Moral Theology, Thomas Aquinas, and the Question of Disability

Christian doctrine on human dignity has always affirmed the goodness of the body and the fittingness of our vulnerability in the good order of God’s creation. To paraphrase Saint Thomas Aquinas, as incarnate intellectual creatures formed in the image and toward the likeness of triune God, those gifts are among the natural goods that predicate our greatest good and final perfection.

In this lecture, Dr. Miguel J. Romero (Salve Regina University) asks what difference it would make if those doctrinal claims were treated as integral to the work of Catholic moral theology. Drawing upon the anthropological and moral outlook of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Romero proposes that the breadth and depth of this challenge is struck in high relief when we consider how the topic of “disability” is conceived and navigated, engaged and avoided, in contemporary Catholic systematic, moral, and ethical discourse. IHE Executive Director Joseph Capizzi will moderate the conversation.

Special attention will be given to concerns and priorities expressed in the Pastoral Statement of U.S. Catholic Bishops on Persons with Disabilities and the USCCB Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities.

This event is cosponsored with the National Catholic Partnership on Disability.
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Miguel J. Romero is an assistant professor of Religious & Theological Studies at Salve Regina University (RI) and an NCPD Board member. His writing on moral theology, theological method, and the thought of Thomas Aquinas has appeared in The Thomist, Nova et Vetera, The Journal of Moral Theology, and National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly. Romero’s forthcoming book is entitled Destiny of the Wounded Creature: St. Thomas Aquinas on Disability. 


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Paul Gondreau teaches and has published widely in the areas of moral theology, with an emphasis on human sexuality and marriage, Christology, and sacraments, and specializes in the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas. The father of a child with special needs, he has also published on the moral theology of disability. He is associate editor of the journal Nova et Vetera and is the author of The Passions of Christ’s Soul in the Theology of St. Thomas Aquinas (Aschendorff, 2002; reprinted Cluny Media, 2018). He is currently working on a monograph on a Thomistic account of the meaning and purpose of human sexuality.

Joseph Capizzi is an ordinary professor of moral theology at The Catholic University of America. He teaches in the areas of social and political theology, with special interests in issues in peace and war, citizenship, political authority, and Augustinian theology. He has written, lectured, and published widely on just war theory, bioethics, the history of moral theology, and political liberalism, including his book entitled, Politics, Justice, and War: Christian Governance and the Ethics of Warfare. Dr. Capizzi is the Executive Director of the Institute for Human Ecology at The Catholic University of America. He received his B.A. from the University of Virginia, a Masters in Theological Studies from Emory University, and both an M.A. and Ph.D. in Theology from the University of Notre Dame. He lives in Maryland with his wife and six children.