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Love and Responsibility

4.47  ·  Rating details ·  1,674 Ratings  ·  82 Reviews
Drawing from his own pastoral experience as a priest and bishop before he became Pope John Paul II, Karol Wojtyla has produced a remarkably eloquent and resourceful defense of Catholic tradition in the sphere of family life and sexual morality. He writes in the conviction that science--biology, psychology, sociology--can provide valuable information on particular aspects o ...more
Paperback, 319 pages
Published April 1st 1993 by Ignatius Press (first published 1960)
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Trishulananda Paul McMullen You ask a very interesting question as I have been considering this problem myself. I'm half way through the book and I'm finding it really…moreYou ask a very interesting question as I have been considering this problem myself. I'm half way through the book and I'm finding it really interesting. I keep thinking, if only I had read this years ago, but if I had I don't think I would have understood it. I had to make so many mistakes to understand the deep truth of it all. I think it is largely neutral and non judgmental, he treats the subject as scientifically as I think it is possible to do. Of course it comes from the 1950's so I think you have to make some allowances for the language, and some of the words chosen by the translator might have been chosen differently in more recent times, but the essence of what he illustrates is enlightened (IMHO) and timeless, as many of the other reviewers have indicated. There are some very important analyses of how it is possible for people to use one another in relationships, and some excellent passages on the development of resentment, and why Love can fail, and even the discussion of Betrothal might be extrapolated to be applied to different sexual orientations but the book generally confines itself to dealing with the problems that men and women find in relationships as these turn out to be complex enough. The word Sin is barely mentioned, and there is almost no reference to canon law so it is a relief for me that I do not feel I am being preached at or told how to behave. As I said already it is more like a scientific study, and like any scientific work it is not "light" reading. For me it is a book that contains ideas that should be considered by everybody, so I would say give it a try, there are so few good books that explain this subject, you have nothing to lose and a great deal to understand.(less)

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Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
This lays the all important groundwork for the Pope's later masterwork: the Theology of the Body. This is a challenging read. The language is dense and overflowing with ideas. Normally when an author introduces a complex idea, he follows it up with an "in other words.." followed by some real life examples to help ground the idea in the reader's mind. The Pope skips those things in this book, so you just get the pure complex ideas. The book is broken up in 5-8 page chapters, which took me about 1 ...more
Oct 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Really great book - especially for a new Catholic. It is nice to see that his views are similar to what I thought before: how love involves the whole person, including all of the possibilities that the person holds (including parenthood) . . . and, thus not limit a marriage to a physical or utilitarian plane. Now I get the Catholic teachings against artificial birth control.

Also interesting to note that he quotes Gandhi's autobiography. (p. 232)

After I began reading this book, I realized that a
Kevin Hughes
Feb 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: one and all
In college I struggled with John Paul II's work The Theology of the Body and eventually gave up on it. It was too dense, too seemingly aimless, too full of tangents whose significance to wasn't clear enough, at least to me.

I was very pleasantly surprised when I began Love and Responsibility. It was far more accesible and straighforward, at least compared to the Wednesday audiences that make up The Theology of the Body. For me, this text is the best way to approach the Pope's theology of human se
Jul 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Wojtyla writes beautifully philosophic prose on the topic of love, particularly as it is expressed in marriage. While the material is dense, the core ideas of love as commitment to the other person as a person, love as avoiding the mistaken notion that love involves using another person as an object, and marriage as the loving union of two persons designed to produce children has profound implications for how we think about marriage today.

As a Protestant, much in the book flows quite nicely with
Mar 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
If I had any smidge of pro-choice thinking in my mind that was unresolved by my Catholic catechism up to the time I read this book, this book completely changed my mind and helped me become pro-life. In this book, Pope John Paul recommends the beauty of life and the family to Catholics. He also condemns the ways in which society promotes a lack of regard for life and for the respect of women (the physical bearers of life). It is not right that unmarried men lead single women on and use them for ...more
Doreen Petersen
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
Very informative and moving book. Lots of food for thought. A definite must for all Catholics!
Jul 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Before Karol Wojtyla was elected to pope and became John Paul II, he had already written what was arguably his greatest work. Let that sink in for a moment. The great saint who gave us fourteen encyclicals such as Ecclesia De Eucharistia, Fides et Ratio, and Evangelium Vitae had already written a work greater than perhaps all of his encyclicals put together. This book was entitled Love and Responsibility, and if you love reading (soon-to-be) Saint John Paul II's writings then you'll definitely w ...more
Fer de Uña
Un libro imprescindible para profundizar en la concepción del amor y del matrimonio desde un punto de vista católico, que hunde sus raíces en una ética personalista y que pretende distanciarse de los ultilitarismos hedonista y puritano. Tiene una estructura progresiva que va desde un plano general de análisis del objeto y sujeto del amor, de lo que significa "gozar de" y "gozar con", hasta problemas concretos en las relaciones sexuales entre los cónyuges. Para leer y releer continuamente.
Fr. Ryan Humphries
Mar 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Philosophical and Theological Professionals and Seminarians.
Recommended to Fr. Ryan by: Fr. William Maestry
This is a philosophical master work in Christian Phenomenology. Beware, though. This is not a spiritual book or a papal encyclical. It's a complex work of philosophy which requires foreknowledge of phenomenology and metaphysics. John Paul is in his most intellectual and, therefore, least accessible in this work.
Edward C.
Aug 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
One of the three most important books I have read. Within, Karol Cardinal Wojtyla (Bl. John Paul II) plays the philosopher, expertly employing phenomenology girded by Thomism to discuss sexuality, relationships, and the meaning of human love. Although often mentioned as a precursor to Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body, Love and Responsibility stands well enough on its own.
Meg Jenista
Feb 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Think that the Roman Catholic prohibition of birth control is about being a spoil-sport and killjoy? Think again. Here is the moral theology upon which the Roman Catholic stance is based. It may actually be a beautiful thing.
Ruth Pekar
Jan 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone age 15 and up, especially college students or anyone about to be married
Recommended to Ruth by: reputation of the author, Karol Wojtyla
A classic!
Pope John Paul II gives the reasoning and foundation for the how men and women should see relate with each other, especially in marriage. Basically, we should never see each other as an object of use or enjoyment, because with true love, we focus on what is best for the other person. He breaks down the kinds of love ! It's more than I would have expected from the most holy of priests, and he is as always a very compassionate and loving father in his explanations. Edward Sri also has a short book ...more
Jul 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone looking to deepen their understanding of real Love between a man and woman
This book is a bit dense, but it captures amazingly well what Love (as a virtue) between a man and a woman is and what it isn't. When I first started this book, I thought I would gain an idealized understanding of Love. However, reading through it, what I am gaining is not an idealized understanding of Love, but rather a realistic understanding of Love.

Help yourself and read this book. It'll revolutionize, purify, and complete your beliefs and ideas on Love. I like this book so much, I have to
Want to return to this; setting it aside with the greatest reluctance and only because I have started too many books at the same time. (sigh)

Have read and reread Intro and first chapter three times. Dense text or I've got from summer sludge on the brain--probably both. However, it really seems to be one of those books which if I force myself to keep working on it will yield hundred or sixty or thirty fold.
Sep 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If I were, say, the dictator of my own country, I would make this astounding book a required read for all people between the ages of 16 and 19. Then, for their 20th birthday, as a tradition, I would have the parents buy them another copy to read again. This book presents a necessary and vital understanding of love.
Kevin Swick
Aug 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is the best book I have ever read. This is a must read for all Catholics especially young people. I highly recommend this book. It has changed the way I view relationships and has helped me to grow in my relationship.
Jul 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
John Paul II did it again. He philosophically got me thinking and questioning. Great for studying.
Tim Pham
Feb 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book can save any marriage in trouble or strengthen the spousal relationship. Incredible concept about utility and about charity. Must read for any one who cares about love
Dec 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Feb 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, spiritual
Life altering. Incredibly dense. Read it with several really smart people and you might get a hint at the amazing things JP2 was suggesting.
Feb 15, 2010 added it
Wanna know what real love is?
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Philosophical and religious masterpiece that brings together everything I have ever been taught by the Church and come to understand through my own reason and experience in the most profound way.

The heart of this book lies in the total and complete affirmation of the value of the human person and recognition of the damaging utilitarian views which pervade modern society.

It can be a bit dense if you do not particularly like or have experience with philosophical treatises. If so, I recommend Edw
Aug 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
One of the reviewers on Amazon noted that he wished St. John Paul's picture had been kept off the cover of this, as the presence of a Pope on the cover might dissuade people who would otherwise read this book from doing so. Having finished it, I tend to agree. One need not be Catholic (or particularly religious) to enjoy this book. In a better world, it would loom much larger as an antidote to the callousness and inhumanity which characterizes sexuality in our time.

It's hard to believe that mos
Joseph Serwach
Jul 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
July 3, 2012
Nearly 20 years before he became Pope John Paul II, Karol Wojtyla wrote a compelling explanation of what destroys relationships and how to make them living, growing meaningful experiences that makes us better people.
In short, when we treat another person as "an object,'' focusing on what they can give us (sex, money, etc.), we are starting a utilitarian relationship that is incredibly limited. When we make our partner's self-realization and well-being our overriding goal, then any
Daniela Castañeda
Man in his various activities makes use of the whole created universe, takes advantage of all its resources for ends which he sets himself, for he alone understands them. Such an attitude on the part of man towards inanimate nature whose riches are so important to economic life, or towards living nature, whose energies and riches man appropriates, does not in principle arouse any doubts. Intelligent human beings are only required not to destroy or squander these natural resources, but to use the ...more
Grace Krilanovich
Feb 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
A philosophy of the interrelatedness of love and responsibility -- however loaded both terms soon become -- here laid out in a surprisingly conversational, commonsense, even intuitive way. The dictates could be applied to any number of worldviews, but Love and Responsibility is, of course, a book about Catholic sexual morality.

It seems pretty obvious that it was written by dictation, which is okay per se, but here each sentence stretches on and on in complex threads of small words. Unnecessarily
Melissa Henderson
Apr 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Pretty heavy stuff and kind of steamy in some places... I agree with and love the theology but am still having a very hard time with some of the material, just as most modern couples do. I love how JPII differentiates between animals (driven by instinct) and humans (free will) and why it's important to practice the virtues of love and temperance together. Also the in depth philosophy on fully mature, integrated love is what they should really emphasize in pre-cana. This is a deep, beautiful, phi ...more
Feb 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
Karol Wojtyla at his best. The foundational work that he would later expand into a Theology of The Body. Taking a phenomenological approach, he develops the topic of how marriage fulfills human love in giving people their entire dignity. A very romantic and frank book, written by a man whose specialty was marriage counseling he speaks frankly of the need for generosity in the sexual union.....
A challenging book, but well worth it. So many quotes full of wisdom. The challenge is that much of the book is spent defining and parsing terms (which is necessary) that unless you've read the book, the quotes won't be as meaningful.

Very helpful in learning about the personalistic norm and about the foundation for the Theology of the Body.

Highly recommended!
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  • God Is Love: Deus Caritas Est
  • Humanae Vitae: Of Human Life
  • Theology of the Body for Beginners: A Basic Introduction to Pope John Paul II's Sexual Revolution
  • Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II
  • Men, Women and the Mystery of Love: Practical Insights from John Paul II's Love and Responsibility
  • Hail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God
  • Theology and Sanity
  • Life of Christ
  • Theology of His Body/Theology of Her Body: Discovering the Strength & Mission of Masculinity/Discovering the Beauty and Mystery of Femininity
  • Uniformity with God's Will
  • True Devotion to Mary
  • Catholicism and Fundamentalism
  • Fire Within: Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross and the Gospel - On Prayer
Saint Pope John Paul II (Latin: Ioannes Paulus II), born Karol Józef Wojtyła was elected Pope at the Conclave of 16 October 1978, and he took the name of John Paul II. On 22 October, the Lord's Day, he solemnly inaugurated his Petrine ministry as the 263rd successor to the Apostle. His pontificate, one of the longest in the history of the Church, lasted nearly 27 years.

Driven by his pastoral solic
“A person's rightful due is to be treated as an object of love, not as an object for use.” 119 likes
“Love between man and woman cannot be built without sacrifices and self-denial.” 65 likes
More quotes…