimalism crept into moral theology, it should not be attributed to this model of moderation and gentleness.Read More »