Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Moral Theology: Case #3

Below, please find the third case study I wrote and used on my final exam for our junior-year morality course.

Jim, a husband and father of three children under the age of six, works hard as an attorney. He is a devoted father to his children, one of whom was born with a severe medical condition that requires expensive round-the-clock care. Recently, he was given a case no one at his firm thought it possible to win. Through hard word and creativity, however, James managed to secure a win for his client and bring an enormous amount of money and prestige to the firm. This evening, two of the Managing Partners took him out to dinner and informed him that he was being made a Partner in the firm. His salary increase is enormous and he is excited that he’ll be able to provide the type of life for his family that he never had as a child.

After a night of celebrating, James thinks twice before getting behind the wheel of his Jeep. He hesitates, but decides to drive home because he wants to share his good news with his wife. It is late on a Tuesday and James is doing his best to keep control of his vehicle. His mind is racing with thoughts about what he’ll do with the money: his new car, the schools his kids will attend, the vacations they’ll take, and he is excited that he’ll be able to afford live-in care for his disabled daughter. 

He is lost in his dreams when his car hits something. From out of the darkness, a drugged-up homeless man has staggered into the road and James has hit him. He freezes at the wheel, staring at the unmoving body 20 feet in front of his car. He gets out, approaches, and to his horror discovers that the man is dead.

James looks around to see if anyone has seen anything. As luck would have it, no lights are on and there are no cameras. The street is totally empty. He looks at the hood of his car – no dent – and he makes a decision: get the hell out of there. He gets into his car and drives home. The next morning, the homeless man’s corpse is found in the road. He carries no ID and when his body goes unclaimed, he is given a simple burial in the city graveyard.

You are Jim’s parish priest. He comes to you for confession and tells you the whole story. You know what a good and devoted father he is and how much good he does for the community. For six months, he has spent many sleepless nights wondering what he should do. He is asking you for advice. What is your counsel to him? 

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