What Is Love?

Find the Answers in this Essential Guide

I do not intend Understanding Love and Responsibility to be an intricately detailed or exhaustive study, nor an in-depth scholarly analysis. Rather it sketches out the bold lines of Wojtyla's thought and clears away some of the conceptual difficulties for the serious reader.

Richard A. Spinello

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  • avatar Damon Owens Executive Director, Theology of the Body Institute

    “Spinello has provided us a marvelously compelling and timely guide to Saint John Paul II’s masterpiece Love and Responsibility. What a treat to read! The Theology of the Body Institute has long extolled the rich beauty of John Paul II’s foundational masterpiece on human love and sexuality. We share Spinello’s passion for making this known far and wide to a culture unmoored from a coherent sexual ethic or even a language for love. A great debt is owed to Spinello for his balance of scholarship and readability. Understanding Love and Responsibility should play a major role in drawing thirsty souls into the mind, heart, and thought of one of civilization’s greatest men on the issues of our age. Kudos!”

  • avatar Angela Franks, PhD Author of Contraception and Catholicism: What the Church Teaches and Why

    “As the resources helping us grasp the theology of the body have multiplied, a lacuna has remained: how can readers understand the essential pre-papal writings of Karol Wojtyła, such as Love and Responsibility, other than by getting an advanced degree in philosophy? Richard Spinello’s Companion does a huge service by providing a solid, philosophically informed reading of Wojtyła's crucial text. If you really want to understand the theology of the body, you need to understand Love and Responsibility. Now you can, even without a philosophy degree!”

  • Jason Evert Author of Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves

    “Karol Wojtyła’s book Love and Responsibility is an oasis in a world that is suffering a drought of clear thinking in the realm of sexual ethics. However, his profound insights are often inaccessible to readers because of his complex writing style and the depth of his thought. Thankfully, Richard Spinello has offered the Church a helpful companion to Wojtyła’s classic work. His commentary will help anyone who is looking to absorb the richness of the late Holy Father’s thought.”

From the Author

Take A Glimpse Inside The Book

The Essentials of Love

  1. Fondness and desire: "Love might begin as an attraction to a person's visible and sensual beauty, but that attraction must evolve into a deep appreciation for the beauty of the whole person."
  2. Benevolence and reciprocity: "In benevolence, a person...actively seeks the true good of the beloved...love is something common to both persons."
  3. Sympathy and friendship: "Sympathy must be transformed into friendship, and friendship must be augmented by sympathy."
  4. Spousal love: "In spousal love a person gives himself to another person, either to a human person or to God, and through this giving 'a particular shape of love...is formed.'"

About The Author


Dr. Richard Spinello is an associate research professor at Boston College where he teaches ethics courses and conducts an annual seminar on the thought of Saint John Paul II. He is also a member of the adjunct faculty at St. John’s Seminary in Boston. He received his Ph.D in philosophy from Fordham University. 

Dr. Spinello's  interest in Pope John Paul II began with the reading of the 1993 encyclical  Veritatis Splendor (The Splendor of Truth). This document inspired him to explore the earlier writings of Karol Wojtyla, including Love and Responsibility

Dr. Spinello is the author of The Genius of John Paul II: The Great Pope’s Moral Wisdom, The Encyclicals of John Paul II: An Introduction and Commentary, along with numerous other books and articles on ethical theory and applied ethics.



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