This course presents an overview of the basic elements of moral theology in the Catholic tradition.  Students who complete this course should be prepared to think about the moral universe from a Catholic perspective, anticipating the kinds of questions that might be asked and kinds of arguments that might be made by those who seek to advance one or another thesis in a way that would be consistent with Catholic thought.  In this way, the student is well positioned to be able to study moral theology further, considering in greater depth the wide range of moral problems treated within the Catholic tradition, and to engage the thought of others from a more critical and better informed position.

Students who complete this course will be equipped to:

  • Explain the idea of “original justice” or “original righteousness,” or “original purity” in relation to a fourfold harmony between man and God, man and himself, man and other men, and man and the created order.
  • Explain the idea of “original sin” as the absence of “original justice,” and thus in relation to a fourfold alienation of man from God, man from himself, man from other men, and man from the created order.
  • Define the ideas of “disordered concupiscence” and the “fomes”, explaining how they relate to the struggle to live morally in the fallen world.
  • Explain the moral constitution of a human act according to object, intention, and circumstance, and Identify “mortal sin” in contradistinction from “venial sin” on this basis.
  • Explain the Ten Commandments as a cohesive moral framework rather than a list of unrelated prohibitions and commands, with an understanding of what is theologically at issue in each commandment.
  • Explain how the Works of Mercy and the Beatitudes relate to the Ten Commandments as a cohesive moral framework.
  • Assess his or her own moral struggles in light of the “capital sins” understood as an enduring mark of fallenness affecting each person in very particular ways in this life.
  • Present a coherent articulation of human sexuality from a Catholic and biblical perspective, addressing holistically Catholic teaching regarding extramarital sex, contraception, divorce and remarriage, and related questions.

Texts for course:

1. Holy Bible

2. Catechism of the Catholic Church

3. Veritatis Splendor, Pope John Paul II

4. Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI

Click HERE to download the Course Workbook.


Course Content

1 The Garden Narrative: Creation and Original justice
2 The Garden Narrative: The Two Trees and the Fall
3 Implications of the Fall: Fourfold Alienation
4 Natural vs. Theological Virtues
5 Absolute Moral Norms: The Idea of malum in se
6 Mortal and Venial Sin
7 Conscience
8 The Ten Commandments: Tablet One
9 The Ten Commandments: Tablet Two
10 Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy
11 The Seven Deadly Sins
12 The Beatitudes
13 Marriage and sexuality, contraception, divorce and remarriage