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Theology of the Body

In the early years of his pontificate, Saint John Paul II devoted nearly all of his Wednesday general audiences to expounding a scriptural vision of human sexuality known as the Theology of the Body. Starting with a penetrating analysis of the creation accounts in the book of Genesis, Saint John Paul II illuminated the meaning of human love in the divine plan.

The Theology of the Body is Saint John Paul II’s timely response to the sexual confusion troubling our culture and our Church. Papal biographer George Weigel calls the Theology of the Body “one of the boldest reconfigurations of Catholic theology in centuries…a kind of theological time bomb set to go off with dramatic consequences, sometime in the third millennium of the church.”

A thorough understanding of Theology of the Body is particularly important in seminary formation, as emphasized in the Program for Priestly Formation, 5th edition.

“Human formation comes together in a particular way in the domain of human sexuality, and this is especially true for those who are preparing for a life of celibacy. The various dimensions of being a human person—the physical, the psychological, and the spiritual—converge in affective maturity, which includes human sexuality. Education is necessary for understanding sexuality and living chastely. Those preparing to live out a celibate commitment face particular challenges, especially in today’s cultural context of permissiveness.” (no. 77)

“Seminary formation in sexuality and celibacy must communicate to priesthood candidates and enable them to appropriate the meaning of celibate chastity, especially the theological rationale that makes clear how it pertains to the logic of the ordained priesthood.” (no. 79)