By Arlene Edmonds
Special to The CS&T

Since its inception in 1979, Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body has gained interest from people all over the world. Local Catholics showed their interest when Theology of the Body Institute, located in Exton, began registration for its “Head and Heart Immersion” course.

The class, being held June 28-July 3, quickly sold out. Many of those in attendance will hear the institute’s faculty member and fellow Christopher West deliver two lectures as part of Janet Smith’s course titled “Love and Responsibility.”

Those who cannot attend these sessions will have an opportunity to register for upcoming fall sessions; some will be held at parishes in the Archdiocese. Registration is ongoing for the next “Head and Heart” course to be held at a Theology of the Body Institute location in Quarryville, Pa., from Sept. 27-Oct. 2. It will particularly address those wounded by the lies of a sexually charged culture.

“This institute was set up to share, teach and promote Theology of the Body by John Paul II,” said Maria Stumpf, director of operations and programs at Theology of the Body Institute. “This is an emerging message that many have a growing interest in. We now have developed a Theology of the Body Two course as well as a new course with Dr. Janet Smith on love and responsibility. This fall we hope many will be able to explore this message.”

Looking ahead further into the fall there will be a “God, Sex and Meaning of Life” session held at SS. Simon and Jude Church in West Chester on Monday, Nov. 16. West will deliver a two-hour talk to introduce the audience to the fundamental concepts of Theology of the Body, as well as basic questions about human existence.

There will also be an introductory session held at Mary, Mother of the Redeemer Church in North Wales on Saturday, Nov. 21. West will guide the participants of this workshop in the essential understanding of Theology of the Body. Emphasis will be on overcoming lust and seeing the redemption of sexuality as one of the keys to happiness.

Finally, another introductory course will again feature West. It will be held at St. Bernard of Clairvaux Church in Bridgewater, N.J., Dec 2-3.

The course textbook is Pope John Paul II’s “Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body” (Pauline Press, 2006). This includes 129 of the Pontiff’s lectures on human sexuality and the sacrament of marriage, including the six cycles that make up the core of the Theology of the Body. These are spanorce, adultery, resurrection, celibacy/virginity, the marital sacrament and contraception/abortion.

The premise of the Theology of the Body is that the union of the sexes through marriage is meant to proclaim and foreshadow the eternal unity of Christ and the Church. Thus, it shows the connection between sex and the Christian mystery. This contrasts with the sexually charged contemporary media images that portray sex as a recreational pursuit outside the sacrament of marriage and without a spiritual context.

The mission of Theology of the Body Institute envisions a world where men and women freely embrace God’s plan for sexuality. It aims to ensure that the teachings of John Paul II are promoted faithfully and effectively. This is done through guest speakers, workshops, seminars and clergy education. For more information visit,

Arlene Edmonds is a freelance writer and St. Raymond of Penafort parishioner. She may be reached at