May be defined as human conduct in so far as it is freely subordinated to the ideal of what is right and fitting.
This ideal governing our free actions is common to the race, but the uniformity regards principles rather than their application.
While there are exceptions, in general, it may be said that the common voice of the race proclaims it to be right for man to reverence his parents; to care and provide for his children; to be master of his own appetites; to be honest and just in his dealings, even to his own damage; to show benevolence to his fellows in time of distress; to bear pain and misfortune with fortitude.
The advance in morality lies in the better application of the accepted principles, in the widening of their binding scope, and in the removal of inconsistent corruptions.
The relation of morality to religion has always been a subject of keen discussion.
The positivist and idealist schools teach that morality is independent of religion, but the Church has always taught that apart from religion, the observance of the moral law is impossible because morality has a necessary relation to man's last end, which is God, and secondly, the obligatory character of morality is based upon the Divine Will.
Moreover, on account of original sin, man's vision of the moral law has become obscured, and the control of his passions has been lost, and hence without Divine aid he cannot long observe the moral law.
It has been shown repeatedly in the histories of individuals and of nations that morality divorced from religion has no binding force.
The chief conditions necessary for the growth and development of morality in the individual and the community are a right education of the young in the home and the school, where religion and virtue are impressed upon the child, a healthy public opinion, and sound legislation.
New Catholic Dictionary