Teaching moral theology in seminaries and its implication for moral leadership

Ben Paul Plavilacharuvil, Fordham University


The teaching of moral theology in Catholic seminaries is an integral part of the moral leadership formation of Catholic priests. This study is an attempt to understand the implications for moral leadership training in the teaching of moral theology in 6 selected seminaries in the eastern United States. This study follows a qualitative format using interviews, participant observation, and document analysis. Six Catholic major seminaries in the eastern United States were selected and the moral theology professors in those seminaries were interviewed in undertaking the study. What changes or developments, if any, has the teaching of moral theology undergone in the post-conciliar period? What is the role of the moral theology faculty in these developments? How do the faculty members perceive their role in this formational process of the moral leaders of tomorrow? What are the implications for future moral leadership in the content of moral theology, which is taught in today's seminaries? These were the primary questions that were posed and examined in this study. Through the instrumentality of personal interviews of professors of moral theology, participant observation of their classes, and the analysis of ecclesial documents the researcher sought answers to these questions and formulated various conclusions. The study found that in terms of both content and curriculum, there have been significant changes in the teaching of moral theology in the selected seminaries in the years subsequent to the Second Vatican Council. The study also found that the seminary's moral theology faculty was a defining factor in this process of development. The faculty members were conscious of the unique role that they had, and were pleased to fulfill that role. Finally, the study was also able to identify some of the important implications as well as the drawbacks in the present training pertinent to future leadership needs in the Church. The study concludes with some observations on the present goals of moral theology, new changes in its content and methodology, its need for pluralism in outlook, as well as the need for greater emphasis on field education. The study also makes some recommendations both for the future direction of moral theology as well as for continued research in the field.

Subject Area

School administration|Theology|Religious education

Recommended Citation

Plavilacharuvil, Ben Paul, "Teaching moral theology in seminaries and its implication for moral leadership" (2003). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3084915.