SYLLABUS: ThM 544, Fall 2015
Theology of Marriage and Human Sexuality

 The Song of Songs
MS illum.

Syllabus: MS-Word DOC




This course introduces the Christian theology of sexuality, with emphasis on the moral and pastoral implications of Christian marriage and celibacy. Human sexuality will be studied from the perspective of the theology of redemption of the whole person in Jesus Christ, including especially the redemption of the body. In recent years two interrelated themes have figured prominently in authoritative Catholic teaching documents: the “theology of the body” and the “language of the body”. The “theology of the body” includes the history and development of Catholic doctrine concerning the sacramentality and holiness of marriage, as well as the moral and spiritual significance of Christian celibacy. Learning the “language of the body” entails recognition of the ontological meaning of human acts and careful assessment of choices that either facilitate or impede the acquisition of virtue.






1.     Students will be able to interpret, explain, and apply the teachings of the Catholic Church concerning sexual ethics in pastoral counseling and in the sacrament of reconciliation, with careful attention to the multicultural diversity of Catholic Christians.

2.     Students will understand the implications of the different moral theories employed in secular society and in official Catholic teaching documents.

3.     Students will develop familiarity with and be able to explain and apply to moral problems the Catholic theories of natural law and the development of virtue.

4.     Students will understand and be able to articulate the mutually-illuminating interrelationship between consecrated celibacy and Christian marriage.

5.     Students will appreciate the multicultural factors and diversity of experiences that influence the formation of conscience, the understanding of sinfulness, and models of holiness.





1.  This course will combine lecture and class discussion based on assigned readings. Active participation in class discussions is essential, and will figure into the final evaluation.

2. A research project will be undertaken concerning the teaching of Natural Family Planning in the parish setting.  The seminary student body represents a broad spectrum of multicultural diversity, with a concomitantly wide range of preference for either verbal or written presentations. In recognition of this, students will be offered the opportunity of choosing either:

(1) a written research paper of between seven and twelve pages, including appropriate references (due on or before November 20st, 2015); or

(2) an oral presentation to the whole class on December 8, using Powerpoint or student-designed webpages, on a researched subject, fifteen to twenty minutes in length, followed by questions and answers.

If the option for an oral presentation is chosen, a CD of the Powerpoint slides or webpages of the presentation must be submitted to the professor following the presentation.  The time available for these presentations on Tuesday, December 8  limits the number of students who may choose this option to a maximum of four.

3. The midterm and final examinations will consist of take-home case-studies. Students will have one week to return their answers, which should be typed and contain appropriate references.

4. Late work will be accepted for a grade only if the professor grants an extension of the deadline: requests for extensions must be submitted in writing, with a clear explanation of the reason for the request.  Out of fairness to those who submit their work on time, late work for which an extension has been granted will normally be graded down by one-half letter grade for each day it is late.

5. In research papers and on exams students must clearly distinguish between their own words and sources they are citing.  Failure to credit sources that are cited constitutes plagiarism and may result in a grade of “F”.

6.  The final course grade will be computed as follows:

  Class participation

10 %

  Midterm Examination

30 %

  Research paper or oral presentation

30 %

  Final Examination

30 %





  all required readings will be available for download from the course website

1. The Catechism of the Catholic Church

2. Human Sexuality, an All-Embracing gift, by Gerald Coleman, (Alba House), ISBN: 081890643X

3. Sex, Priestly Ministry, and the Church, by Len Sperry (Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 2003), ISBN: 0814629679.

4. Male and Female He Created Them, A Theology of the Body, by Pope St. John Paul II, tr. M. Waldstein (Pauline Books, 2006) ISBN: 081987421





 all required readings will be available for download from the course website

Pope Pius XI, Casti Conubii; Pope Pius XII, Sacra Virginitas; Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, Sacerdotalis Caelibatus; Vatican Council II, Gaudium et Spes; The Catechism of the Catholic Church, selections.

Pope John Paul II: Catechesis on Genesis and Exodus; Catechesis on St. Paul; Evagelium Vitae; Familiaris Consortio; Mulieris Dignitatem; God the Author of Marriage; Human Love and Respect for Life; Responsible Parenthood; Veritatis Splendor; Vita Consecrata; Fruitful and Responsible Love.

Pope Benedict XVI: Deus Caritas est (God is Love); On Family and Christian Community; Caritas in Veritate (on Integral Human Development in Charity and Truth)

SCDF: The Reception of Holy Communion by the Divorced and Remarried Members of the Faithful; On The Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons; Declaration on certain questions concerning sexual ethics (Persona Humana).






Guidelines to Confessors on Homosexuality (USCC)

Pastoral Letter on Homosexuality (Archbishop John R. Quinn)

Sexuality‑ God’s Gift (Bishop Francis J. Mugavero)

Human Sexuality and the Ordained Priesthood (USCC)

The Way of the Lord Jesus, by Germain Grisez: vol. I Christian Moral Principles; vol. 2, Living a Christian Life; vol. 3, Difficult Moral Questions (Franciscan Press, 1997).






Ashley, Benedict, Theologies of the Body: Humanist and Christian (The Pope John Center)

Brown, Peter, The Body and Society, Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity, (Columbia Univ. Press, 1980)

Bayer, Edward, and McCarthy, Donald, Handbook on Critical Sexual Issues

Cahill, Lisa, Between the Sexes, Foundations for a Christian Ethics of Sex

The council of the Matrimonied: A New Voice in the Church. Fertility Acceptance and Natural Family Planning, A Catholic Viewpoint on Fertility Appreciation, and the Concept of Wellness in Health Care, Genital Encounter and Contraception, A Faith Perspective (Family Action Publications)

Durkin, Mary, Feast of Love, Pope John Paul II on Human Intimacy

Genovisi,Vincent, In Pursuit of Love ISBN: 0814655904. (Michael Glazier).

Katchadourian, Herant, Human Sexuality, A Brief Edition

Kraft, William F., Whole & Holy Sexuality

Lawler, Boyle, and May, Catholic Sexual Ethics

May, William,  Catholic Bioethics and the Gift of Human Life, ISBN 0-87973-683-6 (Our Sunday Visitor, 2000).

Monks of Solesmes, The Human Body, Papal Teachings (St. Paul Editions, 1960).

Pope John Center, Human Sexuality and Personhood

Pope John Center, Moral Theology Today: Certitudes and Doubts

Quinn, Archbishop John R., Ministry and Homosexuality in the Archdiocese of San Francisco (Archdiocesan Priests’ Senate).

Vandenberg, Thomas L., A Companion for the Pastoral: A sign of our Time.

Von Hildebrand, Alice, Dietrich von Hildebrand, Catholic Philosopher, and Christopher West, Modern Enthusiast: Two Very Different Approaches to Love, Marriage and Sex (available online)

Von Hildebrand, Dietrich, In Defense of Purity (selections available online in Course Documents)

West, Christopher. Theology of the Body Explained, (Pauline Books and Media). ISBN: 0-8198-7410-8






Classes will meet on Tuesdays (9:00-10:50 am), and Thursdays (9:00-9:50 am).

1) AN OVERVIEW OF CATHOLIC TEACHING on Human Sexuality, Chastity, Marriage, and Celibacy [4 hrs.]


Catechism of the Catholic Church on marriage and sexual morality (course website)

CREATION 355-384)

FALL 385-421)

ETERNAL LIFE 1020-1060)

Sacrament of Matrimony (§ 1601-1666)

Ethics of Life (§ 2258-2330)

Sexuality and Chastity (§ 2331-2350)

Offenses Against Chastity (§ 2351-2356)

Homosexuality and Chastity (§ 2357-2359)

Marital Sexuality (§ 2360-2379)

Offenses Against Marriage (§ 2380-2400)

Pope Benedict XVI: Deus Caritas est. (especially § 4-11) Note how Pope Benedict uses the terms love, eros, embodiment.

2) THE PRESENT CRISIS IN SEXUAL MORALITY: a Spiritual and Theological Appraisal

A) The Sexual Abuse Crisis [2 hrs.]

READINGS: The John Jay Study;  Jenkens, Pedophiles and Priests, selections, (course website); Sperry, Sex. Priestly Ministry, and the Church, ch. 1, “Sex and Sexuality – Everything You Need to Know” (course website)

B) Ministry, Friendship, and the Universal Need for Appropriate Boundaries[2 hrs.]

READINGS: Healthy Boundaries: Working Guidelines and Personal Strategies Fr. Quinn Conners, O.Carm., Ph.D.  Managing Ministerial Risks, Fr. Michael N. Kane.

C) Models of Christian Modesty and Intimacy [2 hrs.]

READINGS: Coleman, Introduction, pp. xiii-xxi. C.S. Lewis: 1, The Four Loves, ch. 2, “Eros”, The Screwtape Letters, selected letters.  Hauerwas, “Sex in Public” (course website). The Last Sexual Perversion – A Defense of Celibacy, Michael J. McClymond.



READINGS: Pope John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor (course website); “Dignitatis Humanae and the Catholic Human Rights ‘Revolution’”, Coleman, ch. 1 pp. 1-42.


4) THE HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT OF CATHOLIC TEACHING on Human Sexuality, Chastity, Marriage, and Celibacy

A) The Early and Medieval Church.  Marriage as Sacrament  [1 hr.]

READINGS: Peter Brown, The Body and Society, selections, (course website). Coleman, ch. 1 pp. 42-54.

B) The Modern Church.  Sexuality and Sacramentality  [1 hr.]

READINGS: Casti Connubii, Gaudium et Spes, Humanae Vitae, Familiaris Consortio (course website).


Readings: Selections from Pope John Paul II, Catechesis on Genesis and Catechesis on the Sermon on the Mount (course website). Coleman, ch. 2.


6HUMAN SEXUALITY FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES: Developmental Sexuality; Sexual Maturity; and Impairment of the Will.

Psychopathology, Psychopathy and assessing the risk of violence.  Addiction and 12-Step programs.[3 hrs.]

READINGS:   DSM IV-R on Relevant Psychopathology (course website)



A) Theology of Marriage: Sacramental and Canonical Aspects. [1 hr.]

READINGS:  Pope John Paul II: God the Author of Marriage.  The Code of Canon Law, selections (course website)

B)  Caring for troubled marriages: Divorce and remarriage: special pastoral and moral concerns. [2 hrs.]

READINGS: Coleman, ch. 4. SCDF: The Reception of Holy Communion by the Divorced and Remarried Members of the Faithful; Vademecum for Confessors.



A) The Physiology of Fertility [2 hrs.]

B)  Catholic Moral Teaching and the Practice of Contraception [1 hr.]

READINGS: Pope Paul VI - Humanae Vitae; Pope John Paul II -  Evagelium Vitae; Familiaris Consortio (selected texts); Coleman, ch. 4.

C)  Natural Family Planning, Methods and Resources [2 hrs.]

Presentation by Debi Hoppe, NFP (sympto-thermal) Instructor.



Presentation by Msgr. Craig Cox, Rector of St. John's Seminary, formerly Vicar for Clergy, Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

READINGS: SCDF: Declaration on certain questions concerning sexual ethics (Persona Humana). Pope John Paul II, The Theology of Marriage and Celibacy, selections, (course website). Coleman, ch. 6-7. Sperry, Sex. Priestly Ministry, and the Church, ch. 3, “Sexuality, Intimacy, and Celibacy” (course website)



READINGS: Coleman, ch. 5 & 9; SCDF: On The Pastoral Care of the Homosexual Person.



A) Artificial Insemination, In vitro fertilization; Embryo Adoption [1 hr.]

READINGS: Pope John Paul II, Evagelium Vitae; SCDF, Instruction on Respect for Human Life (Donum Vitae), Coleman, ch. 8.

B) HIV/AIDS; Abortion [2 hr.]

C) Finding Christ at the end of life [2 hr.]

READINGS: Declaration on Euthanasia, (Jura et Bona)


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