Academic Programs 

Understanding Catholicism    (TH-615)
January Interession and Winter/Spring 2007

Roman Catholicism is the largest Christian denomination in the world. In this course, we examine the history, theology, ecclesiology, and ethics of the Roman Catholic Church. Taught by an Episcopalian, the course will stress the attitude of the Roman Catholic Church to ecumenical and interfaith relations. At the end of the course, students will have a good grasp of the rationale behind the worldview of Roman Catholics.


Meeting Day, Time and Dates: 

Ian Markham
Professor of Theology and Ethics

Contact Information:

(860) 509-9500

Course Syllabus

Course website


Note: If you have registered for an online course, you will be contacted by email with instructions about how to access the class by Friday, January 26th.

Course Objectives

1. To enable students to appreciate the rich diversity, history, and tradition of the Roman Catholic Church;
2. To consider and locate some of the contentious debates within Catholicism;
3. To look at the impact of Catholicism on contemporary America.


Each week students should do the reading and make a minimum of two posts: one on the reading (no more than 500 well chosen words) and the other on the lecture (no more than 300 words). In addition students should comment on at least one other post written by another student (no more than 300 words).


Session 1: Numbers, Facts, and Stuff

Session 2: Authority and the Magisterium

Session 3: Natural Law and Natural Theology

Session 4: The impact of Thomas Aquinas

Session 5: Natural Law and Sexual Ethics

Session 6: Priests, Celibacy, and Women

Session 7: The culture of death

Session 8: Catholics and Ecumenism

Session 9: Catholics and Other Religions

Session 10: The achievement of Pope John Paul II

Session 11: Pope Benedict XVI

Session 12: Theocons in America

Session 13:. Anti-Catholicism: how deep is the prejudice?


All Students are required to purchase The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church.
Pope John Paul II, The Splendor of Truth
Pope John Paul II, The Gospel of Life
Eamon Duffy, Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes.


Class Participation

A five page review of one of the following books:
- Richard John Neuhaus, Catholic Matters
- Damon Linker, Theocons
- George Weigel, The Truth of Catholicism
- Jennifer Ferrara and Patricia Sodano Ireland, The Catholic Mystique: Fourteen Women Find Fulfillment in the Catholic Church
- Lavinia Byrne, Woman at the Altar: The Ordination of Women in the Roman Catholic Church.

Attend a Roman Catholic service. Write a five page paper on your observations at the service.

Write a ten page paper on the ‘Future of the Roman Catholic Church’. To be handed in by the end of the end of the course.

Hartford Seminary  77 Sherman Street  Hartford, CT  06105   860-509-9500