On Veritatis Splendor

This series of lectures examines the context and content of Veritatis splendor, the encyclical by St. John Paul II on fundamental moral theology. As is typical of the Catholic approach, Veritatis splendor attempts to integrate faith and reason by using both revelation and philosophical argumentation to answer the important questions of morality.


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Welcome to On Veritatis Splendor with Rev. Joseph W. Koterski, S.J.

Thank you for enrolling in this course on Veritatis splendor, the core of the course is made up of sixteen video lectures. In addition, to each video lecture there are sixteen corresponding lessons with optional study questions and suggestions for further reading. You may view these sixteen lessons here. (These lessons are only required for those students taking this course for College credit through their accrediting institution.)

The course examines the St. John Paul II’s use of the story of Christ’s encounter with the rich young man to discuss some of the basic concepts of moral theology, and to honor Vatican II’s call for moral theologians to use the Scriptures pervasively and not just to cite biblical passages out of context for the confirmation of ethical positions arrived at by other means. The course also reviews the insights of John Paul II about four major areas of concern: freedom and law, conscience and truth, the proper way to provide a moral analysis of a deliberate human act, and the role of teleology in moral matters. These lectures call attention to the distinctions that Veritatis splendor makes between authentic and inauthentic notions of freedom, conscience, the moral object, and teleology.  

Finally, these lectures consider the pastoral dimensions of Veritatis splendor. In particular it examines Pope John Paul II’s reflections on holiness and martyrdom, in the service of the truths about morality. Throughout this series of lectures, there is an effort to define important terms, to show the patterns of the pope’s arguments, and to bring out the significance of the encyclical’s reflections for understanding the distinctively Catholic position in moral theology.

Rev. Joseph Koterski, S.J.


Rev. Joseph W. Koterski, S.J., (1953-2021) taught Philosophy at Fordham University, where he won both the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching and the Graduate Teacher of the Year Award. He was the editor-in-chief of International Philosophical Quarterly, and the President of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars. He has produced videotaped lecture-courses on “Aristotle’s Ethics,” on “Natural Law and Human Nature,” and most recently on “Biblical Wisdom Literature” for The Teaching Company.