Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (College of Philosophy and Theology)

Schools and Centres

Philosophy and Theology

First Supervisor

Adam Cooper

Second Supervisor

Angus Brook


In recent times Catholic theologians have begun to speak of a ‘feminine genius’. Yet relatively little attention given to the unique and positive contribution of masculinity and manhood to relationships, the Church and society. This thesis aims to answer the question, “Is there a corresponding ‘masculine genius?” It attempts to synthesise a specifically Catholic understanding of masculinity from the magisterial teaching of the Catholic Church, to determine a basis for development of the Catholic understanding of masculinity and to propose some lines of development for Catholic theology in this area.

Chapter One will establish the need for and purpose of the thesis. Chapter Two will establish the theological approach of this thesis, including the hermeneutic for the interpretation of magisterial teaching. Chapter Three will offer an overview of the magisterial treatment of the theme of masculinity. Chapter Four will focus on the series of Wednesday audiences by Pope John Paul II, later published as The Theology of the Body, which represents such a significant contribution to the theology of human sexuality, in weight and volume, and sufficiently distinct in its method, that it warrants specific attention. Chapter Five will discuss what seems to be lacking in magisterial teaching thus far, and what is incomplete or unclear. Finally, Chapter Six will propose some possible developments of the doctrine, building explicitly on the theology and methodology established in prior chapters.

A definition of masculinity will be proposed, followed by a discussion of the ‘shape’ of masculinity, guided by the boundaries either explicit or implicit in magisterial teaching. This will lead to a more detailed discussion of masculinity in the main texts addressed by John Paul II in his Theology of the Body, namely Genesis and Ephesians. Drawing on these discussions, the thesis will conclude with a discussion of the redemptive aspect of masculinity, the priestly aspect of masculinity, and a positive discussion of masculine desire.

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Religion Commons