May, William E.

May, William E.

William E. May is a leading traditional Roman Catholic moral theologian. Since 1991 he has been the Michael J. McGivney Professor of Moral Theology at the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family based at the Catholic University in Washington. Prior to that he taught moral theology at the Catholic University of America from 1971.


Internet Resources


William E. May has his own personal website with many of his writings available from there. It also includes a

Curriculum Vitae and list of scholarly publications.


Moral Concepts

Christian Faith & Its 'Fulfillment' of the Natural Moral Law, Anthropotes, 1991 [revised]

On The Existence of Moral Absolutes (The Teaching of Theologians From St. Thomas Aquinas Until Vatican Council II), Faith & Reason, Summer 1992.

Free Choice, 2002.

The Difference Between A 'Right' and A 'Liberty' and the Significance of This Difference in Debates Over Public Policy on Abortion and Euthanasia, 2002.

What Makes The Human Person A Being of Moral Worth? in Normative Ethics & Objective Reason, ed. George F. McLean.

God, The Moral Life & Conscience

Free Choice, Baptism & The Christian Moral Life, Dec 2004.

Roman Catholic Teaching


Moral Theologians & Veritatis Splendor, Homiletic & Pastoral Review, Dec 1994.

Teaching Authority in the Church, Morality & Dissent, Catholic Dossier, May/June 2000.

Philosophical Anthropology and Evangelium Vitae, 2002.

The Church's Moral Teaching, Holiness & Personal Vocation, 2003.

The 'New' Evangelization, Catholic Moral Life in Light of Veritatis Splendor , and The Family, 2003.

Pope John Paul II's Encyclical Veritatis Splendor and Bioethics, to be published in Pope John Paul II and Bioethics, ed. Christopher Olafsen

Charles E. Curran's Grossly Inaccurate Attack on the Moral Theology of John Paul II, June 2005.

Chapters from Introduction to Moral Theology

Pope John Paul II's Encyclical Veritatis Splendor(Chpt 8)

Christian Moral Life & Catechism of Catholic Church, (Appendix)

Chapters from Catholic Sexual Ethics (with Lawler & Boyle)

Making Good Moral Choices: Two Approaches (pp78-97)


Medical Ethics


Do Married Couples Have A 'Right' To A Child?, 1991

The Sanctity of Life Seduced, First Things, April 1994 [contribution to symposium]

The Sacredness of Life: An Overview of the Beginning, Linacre Quarterly, 1996.

Caring for Persons in The Persistent Vegetative State, Anthropotes, 1997

Cloning Humans vs Begetting Children, NaProEthics Forum, Nov 1998..

Partial Birth Abortion & Catholics, Lay Witness, Jan/Feb 2000.

The Difference Between A 'Right' and A 'Liberty' and the Significance of This Difference in Debates Over Public Policy on Abortion and Euthanasia, 2002.

The Ethics of Organ Transplants, Ethics & Medicine, Vol 21.

Leon Kass & The Challenge of Bioethics, Jan 2003.

Bioethics & Theology: How Are They Related?, 2003.

Begetting vs Making Babies, published in Human Dignity and Reproductive Technology , ed. Nicholas Lund-Mofese and Michael Kelly, 2003.

Medical Technology, Ethics & The Law

The Final Act: Public Policy on Euthanasia & Assisted Suicide

What Is A Human Person and Who Counts as a Human Person?: A Crucial Question for Bioethics, June 2004

The Realities of Stem Cell Research [PDF]

Pope John Paul II & Bioethics: Bodily Life as Integral to the Human Person, Aug 2005

Caring for Persons in the "Persistent Vegetative State" and Pope John Paul II's Mar 20 2004 Address "On Life-Sustaining Treatments and the Vegetative State", Oct 2005

Anthropology & Morality: Bodily Life as a Good Intrinsic to Persons and the Absolute Inviolability of Innocent Human Life, Jan 2005

Human or Person? Reflections on Paul Ramsey & Reproductive Technology, 2007.

Humanae Vitae & Making Babies

Extract From Catholic Bioethics & Gift of Life

Personal Human Life: When Does It Start?, pp156-8.


Sexual Ethics


Sterilization: Catholic Teaching and Catholic Practice, Homiletic & Pastoral Review, Aug/Sept 1977.

Contraception & Catholicism, Common Faith Tract No 5 , 1983.

The Liberating Truth Of Catholic Teaching On Sexual Morality, Homiletic & Pastoral Review, July 1983

Do Married Couples Have A 'Right' To A Child?, 1991

A Profoundly Different Understanding Of The Moral Life Undergirding Contraception & Respect For The Rhythm of the Cycle, The Catholic Faith, Mar/April 1997.

Harvey's "The Truth About Homosexuality", Theological Studies, Dec 1997.

The Communion of Persons in Marriage and the Conjugal Act, ET of "La 'communio personarum' e l'atto coniugale," in Morale Coniugale e Sacramento della Penitenza: Riflessioni sul 'Vademecum per i Confessori , Eds. Alfonso Card. Lopez Trujillo and Francisco Gil Hellin, 1998.

Love & Sex: The Redemption of Sexuality, Liberty, Life & Family, 1998.

Proclaiming the Church's Teaching on Marriage In The Age of Birth Control & Dissent, in Keeping Faith: Msgr. George A. Kelly's Battle for the Church, A Colloquy, ed. Patrick G. D. Riley, 2000.

Marriage: A Common Endeavor, Faith, Jan/Feb 2001.

Contraception, Gateway To The Culture of Death, July/Aug 2001.

Catholic Sexual Ethics [34pp booklet], The Veritas Series, 2001.

The Mission of Fatherhood: 'To Reveal and Live On Earth The Very Fatherhood of God', Josephinuum, Winter/Spring 2002.

Sex, Marriage & The Supreme Court, ZENIT, July 2003.

The Decriminilazation of Sodomy, Washington Times, August 2003.

The 'New' Evangelization, Catholic Moral Life in Light of Veritatis Splendor, and The Family, 2003.

On The Impossibility of Same Sex Marriage, National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, 2004.

Contraception & Respect For The Rhythm of the Cycle

Natural Family Planning & The Moral Life

The "Good of the Spouses" and Marriage as a Vocation to Holiness, Oct 2004

The Scriptures, Human Sexuality & Sexual Morality, and Pope John Paul II's "Theology of the Body", June 2005

Love Between Man & Woman: The Epitome of Love, May 2006.

Karol Wojtyla's Love and Responsibility: A Summary, Sept 2007

Summary of Roman Catholic Teaching on Sexuality, Nov 2007

The Significance of the Consummation of Marriage, Contraception and Condoms to Prevent HIV, Nov 2007 [PDF]

The Anthropological Vision of Humanae Vitae by Karol Wojtyla, translated by William E. May, Apr 2008

The Cultural & Ecclesial Situation 1964 to 1967: Paving the Way for Dissent From Church Teaching on Contraception, July 2008

The Battle Over Contraception and Its Significance, Voices Online, Michaelmas 2008.

Chapters from Marriage: The Rock on Which the Family is Built

Marriage: A Person-Affirming, Love-Enabling, Life-Giving and Sanctifying Reality, Chpt 1.

Marriage and the Complementarity of Male & Female, Extended version of Chpt 2.

Chapters from Catholic Sexual Ethics (with Lawler & Boyle)

Making Good Moral Choices: Two Approaches (pp78-97)

Chapters from Sex & The Sanctity of Human Life (1984)

Male & Female: The Sexual Significance, Chpt 1.

Contraception, Abstinence & Responsible Parenthood, Chpt 5

Church Teaching & The Morality of Contraception, Chpt 6


Political/Social Ethics

Legislating Morality, Law, Morals & The Common Good


Reviews of Books by May

Catholic Bioethics & The Gift of Life

Janet Smith [PDF]

Standing With Peter

Love & Marriage: Reflections of lay moral theologian on God's loving providence

St Louis Review


 Holiness and Ordinary Life in the Teaching of Blessed Josmara Escriv in Holiness and the World: Studies in the Teachings of Blessed Josémaia Escrivá, ed. M.Belda (revised), 1997.

The Vocation of a Catholic Teacher/Scholar, The Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, Spring 2001.

Report on Appointment to Vatican Congregation for the Clergy, Sept 2003

Tribute by Fr Joseph Rogers at William E. May Award, Sept 2008

Interview with May on becoming Senior Fellow of the Culture of Life Foundation

Topic: May, William E.

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