What the Halifax is Theology of the Body?


As a 'traditionalist' I have occasionally been confronted and confused by the 'Theology of the Body' or ToB.

Firstly, the ToB body of knowledge (ToBBok) is based upon a series of Angelus talks given by Pope St. John Paul II.

Secondly, is it a binding teaching of the Church of Christ ... nope see Ite Ad Thomam link below.

Thirdly, what the heck is it?
See remnant references and Wiki.  Whatever StJP2 intended, the talks are simply used to continue to invert the priorities of marriage by exchanging procreation with conjugal love.

This obviously is my opinion and if anyone can provide a succinct explanation - please provide a comment.

Explanation of 'consultants': Whenever something is ambiguous or difficult to understand (more often the former than the latter) it engenders a cottage industry of people who make a living explaining the topic.

Remnant: 2008 Theology of the Body
Remnant: 2009 Christopher West Show
Ite Ad Thomam: ToB


  1. Randy Engel's "John Paul II and the 'Theology of the Body' - A Study in Modernism" (originally published in CFN) is another. She agrees with Dörmann, who said "John Paul II did not hold to the truth of the Church’s doctrine on Original Sin."

    Fr. Luigi Villa says in "John Paul II Beatified?" that "the masculinity and femininity of the naked body, are for him [John Paul II] the greatest revelations of the human being for themselves and for others."

    John Paul II uses the very confusing phrase "revelation of the body", which encapsulates ToB's whole emphasis on spiritualizing the body ("conjugal spirituality" as he calls it in a later audience). Revelation comes from God, not the human body, although in some cases through the human body.

    • He says Genesis 2:25 ("And they were both naked; to wit Adam & his wife: and were not ashamed.") is the "original revelation of the body" (source).

    • And «the "revelation of the body," helps us somehow to discover the extraordinary side of what is ordinary.» (source)

    Conclusion: Being naked and not ashamed "helps us somehow to discover the extraordinary side of what is ordinary."! This is nudism!

    ToB is naturalistic. Man is mentioned far more frequently than God, too.

  2. Can one commit adultery with one's own wife‽

    JPII says:
    «Adultery in the heart is committed not only because man looks in this way at a woman who is not his wife, but precisely because he looks at a woman in this way. Even if he looked in this way at the woman who is his wife, he could likewise commit adultery in his heart.»

  3. In my experience, as with most post-conciliar teachings, there is a conflation of different ideas - an admixture of the Catholic Doctrine and Novelty.

    In this case, I believe that St. Thomas had something similar to say.

    Consequently the right answer to this question is that if pleasure be sought in such a way as to exclude the honesty of marriage, so that, to wit, it is not as a wife but as a woman that a man treats his wife, and that he is ready to use her in the same way if she were not his wife, it is a mortal sin; wherefore such a man is said to be too ardent a lover of his wife, because his ardor carries him away from the goods of marriage. If, however, he seek pleasure within the bounds of marriage, so that it would not be sought in another than his wife, it is a venial sin.

    Reply to Objection 1. A man seeks wanton pleasure in his wife when he sees no more in her that he would in a wanton.


    So while somewhat convoluted, the intention (as far as I read the quotation you provided) is not really a Novelty.


    1. Yes, that's the passage of St. Thomas I was thinking of, but he uses clear terminology; there is certainly no "admixture of the Catholic Doctrine and Novelty."

      JPII also throws away terms, saying, e.g., that the "remedium concupiscientiæ" is what "one used to say in traditional theological language" (source).

      The biggest problem with ToB, besides its exultation of the flesh, is its personalism/phenomenology, which contradicts Thomism. In his last book, Memory & Identity, he admits ToB's personalism/phenomenology has limitations:

      If we wish to speak rationally about good and evil, we have to return to St. Thomas Aquinas, that is, to the philosophy of being. With the phenomenological method, for example, we can study experiences of morality, religion, or simply what it is to be human, and draw from them a significant enrichment of our knowledge. Yet we must not forget that all these analyses implicitly presuppose the reality of the Absolute Being and also the reality of being human, that is, being a creature. If we do not set out from such 'realist' presuppositions, we end up in a vacuum.

  4. Good point.

    Either way, the fault-lines are becoming clearer each day:

    SSPX et al: Lines are doctrinally based
    Cardinal Burke et al: Lines are more clearer on morality.

    Going to be an interesting year. I hope that Pope Francis saves his soul and we have another conclave this year! :-)



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