By John-Henry Westen

October 22, 2009 ( – Christopher West, the prolific author and well-known speaker who shot to fame in the Catholic world as a result of his work popularizing Pope John Paul II's “Theology of the Body,” has for the first time responded publicly to criticisms that were directed at his work by other theologians and professors of Theology of the Body earlier this year.

In an essay sent to, West stands by his take on the issue of the nature of concupiscence – which, in the case of sexuality, manifests itself in the temptation to lust – which, as he points out, was the “crux” of the criticisms leveled against him. But he also thanks those who have made thoughtful criticism of his work and suggestions on how to improve it. “I have taken them to heart,” he says.  “Indeed, I have always weighed my critics' observations carefully and prayerfully.  They have helped me refine my approach a great deal over the years and I remain very grateful for that.”

In his essay West acknowledges that concupiscence cannot be fully overcome in this life.  “It is abundantly clear from both Catholic teaching and human experience that, so long as we are on earth, we will always have to battle with concupiscence – that disordering of our passions caused by original sin (see Catechism of the Catholic Church 405, 978, 1264, 1426). “

West adds: “In some of my earliest lectures and tapes, I confess that I did not emphasize this important point clearly enough.  The battle with concupiscence is fierce.  Even the holiest saints can still recognize the pull of concupiscence within them.”

However, West goes on to argue, quoting extensively from Pope John Paul II, that people can come to a “mature purity,” in which “man enjoys the fruits of victory over concupiscence.”

“Liberation from concupiscence – or, more precisely, from the domination of concupiscence (John Paul II used both expressions),” says West, “is not only a possibility, it is a necessity if we are to live our lives 'in the truth' and experience the divine plan for human love (see TOB 43:6, 47:5).”

Read West's full essay here.

See related coverage:

Christopher West Controversy Fuels Debate about the Problem of Modesty


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