School of Theology and Seminary Faculty Publications

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Arts and Humanities | Catholic Studies | Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion


A theology of infertility is needed to help couples and the broader ecclesial community understand the theological implications of infertility. Infertility raises questions about human freedom, finitude, embodiment, childlessness, and parenthood. In this article, dominant cultural assumptions surrounding each of these areas when considering reproductive technologies are sketched. Official Roman Catholic teaching on reproductive technologies (Donum Vitae), while rejecting most forms of such technologies, does provide a viable response to the presupposition that reproductive technologies resolve infertility. Given the dominant cultural assumptions and insights from Roman Catholic teaching, this article advocates for several ecclesial changes when considering infertility. Finally, theological resources for developing a theology of infertility are offered. Specifically, insights from Karl Rahner’s theology of concupiscence are examined with an eye toward how they provide a framework for rethinking the cultural assumptions about freedom and finitude when considering reproductive technologies.


NOTICE: This is the manuscript of a work that was accepted for publication in Horizons: The Journal of the College Theology Society. Changes resulting from the publishing process may not be reflected in this document. A definitive version has been published as:

Cox, Kathryn Lilla. 2013. "Toward a Theology of Infertility and the Role of Donum Vitae." Horizons: The Journal of the College Theology Society 40, no. 1 (June 2013): 28-52. DOI: