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“The human body includes right from the beginning... the capacity of expressing love, that love in which the person becomes a gift – and by means of this gift – fulfills the meaning of his being and existence.”

St. John Paul II

What is the Theology of the Body?

The “Theology of the Body” is St. John Paul II's integrated vision of the human person. The human body has a specific meaning, making visible an invisible reality, and is capable of revealing answers regarding fundamental questions about us and our lives:

  • Is there a real purpose to life and if so, what is it?
  • What does it mean that we were created in the image of God?
  • Why were we created male and female? Does it really matter if we are one sex or another?
  • What does the marital union of a man and woman say to us about God and his plan for our lives?
  • What is the purpose of the married and celibate vocations?
  • What exactly is "Love"?
  • Is it truly possible to be pure of heart?

All of these questions, and many more, are answered in the 129 Wednesday audiences popularly known as the “Theology of the Body,” delivered by St. John Paul II between 1979 and 1984.

His reflections are based on Scripture and contain a vision of the human person truly worthy of man. Emphasizing the theme of love as self-gift, they counteract societal trends which view the body as an object of pleasure or as a machine for manipulation.

Instead, the body shows us the call and gives us the means to love in the image of God. His earlier book Love and Responsibility, and other papal documents, such as Familiaris Consortio and Mulieris Dignitatem also touch on these and related themes.

John Paul II encourages a true reverence for the gift of our sexuality and challenges us to live it in a way worthy of our great dignity as human persons. His theology is not only for young adults or married couples, but for all ages and vocations, since it sums up the true meaning of being a person.


The Theology of the Body In Depth

A six-part series that delves into the riches of John Paul II's Theology of the Body, presented by Christopher West.

  • An Encounter with Christ the Bridegroom - An introduction and overview of Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body
  • Original Man - Who man and woman were created to be in the beginning, as found in the book of Genesis
  • Historical Man - Who we are now after the fall and in the light of the redemption
  • Eschatological Man and Celibacy - What we are destined for in heaven and how it relates to the celibate vocation
  • Marriage and Humanae Vitae - Living the Theology of the Body in the vocation of marriage
  • Questions and Answers - Ways of implementing the Theology of the Body in everyday life

Throughout this series, Christopher continually stresses the beauty and possibility of truly living as we were called to live in the beginning, as persons made in the image and likeness of God.

Listen Now on CatholiCasts

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Learn More...

Books, DVDs, CDs and MP3s

OFWC Media's Theology of the Body Resource Center offers books, CDs, MP3s and DVDs on the Theology of the Body, and more.

Online Talks

CatholiCasts offers hours of talks on the Theology of the Body, marriage, family, and single life, that can be listened to online.

Further Resources...

Articles and Publications

Text of St. John Paul II's Theology of the Body Online
The full text of St. John Paul II's Theology of the Body, hosted by

The Vatican
Contains the texts of many of the Papal documents and St. John Paul II's writings on the Theology of the Body.

Salvo Magazine
Salvo Magazine: Science, Sex and Society. Critiquing art, music, film, television, and literature, interrupting mass media influence, and questioning the sanity of our consumerist lifestyle and debunking the cultural myths that have undercut human dignity, all but destroyed the notions of virtue and morality, and slowly eroded our appetite for transcendence.

Wonderful resource for further study of St. John Paul II's writings, especially his book Love and Responsibility.

Speakers and Organizations

National Catholic Singles Conference
Annual conference for singles, with a strong focus on the Theology of the Body.

Cor Project
Learning, Living & Sharing John Paul II's Theology of the Body with Christopher West.

Teologia do Corpo
A website in Portuguese hosted by the Theology of the Body Brazil Team.

The Alexander House
The Alexander House offers Catholic teaching about marriage to married couples through Catholic counseling and/or marriage discipling to give hope and encouragement to hurting marriages, education and formation in the areas of human virtues for the entire family, and opportunities for reflection and formation for couples wanting to foster better relationships.

CANFP Ask the Expert
Experts answer questions regarding Natural Family Planning. Read questions and answers from others or post your own question here.

Catholic Marriage Preparation, Inc.
CMP's commitment is to help engaged couples build their marriage on the rock of Christ in a pagan society, through the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Catholic Match Institute
Articles on the Theology of the Body applied to dating and relationships.

Men dedicated to a life of intercessory prayer and fasting on behalf of future and present wives and families.

Family Honor
Family Honor was created in 1987 to provide opportunities for parents and children to learn to communicate effectively on important life values, with a special focus on the truth and goodness of God's gift of sexuality and the virtue of chastity.

Freedom Coaching
Setting the blind free from darkness. Personal coaching freeing men and women from addiction to pornography.

International Institute for Culture
The International Institute for Culture (IIC) is a non-profit educational and research center which seeks to promote international understanding through cultural means. Started in 1989 in response to the Holy Father's call for the re-evangelization of culture, IIC is engaged in international conferences, language and cultural programs, lectures series, educational seminars, art exhibits and musical performances which reflect the rich cultural heritage of the Catholic Church and which may serve to bring people to the Person of Jesus Christ.

Into the Deep
Outdoor Theology of the Body Retreats with Jen Messing

Pope Paul VI Institute
Among other great contributions to the Church, Pope Paul VI authored one of the greatest documents of the 20th Century - Humane Vitae. In it he prophesied about the threat to human life and dignity by the gradual compromise of faith and through rationalized thinking spurned on by a culture deviant from God.

Reclaim Sexual Health
This Catholic web site is dedicated to ministering to those who desire to break their addiction to pornography.

Ruah Woods
Ruah Woods provides Theology of the Body training and resources for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Tabor Life Institute
The Tabor Life Institute is dedicated to promoting the sacramental-liturgical worldview of the human person and the entire created order. Their mission is to help transform lives through the Theology of the Body.

Theology of the Body Evangelization Team

Theology of the Body Institute
The mission of Theology of the Body Institute is to educate and train men and women to understand, live and promote the Theology of the Body.

Women of the Third Millennium
Women of the Third Millennium (WTTM) is a lay organization that promotes the dignity, vocation, and mission of women and men through retreats, talks, articles, and books. Katrina Zeno, an international speaker on Theology of the Body, hosts this website.